After 96 years and 14 days lived to the full, Malta's greatest nationalist (with a small n) is no more.
The greatest politician Malta has ever had passed into history.
As Machiavelli teaches, those who bring about great changes are despised by those who benefit from the status quo and are only lukewarmly accepted by those who may benefit from the changes about which they continue to harbour doubts.
Mintoff's greatest achievement was his determination to bring about a social revolution by creating a kinder society that does not tolerate poverty while allowing space for private initiative. He made people believe in his ability to deliver change and infected them with enthusiasm to believe in change even when the chances for success seemed to defy the odds.
His battlecry 'Malta l-Ewwel u Qabel Kollox' symbolises his heroic love for his country that had served foreigners for millenia and never really aspired for statehood before Mintoff injected it with nationalistic fervour and self-confidence.
As he had to fight for every inch of progress against the forces that were well served by the status quo, Mintoff tended to be rough at the edges but sweet and gentle at the core. For what he did until he achieved Freedom from foreign bases in 1979 he can never be over-praised. The mistakes he did after 1979, when he tended to be a rebel without a cause, we can easily overlook as they are nothing next to his achievements.
Now that you went to the Creator he will ask you: did you feed the hungry? did you give water to those in thirst? did you visit prisoners? did you console the distressed? did you help the sick?
To these and many other acts of kindness questions you can proudly answer yes and the doors of heavens will be opened wide for you.
May our Leaders love Malta as much as Mintoff did.