A year has passed since Julian Manduca, a colleague and dear friend, passed away. It was an untimely death that has left a void among all those who knew Julian, not least his family.
An enterprising journalist who performed his duty without fear or favour, Julian is best remembered for his principled stands on a number of issues. He would not be deterred by angry contractors who could not understand his irreverent reporting of the environment. Julian stood his ground when ministers and politicians preferred silence when quizzed on one issue or another. He was not one to give up.
He would not be stopped when uncovering filth in business ventures that went terribly wrong. Julian was the one to expose the Price Club fiasco, a story that saw him receive flac from different quarters.
Indeed, Julian was a guiding light in the newsroom with his insights and arguments. He championed minorities but mingled with everyone. Until today, his way of looking at life, which he considered to be an ongoing journey with no destination, remains inspirational. With an open mind that transcended the insularity of this small country Julian’s philosophy was a simple one: live and let live.
We can only begin to imagine what Julian’s reaction would have been today in the light of the attacks being perpetrated on journalists and others who have expressed an opinion that is favourable to the plight of illegal immigrants.
He would have been there at Castille along side the other journalists. He would have put pen to paper on the issue and probably bothered a couple of fascists with what he would have to say. Indeed, prior to his death he had been trying to explore legal avenues on how to force government into allowing journalists access into closed detention centres.
At a time when freedom of expression is under attack, when dark forces are trying to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, Julian would be standing up to be counted.
He is one journalist who knew the meaning of intimidation.
But Julian would also be taking the mickey out of the fundamentalist few among us who took umbrage at the screening of the Da Vinci code and sought to ban the film from coming to Malta.
Having militated in theatre, Julian could not understand the need for censorship in this day and age. People can make up their own minds. They do not need big brother to tell them what is acceptable or not.
And the latest cabinet decision to redraw development boundaries would have him scratching his head. Undoubtedly, Julian would be pouring all over the documentation, sending off pertinent questions to MEPA, the ministry and contacting NGOs for their comments. He would not rest until the details are known, the information is available and the story is out.
It is this legacy Julian leaves behind. It is a heavy one indeed but one which we have to carry. The torch bearing the flame of activism, freedom and justice was passed on to us, Julian’s friends, one year ago today. We cannot allow that flame to be extinguished.
It is with a heavy heart that we celebrate the first anniversary of Julian’s demise. But knowing full well how he would have tackled the situation, we have to move on.
The journey called life continues and irrespective of where it will take us, Julian’s memory will always be a guiding light.