Social Reformer
Manuel Dimech
1860– 1921
A prisoner hero

Emmanuel Dimech

Manuel Dimech is the personification of all the psychological, social and ideological motives of the Maltese people at the beginning of the twentieth century.

He was a man of exceptional qualities. Born and brought up in extreme poverty and illiteracy, Dimech returned time and time again to the prisons, mostly on robbery charges. At seventeen years of age he even committed murder.

In the prisons, however, he studied hard and became skilful in letters and various arts. When finally set in liberty, he engaged himself in an energetic and enterprising public life by teaching and publishing. He aimed at an overall transformation of society in which the poor and abject would be given a rightful place as citizens of a free republic.

He was ahead of his times, so much so that the high classes concocted against him, and permanently exiled him from the island.

He died at Alexandria, Egypt, on April 17, 1921, and was buried there in an unmarked grave.


 December 25, 1860 Born at Valletta
 June 11, 1874 Commits first crime (theft) at 13 years of age just two weeks after his father's death. Sentenced to 2 days detention
October 20, 1874 Commits second crime (robbery), and is sentenced to one year imprisonment
May 18, 1876 Commits third crime (theft), and is sentenced to 20 days imprisonment
December 4, 1876 Commits fourth crime (theft), and is sentenced to 20 days imprisonment
January 6, 1877 Commits fifth crime (theft), and is sentenced to 3 months imprisonment with hard labour
May 11, 1877 Commits sixth crime (theft), and is sentenced to 3 months imprisonment with hard labour
October 10, 1877 Commits seventh crime (theft), and is sentenced to 20 days imprisonment
November 14, 1877 Commits eighth crime (theft), and is sentenced to one month imprisonment and £5 fine (equal to one month imprisonment)
November 1877 Begins learning how to read and write
February 3, 1878 Commits ninth crime (murder), and is sentenced to 20 years imprisonment with hard labour. (His accomplice is hanged)
October 30, 1890 Released from imprisonment, he goes abroad to Tunisia. Returns in December.
January 5, 1891 Commits tenth crime (counterfeit of false money), and is sentenced to 9 years imprisonment with hard labour.
July 31, 1897 Definitely released from imprisonment.
January 8, 1898 Begins weekly newspaper, Il Bandiera tal Maltin (The Flag of the Maltese).
February 1898 Opens school of modern languages.
March 17, 1900 The Archbishop of Malta condemns one of his articles, and admonishes him.
March 22, 1900 His mother dies.
October 2, 1900 Marries Virginia Agius.
April 12, 1902 For the first time, he announces his organisation, Ix Xirca Maltïa (eventually begun in 1911).
May 1902 Publishes English grammar book, Il Chelliem Inglis
November 26, 1903 Visits Montenegro (for almost three weeks).
October 8, 1904 Begins publishing a political novel, Ivan u Prascovia.
August 16, 1906 Voyages abroad. He visits Marseille and the north of Italy (Genoa, Milan and Turin). Returns in April 1907.
November 1907  Publishes a four-language grammar book, Il Chelliem tal Erbat Ilsna.
March 19, 1908 Returns to Italy. Returns in May 1911.
June 24, 1911 Announces his organisation, Ix Xirca tal Imdaulin (The Society of the Illumined).
October 2, 1911 The Archbishop of Malta condemns his organisation and weekly newspaper.
October 23, 1911 The Archbishop excommunicates him. A year of persecutions begin, with public demonstrations against him.
January 21, 1912 Is almost killed by a fanatical mob.
November 26, 1912 Abjures.
December 1, 1912 The Archbishop formally retires the excommunication.
March 1914 Publishes a book of rules for his newly established organisation, Is Sisien tax Xirca Maltïa.
August 31, 1914 Arrested.
September 5, 1914 Deported to Sicily.
October 1914 Imprisoned at Syracuse as a prisoner of war (WWI).
November 22, 1914 Deported to Alexandria, Egypt.
December 1914 Imprisoned at El-Hadra (Alexandria).
January 1915 Transferred to concentration camp at Ras-el-Tin (Alexandria).
May 1915 Again sent to El-Hadra.
June 1915 Transferred to the mental asylum of Abbassih (Cairo).
January 1917 Transferred to military camp at Kasir El Nil (Cairo)
December 1918 Transferred to concentration camp of Sidi Bishir (Alexandria).
November 4, 1918 His son, Attilio, dies in Malta from hunger.
November 11, 1918 WWI having ended, he begins his exile.
September 12, 1919 The Governor of Malta refuses to end his exile.
November 1920 Half paralyzed by apoplexy.
December 1920 Transferred to Victoria College at Sidi Bishir itself. (The college was transformed into a hospital due to war exigencies.)
April 17, 1921 Dies at Victoria College, Sidi Bishir (Alexandria, Egypt), and buried in an unmarked grave.