2nd September 2013
We Scots usually think of the “auld alliance” being the one between Scotland and France to contain the expansionist plans of mediaeval England. However there is another “auld alliance” between Scotland and Malawi that is already making me feel very at home here in Blantyre.
Ruth and I arrived in Lilongwe International Airport too late to catch our noon bus to Blantyre (a four hour journey) and instead killed a few hours absorbing the new atmosphere of Malawi. Initial impressions were: less litter, less threatening, less people, less colourful clothing, more heat!
Scotland has long had special ties with Malawi going back to David Livingstone’s explorations and missionary work in the 1800’s. And it may surprise many that the bulk of Malawians still have warm regards for the memory of Livingstone in particular, and Scotland in general.
Livingstone’s books on his explorations were very popular, no more so than in his native Scotland. So no surprise that Blantyre was founded originally as a Church of Scotland Mission Station in 1876 and named after Livingstone’s birthplace, no surprise that the partnership between Scotland and Malawi continues to this day, and no surprise that I grew up in a Christian home in Scotland with stories of Livingstone and Malawi ringing in my ears.
Livingstone died in Africa, was buried with honour in Westminster Cathedral, but (literally) left his heart in Africa. Seeing Malawi I can understand why.