This year, we have been marking 50 years of Malawi’s independence. Malawi’s history has a strong connection with the UK, but particularly with Scotland – one only has to highlight David Livingstone and Blantyre as examples. Over my two years as High Commissioner here I have seen the Malawi – UK, and especially Scotland, relationship grow from strength to strength.
The increasingly vibrant Scotland-Malawi Partnership organisation now has a sister Malawi-Scotland Partnership organisation. British Government Minister in the Scotland Office Mr Mundell and Ministers Mr Russell and Mr Yousaf from the devolved Scottish Government visited Malawi. I accompanied President Banda on her visit to Scotland in 2013 and Foreign Minister Chaponda is there next week.
In November, the Lord Provost of Glasgow (mayor equivalent) signed an agreement for cooperation with Lilongwe City Council. And, at event in CIVO Stadium and at the Residence in January, we celebrated the arrival of the Queen’s Baton ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
On 29th November, both in Blantyre and in Lilongwe, where I will be, there will be St Andrew’s Day celebrations attended by Scots, Malawians and other nationalities. It is an opportunity to highlight the best of Scotland: its history and heritage, rich culture, creativity and commerce and home to some of the most breath-taking scenery imaginable.
The 12 months since the last St Andrew’s Day have been remarkable for Scotland. It has been a year when Scotland has welcomed the world, hosted two great international sporting events, and when the Scottish people determined their own future.
2014 has been, unofficially at least, the year of Scotland. And what a year it has been!
The Commonwealth Games brought 6,500 athletes to Glasgow. They came from 71 nations and territories, representing a third of the world’s population. Over a million people filled Glasgow’s sporting arenas, and over a billion watched on TV. Who can forget the assistance provided by a local bicycle shop to Malawi’s team in for the form of top-class racing bikes.
And then the eyes of more than half a billion viewers in 183 countries turned to Gleneagles as Europe’s and America’s best golfers battled it out for the glory of winning the Ryder Cup.
2014 was also the year that the United Kingdom demonstrated that values aren’t just something we talk about abroad – we live by them at home.
In a defining moment in British history, and by a decisive majority, the people of Scots voted to remain part of the United Kingdom, one of the most durable and successful political unions ever seen. Who would have thought that politics could be more exciting than sport?
In a world where separatism all too often leads to conflict, the Scottish referendum demonstrated Britain’s confidence in her own democratic institutions and processes.
A free and open debate electrified the nation; a peaceful, lawful and democratic vote drew admiration from around the world; and, with a record turnout, the settled will of the Scottish people was determined.
- Michael Nevin, British High Commissioner to Malawi