Scot returns to Malawi 60 years after helping win independence

Colin Cameron (left) will return to Malawi for the first time since 1964. The Scot was a minister in the country's first independent government. Picture: Matt Fothergill
Colin Cameron (left) will return to Malawi for the first time since 1964. The Scot was a minister in the country's first independent government. Picture: Matt Fothergill
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A Scot who served in the cabinet of Malawi’s first post-independence government has been invited to return to the African nation in honour of his anti-apartheid work.

Colin Cameron, 84, received an official invitation 60 years to the day after he first arrived in the country on July 6, 1957.

A law graduate of University of Glasgow, Cameron moved to work as a solicitor and legal practitioner in what was then the British protectorate of Nyasaland.

During his time in country he became unhappy with local apartheid practices and soon became involved in the growing movement for independence.

In 1959, a State of Emergency was declared and members of the Nyasaland Africa Congress (NAC) – those supporting independence - were banned by the colonial authorities.

Cameron prepared defence statements for detainees and at the same time arranged for questions to be asked in the House of Commons on the situation.

After leaving Malawi in 1960, he was invited back to stand in the 1961 elections with the support of NAC leader Dr Hastings Banda, and was subsequently appointed minister of works and transport upon his victory.

Cameron and his wife remained in Malawi until 1964 - the year Malawi declared independence - before returning to Scotland.

He later served as Malawi’s Honorary Consul in Scotland from 1994-2010.

Mr Cameron, who now lives in Irvine, said: “In all my 60 years of involvement with Malawi there is one episode that for me stands out more than all the others put together.

“In the early 1960s Oliver Tambo and two colleagues escaped from South Africa. From there they flew in a private plane which had to land for fuel in Malawi, and with no permissions, they were promptly arrested, their plane impounded, and they were brought before the Court in Malawi to be deported back to join Nelson Mandela.

“The cabinet (not telling President Banda for obvious reasons) were in a real tizzy and asked me as minister of transport, and as a lawyer, to get them out of their predicament, and get Oliver Tambo and his friends to Tanzania.

“To cut a long story short I managed to do that, and they never ended up on Robben Island with the other members of the Congress.”

David Hope-Jones, chief excecutive of the Scotland Malawi Partnership said,: “It truly is a remarkable story. 60-year story of solidarity and friendship remains an inspiration for all involved in the bilateral relationship.”

READ MORE: Scots Malawi partnership still going strong after 150 years