THE president of Malawi visited the place of birth of the famed Scottish missionary and explorer Dr David Livingstone in Blantyre as part of celebrations to mark his 200th birthday.
Accompanied by First Minister Alex Salmond, Joyce Banda visited the David Livingstone Centre before attending a church service led by the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Albert Bogle.
Dr Livingstone established the first links between Scotland and Malawi 150 years ago when he went there as a missionary.
The First Minister also announced new funding for aid projects in Malawi.
A total of 15 projects run by Scottish organisations in the south-east African country will share £4,920,106 over the next three years from the Scottish Government’s International Development Fund.
Nine of the projects are related to healthcare, focusing on mother and child, and the other six projects are involved in sustainable economic development.
Dr Banda said: “I am delighted to be in Scotland to take part in the David Livingstone Bicentenary Celebrations. This is a momentous occasion for both Malawi and Scotland. My visit to this historical country seeks to deepen the relationship that has existed between Malawi and Scotland since Dr Livingstone visited our country.
“I am looking forward to engaging the Scottish people on matters of trade, investment and development, which Dr David Livingstone aspired to achieve.”
The visit marks the start of a week of bicentenary celebrations remembering the achievements of Dr Livingstone.
The president will also make an official address to the Scottish Parliament honouring the life of the explorer and his achievements,
Dr Livingstone was a pioneering medical missionary whose legacy is bound up with the abolition of slavery, the ‘opening up’ of Africa to the world and. the treatment of malaria.
On many of his travels, he was accompanied by his wife, Mary, herself the daughter of a Scottish missionary, and six children.
Though he suffered terrible privations and illness during his expeditions he made many important geographical discoveries, including Victoria Falls, Lake Ngami and Lake Malawi.
He also notes of his numerous medical observations and discoveries, not least the use of quinine as a treatment against malaria, which helped open Centra Africa to other missionaries and traders, while his writings inspired abolitionists of the slave trade.
Dr Livingstone finally died in May 1873 from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery.
Following the church service, Dr Banda attended the Communities League Cup final between Hearts and St Mirren at Hampden, accompanied by her husband Chief Justice Richard Banda – himself a former captain of the Malawian football team - and presented the winner’s cup.
Announcing the projects yesterday, Salmond spoke of the “enduring and strong relationship” between Scotland and Malawi: “I am particularly pleased that as we welcome President Banda - who is only the second ever female Head of State in Africa - that several of the projects we are supporting have a focus on women and children - such as supporting professionals delivering maternal and child health care - and improving maternal and neonatal care in rural areas.”
He also unveiled a new sporting initiative, as part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games legacy project, which will see the Scottish FA and the Malawi Football Association develop a joint coaching programme that will extend beyond the life of the games and see the exchange of skills and knowledge between the two nations.
The partnership will also involve piloting the Scottish FA Schools of Football programme with a school in Malawi providing an excellent opportunity to develop future sporting links and empower communities in Scotland and Malawi.
Commenting the First Minister said: “Scotland has a great love for football and I am delighted that we will be able to share skills in coaching, and support the development of the next generation of successful footballers in our ‘sister-nation’ of Malawi.”