On January 23 2014, I attended the launch of a book on relations between Malawi and Scotland authored by Professor Ross. I enjoyed the occasion because dealings between the people of Scotland and Malawi have been of special benefit to the people of Malawi.
It was through Scottish missionaries that most people heard of Jesus Christ and the Christian religion. It was Scottish missionaries who first transcribed Malawian languages into a written form. The education they introduced in this country became a model for other Christian denominations as well as the education of the public, children of the land.
Usually, it is people in developed countries who comment on the politics of developing countries. Today, for a change, let us do the opposite and comment on the politics of Scotland and Britain.
I have in my personal library a massive volume on education in Scotland. In the preface, it is written “Scotland is part of Europe but not part of England”. When I read this, I wondered whether the author was a member of the Scottish National Party which for years has been campaigning for Scotland “independence”.
I have to put independence in quotes because we people of Africa understand independence as meaning ceasing to be a colony of another country. Do some people in Scotland feel that as part of the United Kingdom, Scotland is a virtual colony of England?
In 1953, two famous men in America were campaigning for the presidency. They were Dwight Eisenhower, popularly known as Ike, and his opponent was Adlai Stevenson.
During World War II, Winston Churchill, prime minister of Britain, had worked closely with General Eisenhower of the United States and joint commander of American and British forces.
At a press conference, a journalist asked Churchill: “Between Ike and Adlai, whom do you prefer?” The journalist expected Churchill tomention Eisenhower because of their close dealings. But Churchill’s reply was: “Ike and Adlai, I like them both”.
If someone asked me which I prefer between Scotland and England, despite deeper Scotland’s influence on Malawi’s history, my answer would be “Scotland and England, I like them both.”
In September this year, the people of Scotland will go to the polls in a referendum to decide whether Scotland should secede from the United Kingdom. Since I like both Scotland and England, if I were to take part in the referendum, I would vote ‘no to secession’.
Whenever one region or community has demanded secession from a country, the reason given is that the rest of the country is discriminating against it and that its members are being treated as second-class citizens.
I have always admired the English manner of treating minority groups of the United Kingdom. It is as easy for a Scot, a Welsh or an Irish to become prime minister of Britain as it is for an English. Some outstanding men of British history have been other than English. The Duke of Wellington conqueror of Napoleon and Field Marshall Montgomery of EL Alamein, the greatest British general of World War II were Irish.
Lloyd George, prime minister of Britain during the First World War was Welsh. There are many examples to give credit to the English people. It is for their fair dealings with their fellow citizens that I like them.
If Scotland secedes from the United Kingdom, a bad example will have been given to young nations of Africa that are trying to weld together ethnic groups which before colonial rule were independent of each other.
In the year 1707, England and Scotland decided to become one country called United Kingdom. It was this example that was emulated by British American colonies to secede from the empire as United States of Africa.
In Canada and Australia, the spirit of unity shown by mother countries England and Scotland was behind the federation which was formed there. Without this example, they would have gone to become independent like the numerous Spanish republics in Latin America.
Let there be devolution but within the United Kingdom. How can the British be choosing disunity when the rest of Europe is talking of unity?