Last night it was the turn of Blantyre to have its share of the launch of Politics, Christianity and Society in Malawi: Essays in Honour of John McCracken. The evening event was co-hosted by the Society of Malawi and the Malawi Scotland Partnership, and held at Mandala House near the city centre.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder so, after almost a year when it has not been possible to hold such events, there was a great atmosphere as people came together and caught up with one another.
The atmosphere was also created by the venue – Mandala House was the first two-storey building to be constructed in Malawi and for many years was the centre of commercial life in the country as Scots and Malawians worked together in an attempt to realise the trading dimension of David Livingstone’s vision for Africa. Today its upper storey houses the library and archives of the Society of Malawi while the ground floor has an art gallery indoors and a café on the terrace, where the launch was held.
We could not have had a better speaker at the launch than Silas Ncozana who, as a PhD student forty years earlier, had himself benefitted from the work of John McCracken. Today he is very much an elder statesman in the Malawi context, after many years of leadership in church and public life. He brought a broad perspective to bear on the significance of the book, drawing particularly on his unrivalled knowledge of the interactions of Malawi and Scotland over many years.
Next stop, Lilongwe.