SMP AGM, with the President of Malawi, Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Samson Kambalu

200 SMP members and key partners joined us for our 2021 AGM, which included special live addresses by President Dr Lazarus Chakwera and leading Malawian artist Prof Samson Kambalu, as well as a pre-recorded speech by Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP.

Start time 14:00 (UK) / 16:00 (Malawi) End time 16:30 (UK) / 18:30 (Malawi) Location Zoom
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Keynote speakers

We were delighted to have three amazing keynote addresses as part of the meeting:

Chakwera Lazarus President

His Excellency Lazarus Chakwera the President of the Republic of Malawi

President Lazarus Chakwera serves as the ex officio Honorary Co-Patron of the Scotland Malawi Partnership, alongside HRH The Princess Royal. Last year he gave an inspiring pre-recorded speech for our AGM, in which he set Scotland three challenges for the bilateral relationship. At this year’s AGM we updated the President on progress against these challenges and the President then gave a live address followed by a Q&A with members.

Read the President’s speech in full here.
Watch the President's speech in full here.

In his speech, the President celebrated the unique people-to-people links between Scotland and Malawi, and thanked the Scottish Government for its continuing and longstanding support of these wider civic links which are the lifeblood of the bilateral relationship, through the SMP and MaSP.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for quote graphics from this speech, which we encourage members to share on social media.

John Swinney

John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister of Scotland

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, had been planning to address the AGM but unforeseen last minute scheduling issues meant this was not possible. Instead, the Deputy First Minister spoke for the Scottish Government.

Watch the Deputy First Minister’s speech in full here.

“In the 17 years since it was established, the Scotland Malawi Partnership has played a vital role strengthening the ties between our two nations. So I want to start by thanking everyone, the individuals, the community groups and charities who have helped to make our partnership such an outstanding success.”

“One of the things which I find most impressive when I reflect on the last year is that a time when Malawi and Scotland’s relationship could have grown more distant, it has actually grown stronger.”

Scroll to the bottom of this page for quote graphics from this speech, which we encourage members to share on social media.

Samson and Susan Kambalu 040921

Prof Samson and Susan Kambalu

Prof Samson Kambalu is the Associate Professor of Fine Art at Ruskin School of Art and Fellow by Special Election at Magdalen College of the University of Oxford. He became perhaps Malawi’s most famous artist earlier this year when he won the Mayor of London’s prestigious fourth plinth Trafalgar Square commission by public vote. His larger-than-life statue of Malawi freedom fighter John Chilembwe, titled ‘antelope’, will adorn the fourth plinth for two years from 2022; literally sizing up to the many projections of imperial and colonial power in central London.

Speaking in Black History Month, Prof Kambalu talked about his work and the key role of John Chilembwe. Samson spoke alongside his Scottish wife Susan, as they celebrated 20 years of their own “Scotland-Malawi partnership” (they were married by SMP Member Bobby Anderson)!

In the Q&A we explored continuing issues those from Malawi face as they live in the UK and the prejudice Samson faced as he went through securing UK citizenship.

‘Getting ‘Antelope’ to Trafalgar square was not easy, there were so many obstacles; we did this together over twenty years. The UK Government does so much to put you off. When I applied for a British passport I was asked ‘are you marrying Susan just to get a British passport’? I found that very strange because in Malawi we are a very welcoming people.’

AGM 2021 Thank you banner


The meeting included 12 thematically and geographically grouped networking breakout groups, with everyone attending invited to share a little about their own Scotland-Malawi link. New connections and fresh collaborations were established through these groups.

Core Business

In addition to all the brilliant networking, inspiring speeches, energised discussions and brilliant music, we also undertook the core business of the AGM.

Our 2020 AGM Minutes were approved, our 2020-21 accounts were passed and the independent examiner approved, all unanimously.

In keeping with our constitution, six trustees stood down from the Board: Charlie Bevan, Moira Dunworth, Gillian McMahon, Denis Robson, Heather Cubie and Fiona Anderson.

Following a transparent recruitment process, four new and two returning trustees were elected: Jeremy Bagg, Davie Luhanga, Tracy Morse, Emma Wood, Heather Cubie and Fiona Anderson.


All those attending were able to move between 12 discussion groups, framed around the below key contemporary questions:

  • What should the SMP being doing to support climate action, at COP26 and beyond?
  • After 19 months of almost no Malawi-Scotland travel what does the future of the bilateral relationship look like - should the SMP be rushing back to in-person events/engagements or sticking with digital?
  • How best should the SMP be engaging key contemporary topics like decolonizing development and Black Lives Matter?
  • What is the best way for the SMP to really bring to life its Partnership Principles and support its members to work within these?
  • Having completed a major podcast series, what new major digital project should we embark on to reach new audiences, explore key themes in novel ways, and amplify voices that otherwise aren’t heard and support respectful dialogue?
  • With recent policy and political changes in both the UK Government and the Scottish Government what should be the SMP’s priority in engaging and influencing governments?
  • Is “aid” part of the solution or part of the problem for Malawi, and where does the Scotland-Malawi relationship sit in this debate?
  • How do we strengthen governance – both here in Scotland, within the membership, and with our partners in Malawi?
  • What does Scotland need to do to really deliver on Malawi’s priorities, including the President’s three challenges for the bilateral relationship?
  • How does the SMP engage and inspire schools and young people in the next five years?
  • What is the role of the SMP in the next chapter of the Covid-19 pandemic?
  • How do we better engage the Malawian diaspora community in our next chapter, ensuring the SMP is as diverse and inclusive as possible?


We were delighted to have three surprise musical performances during the afternoon to entertain and energise members. David Luhanga and Brave Mnyayi performed their own fantastic Malawian songs and, following a request from Malawi, Luisa Brown quickly picked up her fiddle and we all joined hands (digitally!) and ended the afternoon with a traditional ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

His Excellency Lazarus Chakwera the President of the Republic of Malawi, SMP AGM 2021

John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister of Scotland, SMP AGM 2021

Prof Samson and Susan Kambalu, SMP AGM 2021

Watch the AGM in full here