Rose Lomathinda Chibambo, Malawi’s first female Cabinet Minister at independence, died at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital in Blantyre in the early hours of Tuesday 12th January 2016.
With the passing of Rose Chibambo, Malawi has lost one of the last survivors of the generation of political leaders who secured Malawi’s independence from the UK in 1964. With family roots deep in the history of Livingstonia Mission, she was also someone with lifelong connections to Scotland.
It took no little force of character to stand up for independence in the colonial world of the 1950s - and to do so as a woman in a world where male chauvinism was largely unquestioned.
Rose was imprisoned by the British during the State of Emergency in 1959, along with her newly born daughter. Among the visitors she received in prison were her Scottish friends, such as Andrew and Joyce Ross, who found that the Rhodesian prison guards were amazed that they were best friends with such a dangerous terrorist!
Soon after attaining independence, along with several Cabinet ministers, Rose expressed her misgivings about the direction the Malawi Government was taking under Kamuzu Banda. As a result, she had to go into exile and lived in Zambia for the next thirty years. Throughout this time, and indeed to the end of her life, she remained in close contact with the Scots who became her friends during the heady days of the independence struggle. Fittingly her image appears today on the 200-kwacha banknote in Malawi – a hero to remember.
SMP-member Colin Cameron, who was with Rose Chibambo on Malawi’s first cabinet post-independence, said:
"Rose was a wonderful woman, a consummate politician with real integrity, a caring daughter to her late mother, a caring mother and grandmother to her Family, a devout Christian with an affection for Scotland, with whom Alison and I had the privilege of a deep personal friendship and with her late husband, Edwin, in good times and in not so good times for almost 60 years."
Rose Chibambo’s funeral will take place on the 15th January at Chibambo Village, with a remembrance service in Blantyre on the 13th January.
The Scotland Malawi Partnership joins our friends in Malawi in mourning Rose Chibambo’s passing. She will not be forgotten.