Colin Cameron awarded honorary life membership of the Law Society of Scotland

27 May 2021

We are delighted to congratulate SMP Member, Colin Cameron, on receiving honorary life membership of the Law Society of Scotland for his work with Malawi.

In the Society’s 72-year history, only 18 awards of Honorary membership have been made and only four awards in the last decade. They have included individuals such as Donald Dewar and Ethel Houston OBE. There are only nine surviving current holders of Honorary membership: Winnie Ewing, Professor Ross Harper, Kenneth Pritchard OBE, John Laughland, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, Adrian Ward MBE, Dame Elish Angiolini QC DBE, Sheriff Brian Kearney and Alastair Cockburn.

Colin and his wife Alison have been life-long friends of Malawi. Together, they have played a crucial role in the bilateral relationship over the last 64 years.

Colin at an SMP AGM pictured with SMP Member Elvis Mpakati Gama PNG

Malawi: Journey to Independence with Colin Cameron

In 2014, to mark 50 years of Malawi’s independence, we recorded five short video interviews with Colin talking about the time leading up to independence as he worked with Hastings Kamuzu Banda, helping to negotiate the terms of Malawi’s independence and drafting Malawi’s constitution. We welcome you to view this fascinating video series below.

Malawi: Journey to Independence with Colin Cameron, Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

When Colin and Alison arrived in Malawi in 1957 he was a young lawyer and they were on their honeymoon. They stepped into a situation that was highly polarised on racial grounds, with the great majority of white people hostile towards the Malawi Congress Party, and vice versa. Colin bridged this gulf to the extent that he became a trusted advisor to the MCP in the run-up to independence and when the country achieved self-government in 1962 he was invited by Prime Minister Banda to become a minister in the first Cabinet. Colin is the last surviving member of that first Cabinet.

Colin later resigned on principle from the Cabinet when he refused to be party to the re-introduction of provisions for detention without trial, which he had earlier opposed when they were in force under the colonial regime. In the volatile atmosphere of the 1964-65 Cabinet Crisis he and the family faced grave risk and they left the country at very short notice, remaining persona non grata until the fall of the Banda regime in 1994.

Though undoubtedly difficult, this experience created deep bonds between Colin and Alison and the many prominent Malawians who were driven into exile at the same time. Their friendship and loyalty to one another has been unwavering over all the years and continues to this day, almost 60 years later, among the small band who still survive.

When Kazumu Banda was ousted in 1994, that the new Government of Bakili Muluzi invited Colin to become Malawi's Honorary Consul in Scotland. In this role he, and Alison, were absolutely tireless in promoting Malawi's interests in Scotland and there is no doubt that he was one of the driving forces behind the revival of Scotland-Malawi relations that became an important feature of Scottish public life in the early years of this century. Colin and Alison criss-crossed the country, always ready to show up and give encouragement to any group, large or small, that was developing a Malawi connection. This was foundational to the SMP that exists today.

Colin and Alison have undoubtedly contributed very significantly to the public good, both in Scotland and in Malawi.

Amanda Millar, President of the Law Society said: “I am delighted that Colin Cameron is receiving honorary membership of the Law Society today. Mr Cameron has had a truly remarkable life. He has helped to create a legacy for the people of Malawi, and alongside his wife of 64 years, Alison, has continued to promote tirelessly Malawi’s interests in Scotland. He is a true ambassador for the profession, showing the impact and influence a Scottish solicitor can have on a global stage.”

Colin Cameron said: “I am humbled, honoured and privileged to receive this honorary life membership of the Law Society of Scotland, and I very much recognise this privilege alongside my wife Alison. Malawi and Scotland have developed a strong partnership in personal and organisational relations, particularly through the Scotland Malawi Partnership and I feel that other similar countries could do well to follow that same model.”

David Hope-Jones, Chief Executive of the SMP said: “Colin and Alison represent the best of Scottish internationalism. Quiet, understated and humble, they supported inspiring Malawian leaders to fight against the injustices of the colonial regime, break the Federation and achieve the best possible terms for Malawi independence. They joined this cause when it was unfashionable to do so; choosing to reject the predominant power relationships and racial assumptions of the time to fight for equality and justice. I know Colin and Alison will be a little embarrassed at this (much deserved) public recognition, and will be keen to highlight that the champions of Malawian independence were their Malawian friends and colleagues.”

Image top: Colin Cameron at an SMP AGM pictured with SMP Member Elvis Mpakati Gama.

Image Bottom: Colin at Hastings Kamuza Banda's right-hand side helping negotiate the terms of Malawi's independence.

Colin at Hastings Kamuza Banda's right-hand side helping negotiate the terms of Malawi's independence.