Celebrating Inverclyde’s Malawi Links

Stuart McMillan, MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, helped launch a range of new Malawian fruit wines as part of Scotland’s 150 year old friendship with the country.

Linga Fruit Wines, based in Malawi, launched their 7-bottle collection at the Cross Party Group (CPG) on Malawi at the Scottish Parliament last night.

Linga Wine, is itself a story of Scotland-Malawi friendship and cooperation, 50 years in the making.

The Linga Wine story began in 1965 when Rev Tom Colvin, an engineer and missionary from Glasgow and an enthusiastic fruit wine maker, took up the position as Chaplain of the new University of Malawi.

When communion wine stocks ran low, Rev Colvin shared his passion for fruit wine-making with Timothy Ngwira, a student of Chemistry and Biology at the university.

In 1970 Rev Colvin married Timothy Ngwira to Margaret Gunn, a Scottish VSO volunteer from Lennoxtown, Glasgow, later giving them all the equipment and literature to start their own small-scale fruit wine production.

In 1978 the Ngwiras started wine making. They registered the company Linga Fine Foods and Winery in 2005 and after almost 40 years of hand crafting fruit wine, they are now starting to export to Scotland.

At the Malawi Cross Party Group meeting six MSPs took part in a blind-tasting competition, trying to identify each of the Malawian fruits behind the wines.

Stuart McMillan MSP, sadly did not win the competition (beaten by Deputy Presiding Officer Linda Fabiani MSP!) but still helped champion Greenock and Inverclyde’s links with Malawi.

The Greenock and Inverclyde’s region has eleven primary and secondary schools who are members of the Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) as well as the local authority itself.

The SMP have been promoting a campaign to encourage Scots to buy Malawian products in celebration of the birthday of David Livingstone, the Scottish explorer who began the special relationship between the two nations more than 150 years ago.

Through his travels, Dr Livingstone looked to open new trade routes into Africa to support its economic development: this campaign continues his work 150 years on.

To launch the campaign, the charity is giving Scots a chance to win a holiday to Malawi which has been generously donated by tourism operators in Malawi.

15 different Malawian products are included within the campaign, including coffee, rice, nuts, gin and wine. Many of these products, like Linga Wine have their own story of Scotland-Malawi cooperation. All coffee in Malawi, for example, dates back originally to a single plant brought from the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens in the 1880’s.

Malawi has a population of around 17 million people. 80% are farmers and, with roughly half the population living on less than £1 a day, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

Stuart McMillan MSP said: “Inverclyde schools have links with Malawi and I am happy to help promote the Scotland Malawi Partnership locally. With local school children learning about their peers in Malawi and vice versa can only be a good thing to help that shared understanding of our two countries.

“I wish the Scotland Malawi Partnership well and look forward to seeing more trade between our two countries.”

David Hope-Jones, Principal Officer of the Scotland Malawi Partnership said: “Malawi is known for having some world-class products, and we’re delighted help build Scottish markets for these goods.”

“Malawi operates a trade-deficit, importing more than it exports. By building markets for Malawian exports, we’re able to help support sustainable livelihoods as Malawi works its way out of poverty, and we can help Malawi reduce its dependence on harmful tobacco production.

“Stuart McMillan was a great sport tonight and wonderful to have him representing Greenock and Inverclyde’s links with Malawi.”
The Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) is the national civil society network coordinating, supporting and representing the people-to-people links between our two nations. It represents more than 1,000 Scottish organisations and key individuals with Malawi links, including every Scottish university, over 200 schools, half Scotland’s local authorities, and hundreds of churches, businesses and community groups.

SMP Members in Inverclyde include:
1. Clydeview Academy (partnered with Namadidi Community Day Secondary School, Zomba region); Garvel School (partnered with Mua School for the Deaf, Dedza region); Gourock Primary School (partnered with Namadidi Primary); Inverclyde Academy (partnered with Chiradzulu Secondary, Chiradzulu region); Inverkip Primary School (partnered with Malavi Primary School, Chikwawa); King’s Oak Primary (partnered with Chiradzulu Full Primary School, Chiradzulu region); Notre Dame High School (partnered with Njamba Secondary, Chiradzulu region); Port Glasgow High School (partnered with Nguludi Secondary, Chiradzulu region); St Mary’s Primary (partnered with Chikuli Primary, Chiradzulu region); Wemyss Bay Primary School (partnered with Malire Primary School, Malire region) and Whinhill Primary School (partnered with a school in the Chiradzulu region): all have active, dignified, two-way school-to-school links which are informing and inspiring generations of young Scots to be good global citizens. These links are transforming lives in Malawi and Scotland.
2. Inverclyde Council

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