Blog from the Chairman’s visit to Malawi, January 2010

The trip from London to Lilongwe was a long one and a tad boring. Apart from the odd funny moment I relieved my boredom with watching the movies on the flights. I like Johnny Depp but thought his new movie was dung.

One incident that had me laughing and highlights some of the problems they have in Africa over education. Our plane had to stop at Lusaka, Zambia to let passengers off & on and when the new passengers arrived it was quite obvious lots of them had never flown before. Each of them had to be shown to their seat as they could not count and did not know the alphabet. So sitting on seat 33F maybe easy for us folks but not in Africa. I actually started helping people as the flight attendants could not cope.

After about 20 hours travelling I landed at Lilongwe airport to be greeted by my friend Zak. He is an amazing guy and for £20 he gets my cases, fills in my visa, gets my passport stamped and gets me out of the airport before some are even off the plane. On the way he home he always gets me into the VIP lounge and taken to the plane by private car. Always good fun when folk are looking at you and wondering if you are somebody important or not and then they see you taking an economy seat and get disappointed.

Unfortunately I was in the air when Malawi won their first game in the African nations 3 – 0 against Bougie and his mob. This place is now bouncing and full of anticipation. Reminds me of the optimism we used have with Scotland. The Malawians are making all sorts of noises that if they win their next game they will win the tournament – brilliant!!! Hats off to them as most of them have nothing much to shout about but here they are with the world now looking at their football results. The second game is tomorrow and I am really looking forward to watching it on tv with the locals.

Anyway back to Malawi and after getting my car hire sorted (4×4 type thing) I had to put fuel in it. It is £1 a litre of diesel over here and £1.10 for unleaded. For one of the poorest countries in the world this place is extortionate. The problem the government have is that they do not export much so to generate money they tax everything. The only other ones making money are all the Indian & Chinese guys who own all the shops etc in the city.

Last night I was woken at 1am by my room shaking (not had any drink or drugs) and genuinely thought I had imagined it until I was told at breakfast that we had a small earthquake last night. Registered at 4 ish on the richter scale. Maybe I would have been better on the booze!!!

Today has been spent getting all my visits sorted and contacting the proper people. This is key as in Malawi nothing goes to plan and no one is on time. They would not bat an eyelid at being 2 hours late. That is Africa for you.

I make my first visit to the village tomorrow and I am really looking forward to it. It will be great to see the people again and get discussions ongoing about building the primary school. Hopefully I will also get a chance to go to the nursery that we support tomorrow but if not it will be Monday as Friday is a national holiday here and the country comes to a standstill. (not that it runs much quicker than that on any other day) Already the time I have here is being squeezed but hopefully I will get to complete all of my plans.

As I start to visit the villages etc I will update this blog and add some pics. I have with me the Rangers Media old football Rangers kit plus JJB donated some Rangers kids tops – thanks to you both. I also bought 120 kids t-shirts in Primark before I left at £1 each so it will be fun handing them out with the load of flip-flops I have. Hell knows how I managed to get on the plane with all that stuff. 2 cases weighing 26kg each plus hand luggage that my shoulder is still recovering from. Thank god Kenya Airways have not been taken over by Ryanair…


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