Few countries anywhere in the world enjoy a closer friendship.
Scotland and Malawi can trace their links back to the 1840s when legendary explorer and Christian missionary David Livingstone arrived in Africa.
And now, a Church of Scotland minister is aiming to deepen the relationship by exploring parallels between Gaelic culture and Malawi’s vernacular.
Rev Dr Kenneth Ross takes up his new role as the Kirk’s new mission partner in Malawi next month and is keen to develop his knowledge of the language and culture.
The former parish minister of the five Netherlorn Churches near Oban is learning Chichewa, a language native to Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Rev Ross, 60, said: “Most people think going from Argyll to Malawi is chalk and cheese – completely different.
“But these are both places that have a very strong heritage of language and culture, which to some extent have become marginalised with the advancement of English.
“In Scotland, we have realised that we will lose a lot if we lose the Gaelic language and culture and it is worth putting in a good effort to revive it.”
The Church of Scotland founded a mission named Blantyre in Malawi in 1876 and, by 1957, there were 67 Scottish missionary families in the country.
For Rev Ross, moving to the Zomba region is a homecoming because he lived there with his family from 1988 to 1998 and helped to establish the first theology degree at the University of Malawi Chancellor College.
He was made an OBE in 2013 for services to the community in Malawi and to Scottish-Malawi Relations, and will be based at Zomba Theological College.
He will also support the Nile Theological College in South Sudan, the Giffen Institute of Theology in Kanyama refugee camp, Kenya; and the beginnings of a theological department in the Igreja Evangelica de Cristo em Mocambique.
He said: “It is a bit of a roving brief and I am very excited about it.
“In addition to hands-on teaching and training, I will also be working with the leadership of institutions across the region and help them to strengthen their work.”
Mr Ross, who led the Netherlorn churches – Craignish, Kilbrandon, Kilchattan, Kilmelford and Kilninver – for nine years until recently, said his new role blended a “nice mix of old and new”.
He said: “In some ways, I will be in a community that is very familiar, but there is also aspects of my role that will be more challenging.
“For example, I have been invited to go to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, twice a year to teach.”
The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and the country was plunged into a bloody civil war two years later.
At least 400,000 lives have been lost, more than four million people are displaced from their homes and nearly eight million are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The impact of climate change on Africa is a major problem and Cyclone Idai recently caused catastrophic flooding and destruction in large areas of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The scale of the tragedy is huge with 2.6 million people affected, including at least 1,000 people left dead.
Dr Ross said: “Campaigning for climate justice is going to be a big part of my life.
“It is apparent that it is often the people who have contributed least to global warming who are the hardest hit.
“It is high time that we acted with more urgency and determination to tackle this crisis.”