Yes I did ask if I could be a backing singer for her. Well, you knew I wouldn't be able to resist. She was doing a photocall with women MSPs and gave us all T shirts so I suggested we could be her backing singers. She said she'd have to audition us so I take that as an invitation. Just waiting to hear when!
Anyway Annie (she's my pal now you see, first name terms!) is the Special Envoy for the Scotland branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and she was here to show us a film about her visit to Malawi. It looks like an absolutely stunning country but there are huge problems. Annie Lennox was there to see how much of a difference support from Scotland is making.
You can read more about it here.
I told her someone I knew who visited Malawi twice a year reported to me a big increase in the number of times he was offered sex with someone's daughter, some as young as ten years old. I asked if she was aware of problems with child sex abuse which, before I get half of Malawi emailing me and demonising me, I KNOW exist in lots of other countries and we're not exactly blemish free here either. But today we were talking about Malawi.
She said she hadn't witnessed anything like that but she told me that HIV Aids is a significant problem amongst young male teachers. And the reason is that they go into schools in a position of power and "have sex with" ie RAPE their young pupils, many of whom are HIV Positive. That shocked me and I really had to struggle to keep my composure. Anyone who knows me or has followed this blog will understand why.
Malawi is just one of 54 African countries. I'm very proud of the work Scotland does in Malawi and in particular the work of Mary's Meals, not least because they employ local people rather than go in and play the visiting white missionary role. We DO have a special relationship with Malawi but let's not forget the other 53 countries, many of whom could do with our help.