As one part of her celebration of a birthday (with a zero), my wife Rose chose to go to London to see a performance of a work we both love by the Royal Ballet Company at Covent Garden, ‘Cello’, [we might have gone without the ‘zero’ reason, but made more of it because of it]. We had a great time and I could have picked up several thoughts on our time in London to write about. Our visit to the National Portrait Gallery was as inspiring as always: I could have written about Beatrix Potter or Emily Pankhurst [especially the motto ‘Deeds above words’ in light of the current Sunday evening Soul Food focus on James]. We included in our walks a visit to Trafalgar Square [so much of central London is accessible just on foot!] And Trafalgar Square is what I’m choosing to write about.

The current installation on the fourth plinth, just revealed before our visit, is ‘Antelope’, by Samson Kambula, based on a photograph of Baptist preacher and pan-Africanist John Chilembwe and the European missionary John Chorley. The photograph was taken at the opening of Chilembwe’s new church in Malawi. What is interesting in this sculpture is the relative size of the characters: John Chilembwe is large and John Chorley is small. That says enough – but also Chilembwe has his hat on [forbidden in the presence of a white man at that time] and has his back to Chorley. Shocking!

Eventually Chilembwe is killed, having led an uprising against colonial rule, and his church is destroyed. John Chilembwe is a well-known name in Malawi; now, roads are named after him in many large towns and cities, including in Lilongwe, the capital city.

[You may choose to insert here your own examples of apparent defeat leading to victory!]

SPBC has had a long-standing relationship with churches in Malawi that we have recently reviewed and are in the process of re-establishing. There is such great promise in our new relationship and so much that we can learn from our brothers and sisters there.