|Madeline was born on the 29th June 1911 in Maymyo, Burma, the eldest, and only daughter, of seven children. She was educated at church schools in Burma and India.On her father’s retirement from the Indian army in 1932 the family settled in England. Shortly afterwards Madeline qualified as a secretary and in 1936 met John (Jack) Robertson. They were married on the 5th December of that year at Barkingside, Essex.They had three children, Jean, Tony and Alan. During the Second World War, Madeline worked in the Admiralty.
Then in 1946 the family emigrated to Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, Jack having obtained a company transfer to the Roan Selection Trust copper mine at Mufulira. Within a short period of their arrival in the Copper Belt, Madeline and Jack identified themselves with the hopes and aspirations of the African population and in 1950 they hosted a meeting at their home at which they were introduced to a young teacher named Kenneth Kaunda. And so it was that the future Zambian President came to know Madeline well, phoning her on the eve of Independence to ask if she would be one of his nominated Members of Parliament.
Madeline Robertson gave great public service to the people of Zambia and was supported by Jack in everything she did. She was the only person to be re-nominated to Parliament and to serve a second term of five years – a great tribute to her popularity and integrity. Madeline was a champion of the ordinary people and fought many a battle in Parliament on their behalf, often incurring the wrath of Ministers who had other priorities. She was always fearless in the defence of what she believed was right. Her spirit and courage in defending the rights of women and children were a source of great admiration to everyone who knew her.
Whilst serving on the Executive of the Zambian Association of Women’s Institutes, Madeline was responsible for the Scholarship Scheme which enabled girls to go on to further education. She was also the Area vice-president for the East, West and Central African Region of the Associated Country Women of the World.
She retired from parliament in 1973 when Zambia became a one-party state, leaving for England in 1982 after her husband’s death. Madeline’s long association with the Africa she loved continued until her death in 1994, having spent every winter there with her children and grandchildren.
|Musikili Primary School, Mazabuka
Through her friendship with Diana Garner, Madeline closely followed the establishment of Musikili Primary School – on one memorable occasion inspecting building progress by cycling around the site.Madeline did not live to see the school completed, but she did anticipate the excellent facilities for some 160 multi-racial pupils, and the impressively high standard of education that they were to receive.Madeline’s friends felt that her contribution to progress in Zambia should not be forgotten and so this trust in her memory was created. Every year the Trustees, on the recommendation of the school’s headmaster, make an Endeavour Award to a pupil of Musikili Primary School in memory of Madeline Robertson. This award is given for exemplary scholastic endeavour, reflecting the challenges met by Madeline in her lifetime and her many achievements.
Madeline Robertson Trust, Registered with UK Charity Commissioners, reg no 1046452.
Mr Anthony Hugh Wootton Purkiss,
To make a donation, contact:
Mrs E Park, 45 Highsett, Cambridge, CB2 1NZ, UK
Mrs C Martin, Hagiar Kim Farm, P O Box 670157, Mazabuka, Zambia
or the school office: firstname.lastname@example.org