Madonna in Bitter Clash With Malawi President
President Joyce Banda accuses the singer of demanding VIP treatment while traveling in the African country and alleges that the singer is not being truthful about the nature of her work.
Calling recent comments by Malawi's president "lies," Madonna has pushed back at bitter criticism from officials of her recent trip to the southern African nation to view progress of her humanitarian organization, Raising Malawi.
"I'm saddened that Malawi's President Joyce [Banda] has chosen to release lies about what we've accomplished, my intentions, how I personally conducted myself while visiting Malawi and other untruths," Madonna said in a statement Thursday. "I have no intentions of being distracted by these ridiculous allegations."
Those claims from President Banda are contained in a lengthy, sarcasm-soaked 11-point press release, issued on Wednesday. In it, Banda accuses Madonna of demanding VIP treatment while traveling there -- she apparently had to wait in a normal security line at the airport -- and alleges that the singer is not being truthful about the nature of her work.
"Among the many things that Madonna needs to learn as a matter of urgency is the decency of telling the truth," the statement reads. "For her to tell the whole world that she is building schools in Malawi when she has actually only contributed to the construction of classrooms is not compatible with manners of someone who thinks she deserves to be revered with state grandeur."
A release from Madonna's rep explains that Raising Malawi originally intended to build an academy in the struggling nation, but "realized that a more sustainable model would be to build smaller schools in villages around the country" via a partnership with buildOn.
The catalyst for the exchange is thought to be Banda's sister, Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo, who was fired by Raising Malawi due to "organizational problems," according to Madonna's statement. The statement from the president's office denies that Banda's beef with Madonna stems from her sister's firing.
Regardless, Banda cites her sister in one of the cattiest moments or her 11-point blasting of Madonna.
"For her to accuse Mrs. Oponyo for indiscretions that have clearly arisen from her personal frustrations that her ego has not been massaged by the state is uncouth, and speaks volumes of a musician who desperately thinks she must generate recognition by bullying state officials instead of playing decent music on the stage."
Much of Banda's statement is dedicated to accusing Madonna of seeking state treatment while traveling.
"Granted, Madonna is a famed international musician. But that does not impose an injunction of obligation on any government under whose territory Madonna finds herself, including Malawi, to give her state treatment. Such treatment, even if she deserved it, is discretionary not obligatory," the statement said.
Madonna denied the accusation and promised to not be intimidated.
"I did not ever ask or demand special treatment at the airport or elsewhere during my visit," she commented. "I will not be distracted or discouraged by other people's political agendas. I made a promise to the children of Malawi and I am keeping that promise."
The singer was in Malawi with her two adopted Malawian children, David Banda and Mercy James, both 8, and her daughter Lourdes, 14, and son Rocco, 12.