Saturday, October 14, 2006

Madonna: treating Africans like playthings


There seems to be no end to the rumours that the multi-millionaire, ageing 'Queen of pop', Madonna is in the process of adopting an African baby that lives in a Malawi orphanage. Mind you, they still remain just stories at the moment without confirmation from her majesty Madonna herself, and her posh husband Guy Ritchie. Oh no, seems it's wasn't enough for Madonna to simply donate $3 million towards orphanages in Malawi - oh no, she just had to get herself one of those cute little orphans too. Well? What's wrong with that you may say, she's doing them a huge favour, isn't she?

Madonna, is an unashamed self-publicist, who's decadent perceptions seems to think it's perfectly acceptable to openly flaut Malawi laws on adoption all in order to get what she wants. What is more disturbing, is that the one year old African behind all this posing, David Banda, turns out he's not even an orphan anyway. The boy's father gave him up to the orphanage after his wife died, shortly after giving birth to David. The father simply couldn't afford to feed the baby.

The truth is, Madonna is treating all Africans as if they were children, just a little something to be played with, or even owned. She is simply following in the Victorian footsteps of Dr. David Livingston, and those other great 'saviours' of African people, like M'lud Sir Bob Geldof and his sidekick Bono.

Even Madonna's charity 'Raising Malawi' gives the impression that Africans are to be treated as if they were small children - it is condescending in its extremes. Does Madonna really believe that by snatching a baby boy away from his father and community, that this will be beneficial to the rest of the poverty stricken people left behind, after the world's press have moved on? Madonna has no answer to that, instead, she acts like a colonialist and treats the entire nation of Malawi as if it was just one of her little playthings.

UPDATE: The perils of adopting a non-orphan continue.

8 Comments:

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Tom Paine said...

I think you are being a little hard and not - in this instance - particularly libertarian. This child, rather than spending its life in an orphanage, is going to get every conceivable opportunity in life. That will liberate another place in the orphanage for a child without a home or family. Two children are better off, one very much so.

What is Madonna doing that is actually wrong? For that matter, how do you know what her motivations and attitudes are? It seems hard that she wants to raise a child and gets criticised. Yet you accept without question the father's reported justification for abandoning his child. I don't say this is true of you (how could I know?) but it seems that much coverage of this story is motivated by simple envy. One of the worst things about Britain is the routine resentment of anyone who is successful.

 
At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Tom Paine said...

I think you are being a little hard and not - in this instance - particularly libertarian. This child, rather than spending its life in an orphanage, is going to get every conceivable opportunity in life. That will liberate another place in the orphanage for a child without a home or family. Two children are better off, one very much so.

What is Madonna doing that is actually wrong? For that matter, how do you know what her motivations and attitudes are? It seems hard that she wants to raise a child and gets criticised. Yet you accept without question the father's reported justification for abandoning his child. I don't say this is true of you (how could I know?) but it seems that much coverage of this story is motivated by simple envy. One of the worst things about Britain is the routine resentment of anyone who is successful.

 
At 7:18 AM, Blogger The Intolerant One said...

If she truly is the good samaritan she likes to portray herself as then why not donate all the money she just spent on adoption legalities towards even more orphans. In fact, why not take all her money and go live with them.

You are bang on with your assemnet of her and her shameless "publicity" stunts. It was no different then her most recent tour where she mocks the crucifixion (again).

She knew that would get many religious organizations riled up. The minute they go public with their disdain for her antics she sells out her concerts with out half the promotion other more talented artisits would require.

 
At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Lucyp said...

I have conflicting feelings about Madonnas actions that flit between both Courtneys and Toms comment above. I am very much undecided but the bottomline is this child will get a better quality of life now than if madonna did not adopt him but maybe it is because of her, maybe because she is a personality, but i do feel slightly uneasy about it.

 
At 2:40 PM, Blogger Courtney Hamilton said...

Tom,

There is no doubt that the Malawi baby boy will get everything he needs from Madonna - however, normally when we donate money to starving children in Africa or elsewhere, we're not normally expected to take one of the starving kids home with us either.

It is the manner in which she adopted this baby is what I find most objectionable. Indeed, Madonna is openly circumventing Malawi law on adoption. Foreigners are strickly forbidden from adopting a Malawi child without first having to spend nearly 2 years residing in Malawi. Madonna seems to think it's perfectly fine and acceptable to flaut Malawi Law in broad-daylight.

"What is Madonna doing that is actually wrong? For that matter, how do you know what her motivations and attitudes are?"

You are right Tom, I do not know what her real motivations were - but two comments from local Malawi residents in yesterdays Sunday Times highlights one possible motivation for the adoption. Locals were reported to have said "Madonna spent only a little more time choosing David than she would a handbag,” one local was quoted as saying, while others suggested that an “African child would be good for the Madonna brand”.

Even David Holmes, the CEO of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering argued in the Sunday Times, that the manner by which Madonna had adopted baby David made "the child look a bit like a commodity".

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2404380_2,00.html

"One of the worst things about Britain is the routine resentment of anyone who is successful."

I agree with you Tom, I'm not against Madonna because she has boat loads of money - Indeed, she is rich, and deservedly so, after all, the woman is undoubtedly talented. What is so objectionable, is that we have a newly made British subject (Madonna), openly flauting the law in Malawi, which is a former British colony.

Most people in Malawi live in dire poverty, can the solution to that really be tearing apart a families by adopting their children? Some Malawi child campaigners have rejected this type of solution, they argue that it is best for the child to grow up in their own community.

What Madonna has done is to be extremely fashionable, if the adoption goes ahead, baby David will want for nothing ever again, and Madonna will be able to wear a real African baby around her neck (not too many Hollywod stars can say that), but all this is no excuse to ride roughshod over Malawi people and their adoption laws.

 
At 7:28 PM, Blogger Roland Dodds said...

Interesting topic Courtney. I guess I have mixed feelings about Madonna’s apparent adoption (and western adoptions through the developing world for that matter). While I can not comment on each Hollywood star’s reasoning for adopting children from these countries, it does appear to me that the act is becoming “fashionable”. And there are some negative consequences to that. As you stated, an “African child would be good for the Madonna brand”, and I personally think this is one of the main reasons an individual like Madonna would be interested in the adoption. That may be a very cynical thing to say, but this woman (along with countless other celebrities) have to go to great lengths to stay “relevant” and in the headlines. This may be yet another publicity stunt, and that is unfortunate.

And yet, I don’t have a problem with folks adopting children from the third world. This child’s life will surely be “better” being Madonna’s son (better as in wealthier: I don’t know how it will socially affect the child).

 
At 9:00 PM, Anonymous Tom Paine said...

I am trying hard to understand where people are coming from on this. She's doing a good thing. He's a lucky little boy and we should wish him well. It would be great if she could adopt more, but in fairness she is also donating millions to help other children there. I don't know if she is following a fashion, but a fashion for kindness would be a damned good thing. Let's hope she starts one.

As for "better" not exactly being the same as "wealthier", that's really quite funny. Maybe he won't be any better off for being the child of a multi-millionaire rather than the child of a moderately well-off person, but either way is better than being an abandoned child in abject poverty. Rich kids have "social" problems sometimes, that's true. So do all kids. The number one gift a child can have is a loving parent in a position to care for him. If he gets that, he's lucky. Specifying more detail is just nitpicking.

Of course the child's welfare comes first, but as that's a given, what about Madonna herself? Her maternal feelings are perfectly natural and some of the catty remarks are really quite inhumane. She may be rich, but she's a fellow-human with feelings. A desire to have children is natural. Adoption is a respectable way to fulfil that desire. Adopting a child in dire need is a very kind and respectable way to do it. The stupid rules in Britain would have some leftist social worker showing off to his mates about giving Madonna a hard time by denying her the right to adopt. That kind of envy-driven horror is keeping vulnerable children from loving homes and forcing them to remain in perhaps the most dangerous and unnatural environment for a child - local authority "care."

If we want to criticise something, let's criticise that.

 
At 8:53 PM, Blogger Neil Davenport said...

It's hilarious to see Madonna now having to defend her actions, blaming 'the media' rather than her colonial attitude towards Africans ha ha. I wonder if she read Mick Hume's scathing Times column on this? We call but hope.

Cheers for linking up my weblog, Courtney.

 

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