Madge was in town

“You started by adopting four Malawian children, now we are adopting you as the daughter of this nation,” President Peter Mutharika.

Shakespeare was right, there is always a tide in affairs of men—for want of being gender sensitive, women, too. Of course, women like Madonna and Joyce Banda (JB).

The former was in town this week, entertaining, reprimanding as she opened a hospital wing in honour of her adopted daughter, Mercy James. JB is still in self-imposed exile.

Time flies. Just a few years ago, JB was firmly in power and it was Madonna who was fast exhausting her welcome in this country. She was also once subject of a State House no-holds barred press statement that tore into Madonna’s alleged flaunting of stardust on hosts unwilling to play ball.

“Besides, in the feeling of Madonna,” Banda’s gifted publicists memorably wrote in April 2013, “the Malawi Government and its leadership should have rolled out a red carpet and blast the 21-gun salute in her honour because she believes that as a musician the whiff of whose repute flies across international boundaries, she automatically is candidate for VVIP treatment.”

There was no turning back in the frosty relations of the two.

The World media cheered on. The Guardian republished the whole statement in an article headlined: ‘Madonna earns the wrath of Joyce Banda – full statement’ and further cajoled:

“We had been studiously avoiding coverage of Madonna’s latest trip to Malawi, but such is the deliciousness of the excoriating 11-point press release put out yesterday by Joyce Banda that we couldn’t resist wading in.”

The Independent seemingly celebrated a slap on the mega rich star’s face in an article titled ‘President Joyce Banda: When Madonna met her match’.

“She has broken Africa’s glass ceiling, tackled corruption and fought for gay rights. The queen of pop never stood a chance,” it added.

The feud had hallmarks of a thriller. Personal. Banal. Tribal. Egoistic. And still is. Banda’s sister had previously worked for Madonna’s Raising Malawi Foundation before unceremoniously dismissed. It was payback time.

Fast-forward 2017. Banda is out in the cold; fearful of returning home. Nemesis Peter Mutharika is now in charge.

Your enemy’s enemy is your friend, as they say. APM is now in bed with Madge. Mutharika is rolling the red carpet; and named Material Girl star the country’s global ambassador. Just short of the gun salute, perhaps.

Trivia? Not until Madonna’s recent visit is cast in further context.

For starters, the children’s hospital bodes well for many innocent young lives. Madonna’s benevolence, though, must be tampered by realisation that it’s coinciding with 53rd independence celebrations.

This is an indictment of our failure. As a people, we remain a charity case. Yet, God gave us everything; plenty of arable land, water, minerals, etc.

Over half a century after sending the British packing, we have mismanaged our business so much that we can’t survive without foreign aid. And that is a scandal.

It’s scandalous, too, to see the ruling party, for example, ferrying party women to dance and applaud at such an event. Those women donning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regalia—seen loitering outside the hospital after being denied access to the venue of the Mercy James Centre’s opening ceremony—had no business at the hospital.

It’s not only a demeaning and stupid tradition; it’s costly, too, to both the individual and State. The cheerleaders waste precious time, instead of adding value to the economy and their households. They instead wait for crumbs from rich politicians’ tables.

On the other hand, government resources are diverted from more pressing priorities to cater for this needless expenditure.

You add corruption to the mix, then you have a complete picture why we can’t afford to build a hospital to save our own children on our own.

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