Madonna vs. Malawi is heating up. The 54-year-old superstar is striking back after Malawian government officials accused her of making VIP demands during her recent visit to the impoverished African country.
"I was very happy to visit with the children of Malawi earlier this month and to see with my own eyes the ten new primary schools in Kasungu province that Raising Malawi and buildOn completed this past year," Madonna tells Us Weekly in a statement Thursday, April 11. As part of her Raising Malawi Foundation, Madonna made the trip with her kids, Lourdes, 16, Rocco, 12, Mercy, 8, and David, 7. "My children and I were overjoyed to visit these schools and see what amazing progress has been made. I will continue to follow through on my commitment to help educate the children of Malawi."
After Madonna's visit last week, the government slammed the "Like a Prayer" singer for reportedly demanding VIP treatment at the airport and exaggerating her charity efforts.
"Granted, Madonna is a famed international musician," the government said in a statement. "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."
"Kindness, as far as its ordinary meaning is concerned, is free and anonymous," the statement said. "If it can't be free and silent, it is not kindness; it is something else. Blackmail is the closest it becomes."
But Madonna firmly denies the "blackmail" that the government alluded to in their allegations.
"I'm saddened that Malawi's President Joyce Band Malawian has chosen to release lies about what we've accomplished, my intentions, how I personally conducted myself while visiting Malawi and other untruths," she said Thursday. "I have no intentions of being distracted by these ridiculous allegations."
"I came to Malawi seven years ago with honorable intentions. I returned earlier this month to view the new schools we built. I did not ever ask or demand special treatment at the airport or elsewhere during my visit," she argued. "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 Grammy winner had planned to build a Girls' Academy in Malawi through her charity Raising Malawi, but then decided instead to build smaller schools in cooperations with another organization, buildOn. Regarding the change of plans, the Malawian government said in a statement, "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."
Still, Madonna maintains that her schools "are now educating more than 4,800 children with girls attending in equal numbers. These children who were formerly learning outside on the ground, in unsafe buildings or not at all, now get to attend classes on a daily basis."