President not amused

US singer Madonna (third left) during a recent visit to Malawi.
US singer Madonna (third left) during a recent visit to Malawi.

LILONGWI — Malawi’s President Joyce Banda was “incandescent with anger” over a statement labelling US singer Madonna a bully, the BBC has learnt.

She was unaware of the harshly-critical statement that was issued by her office following Madonna’s recent visit to the country, senior officials have said.

The statement accused Madonna of exaggerating her contribution to the country and demanding VIP treatment.

Madonna, who was visiting her charity in Malawi, hit back at the criticisms.

She described them as lies and said she began her involvement in Malawi seven years ago “with honourable intentions”.

A well-placed source told the BBC that President Banda was “incandescent with anger” when she heard about the statement, and a senior official has confirmed she knew nothing about it.

The statement, issued on Wednesday, accused the star of wanting Malawi “to be forever chained to the obligation of gratitude”.

It claimed Madonna believed the government should have “rolled out a red carpet and blast the 21-gun salute” upon her arrival in Malawi.

The statement also accused her telling “the whole world that she is building schools in Malawi when she has actually only contributed to the construction of classrooms”.

Emily Banda, head of Malawi’s NGO board, said that although Banda “did not approve” or indeed know about the statement, there would be no apology for the mistake.

Some of the criticism of Madonna’s charity work was justified, she said.

In response to the statement, Madonna’s charity Raising Malawi said that she “did not ever ask or demand special treatment at the airport or elsewhere” during her visit and would not “be distracted or discouraged by other people’s political agendas”.

Madonna said in the statement that she saw “with my own eyes the 10 new primary schools in Kasungu province that Raising Malawi … completed this year”, during her recent visit. (BBC)

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