[DEBATE] : Why is Madonna treating Africa like a little orphan that needs adopting?
grinker at mweb.co.za
Sat Oct 14 14:06:27 BST 2006
The TimesOctober 13, 2006
Why is Madonna treating Africa like a little orphan that needs adopting?
Notebook by Mick Hume
IF MADONNA wants to show off how much she cares for African orphans, why can't
she just wear a plastic wristband like every other moral poseur, instead of
being photographed wearing a Malawian baby on her back in a native sling? An
African baby seems to be the latest celebrity accessory.
Although Madonna's entourage has yet to confirm it, everybody in Malawi says
that she has adopted that year-old boy. If so, she follows the trend set by
Angelina Jolie, the actress who adopted an Ethiopian baby (and one from
Cambodia) then went to Namibia with Brad Pitt to have her own child.
The couple known as "Brangelina" got the Namibian Government to use
immigration rules to protect them from the media. Now Madonna, the "Queen of
Pop", seems to think she is Queen Victoria, waiving the rules in Malawi - a
former British colony - where foreign adoptions are supposed to be illegal.
But, the star's defenders say, people like me are just cynics. After all,
Madonna has pledged to help to fund a day centre to feed and educate orphans
in that Aids-ravaged country. Apparently this will offer "Spirituality for
Kids", a programme based on the mumbo-jumbo of Kabbalah. She has also
donated copies of her children's book, The English Roses.
OK, let's accept Madonna is sincere. But the attitude she embodies is
condescending and slightly obscene. No doubt if she adopts the baby he will
live in comfort. That is no excuse. Despite the headlines, this boy is not
an orphan - his mother died and he lives in an orphanage because his father
cannot afford to feed him. How is whisking him out of his village in front
of the world media addressing that problem?
Campaigners point out that Aids has "destroyed many families" in Malawi.
Solution? Let's break up another family by adopting their kid! Local child
advocacy groups protest that foreign adoption is not in the best interests
of the child or the community. But what do they know? They never had a No 1
When I was at school, there was a scheme called "Give a penny for a black
baby", where we picked a smiley picture of the African child to whom our
penny would supposedly be sent. Nobody thought that they would get to keep
the black baby in return for their money.
Her supporters say that when somebody such as Madonna (literally) makes a
song and dance in Africa, it helps to raise awareness. Is somebody still
unaware that many African children live in grinding poverty? The problem is
that few seem to think it is possible to do much about it, beyond giving
them a cuddle and a hand-out.
Madonna's music has always been derivative trend-surfing. Now her African
crusade is tail-ending not just Jolie, Bono and Bob Geldof, but the slightly
less glamorous Gordon Brown. When she says with typical modesty that, since
becoming a parent herself, she has "felt responsible for the children of the
world", she is singing from Father Brown's song sheet.
They end up treating the whole of Africa as a helpless baby to be adopted by
Western parents. Madonna's child charity is called "Raising Malawi", as if
the country were a toddler to carry on her back. A century ago in The White
Man's Burden, his ode to imperialism, Rudyard Kipling branded colonial
subjects "half-devil and half-child". Is the vision of Africans offered in
The White Madonna's Burden any more enlightened?
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