Madonna Sent the President of Malawi a Terrible, Handwritten Letter

Illustration for article titled Madonna Sent the President of Malawi a Terrible, Handwritten Letter

Always up for an opportunity to pose with crowds of poor African children, HRH Queen of Pop Madonna took another trip to Malawi last week to visit the handful of schools she's funding through her charity, Raising Malawi. Donning a fedora, she traipsed from village to village, dancing with locals and high-fiving people.

Madonna's "people" tried to get her in touch with Malawi's recently elected president, Joyce Banda, requesting an audience with Banda to discuss the educational endeavors Madge has launched throughout the country. Banda wasn't as enthused as the crowds of Malawians who greeted Madonna throughout her visit, however — she has accused Madonna of building 10 schools without acquiring government consent. This comes with comments from the Malawian education minister, Eunice Kazembe, which suggest Madonna hasn't coordinated her charity's projects with the government.

But Madonna wanted to give to extend her invitation once more, only this time with a terribly written letter to Banda, complete with multiple spelling errors and run-on sentences. Scrawled on her yellow stationery, the letter reads:

Dear Joyce,

First and foremost let me Congratulate [sic] you on your position in Malawi! What an honor and what a huge responsability! [sic] I have always admired your strength and courage and have very fond memories of when we met and spoke and we interviewed you for documentary [sic] as you know I am in Malawi for the week. If you have any time in your busy schedule to meet that would be great if not know I am here to be of service and continue to do what I can to support the children of Malawi!


Who needs commas? Spelling responsibility with an "a" makes more sense, anyway. Banda wasn't pleased with Madonna's little note, or her entire photo shoot/visit, really, and stated, "She came unannounced to villages and made poor people dance for her."

The whole debacle lends itself to the argument that Madonna is treating the country of Malawi like her little pet project instead of interacting with it as a proper state. It's pretty insulting to send the president of a nation a shitty, handwritten note she probably wrote right after she took her post-flight Ativan, and Banda calling her out for making "poor people dance for her" hits the nail on the head when it comes to celebrity charity missions to third world countries.

In all fairness, Madonna's mission in Malawi has always been straightforward: "I'm here because I care deeply about the children of Malawi. That is my main priority." With a $400,000 educational project which benefits roughly 4,000 children, there's no doubt that Madonna has an earnest goal to change the education system of Malawi. But if she spent half a million dollars on the schooling project, she probably should've paid someone at least a dollar to edit her note to President Banda, too.

[Daily News]

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Ginger, get the popcorn!

Good lord. I work in international development, and though I try not be cynical and exclusionary, I'm so fucking OVER celebrities thinking they can just swoop in, dump some money on a country/problem they know very little about, and then go back to their 10 bedroom mansions and feel good about themselves.

Madonna, if you wanted to help the people of Malawi, there are a couple of things you should have done/could still do:

1. Recognize that just because they are living in developing countries does not mean they are not full, actual adults.

2. Recognize that you know basically nothing about development. This is just fine. I know nothing about being an amazing musical performer. But please consult with people who DO know what they are doing (hint: in Malawi, most of those people will be Malawian).

3. If you want to help, give your money to an established charity or aid organization already in Malawi—they probably know what to do with your donation FAR more than you do, and they can harmonize efforts made using your donation with other, ongoing, efforts.

4. Address the President of Malawi with some respect! "Dear Joyce" isn't it.

5. Most importantly, please for the love of god, remember, THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. People in developing countries are not playthings.