Madonna versus Malawi
The mud slinging between Madonna and Malawi continues.
The BBC is reporting that President Joyce Banda is furious that her office without her permission accused the American superstar of demanding VIP treatment and exaggerating her contribution to helping Malawi's poor.
The controversy started with a withering statement that said Madonna thinks the government "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."
Now Joyce Banda is "incandescent with anger" the BBC reports. But the anger is qualified.
Emily Banda, head of Malawi's NGO board, told the broadcaster although the president "did not approve" or was aware of the statement, there would be no apology either. Some of the criticism of Madonna's charity work was justified, she said.
The original, 11-point statement accused Madonna of overstating her contribution to educating Malawi's children.
"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. The difference between a school and a class room should be the most obvious thing for a person demanding state courtesy to decipher."
Madonna is hitting back. She issued a statement through her charity Raising Malawi saying the accusations were "lies" and that she was proud of the 10 schools she had built which were teaching 4,800 kids.
"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. 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.”
Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at the Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour