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Respond favorably to Madonna in Malawi

April 8, 2010  »  VideoNo Comment

March 25, 2011 update: Plans to build the school have failed miserably. In retrospect, the article title should be negated… Read more about the failure.

Imagine the following dialogue: An American woman and advocate for children’s education is funding the construction of a school for girls in Malawi. Wow, that is great. If only more people acted so generous. The woman is the pop-star Madonna. Oh, with her money, she could do anything she wants. Didn’t she adopt children from Malawi even though she has a biological daughter?

Too many individuals let emotions interfere with the facts. Let us focus on the real issue rather than falling into that trap. The other day, Madonna laid the first bricks of a new school in Malawi. The school will be complete with current technology and apparently will also utilize mobile technology. One school will make a difference to scores of children. Madonna is not sexist for not providing a school for boys. Madonna is not responsible for the conflict between the village and government over property rates. Instead, Madonna is an active participant in an under-looked cause rather than a dormant gossiper who simply writes checks for charity. At the recent groundbreaking, she publicly voiced her commitment to supporting education, saying:

Knowledge is power and every child in this world deserves to have an education, and for me there’s no better way to end poverty and suffering in the world then to end ignorance in the world and to allow and advocate education for children everywhere.”

Ultimately, the public should not permanently associate Malawi with Madonna. We don’t want people to say, “isn’t that Madonna’s pet project” or “didn’t Madonna adopt a child, fund a school, and wear a $500 watch to the groundbreaking ceremony?”.  Sadly, however, it does take a famous name to get the word out about any type of event (think of it as product placement). The American and European media would not bother to report the construction of a new school unless it was in the outlet’s local community. Such is life, but when it comes to Malawi and Madonna, avoid celebrity stereotypes and look at the bigger picture. After all, Malawi will soon have a new school with modern ICT.

{YouTube video from ITN}

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