Why Madonna May Be Good for Malawi

May 6, 2009

Madonna with her son in Malawi last March (c) AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP/Getty Images
Madonna with her son in Malawi last March (c) AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP/Getty Images

Madonna’s appeal to a Malawi court regarding her adoption of a little girl was heard this week.  Personally, I could care less if Madonna adopts another child.  I am not interested in the debate as to whether she is being given even more grief than last time because she is now a single mother.  Or whether she uses her fame, money and influence to speed up the adoption process.  I am not engaging in the controversy over whether this constitutes child trafficking, or whether the child is better off staying in her home country or growing up in a privileged white woman’s house.  Maybe this makes me a bad person.  But what I am concerned about is that Malawi is in the news at all.

Malawi is not “sexy.”  Oprah doesn’t have a school there, the international community is not focused on genocide or civil conflict within its borders, there is no oil, influence or power.  What it does have is an estimated 12% HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, is locked in the midst of a food crisis due to alternating flood and drought conditions, where 111 children out of every 1,000 die between birth and the age of five (one of the highest under-five mortality rates in the world), is the world’s 14th poorest country and is gearing up for potentially controversial general elections on May 19th.

So if Madonna has people talking about a country I would guesstimate that 95% of Americans couldn’t find on a map, let alone correctly pronounce its name, then I say “good on ya, Madge!” Keep them talking. Maybe wear that cone bra to court.  And every time you or one of your “representatives” are interviewed, maybe slip in a few of the above noted facts until people are talking more about the humanitarian conditions in Malawi that affect millions of children than they are about the impact you may have on just one child.

Written by Sarah Hager, Southern Africa Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA