Malawi vs. Madonna: Singer stripped of VIP status, accused of making 'poor people dance for her'

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Image Credit: Amos Gumulira/Getty Images

The nation of Malawi has expressed itself — and it isn’t too happy with Madonna, who recently capped a weeklong visit to the country where her children David and Mercy (both 8 years old) were born.

When Madge, her four kids, and her entourage first arrived in the African nation on Monday, they were treated as VIPs — given heavy security, the right to breeze past checkpoints, and, presumably, a wide berth from any and all hydrangeas.

By the time they returned to Malawi’s Kamuzu International Airport on Saturday, things had changed. The Telegraph writes that the music icon and her crew saw their VIP status revoked. (According to Global Philanthropy Group president Trevor Neilson, the story is “a complete fabrication.” He told EW via e-mail, “Madonna hasn’t been stripped of any status.”)

“There was a directive that Miss Louise Ciccone… and her children should use the ordinary passenger terminal on their way to their jet,” an airport source told the paper. “Each and every person on her entourage went through the normal security checkpoints…. All their luggage went through security screening which never happened before.” Adding insult to injury, “We told them we can’t open the VIP lounge without authorization.”

According to Malawi’s chief immigration officer, visitors can be afforded VIP treatment only if authorities are notified of their visit in advance; Her Madgesty apparently neglected to follow this protocol. 

Assuming this story’s true, a lack of notice doesn’t seem to be the only reason pop’s first lady was allegedly treated poorly. Malawi’s authorities are reportedly unhappy with the way she’s treated their countrymen and the way she’s been running her local charities. The nation’s education minister accused the singer of “exaggerating” her involvement in charitable work there, while Malawi president Joyce Banda — who did not meet with the singer during this trip — complained that the celebrity had come to her country “unannounced and proceeded to villages and made poor people dance for her.”

Presumably, Banda was also unimpressed with Madonna’s most recent correspondence: a handwritten note in which the singer addressed the leader informally as “Joyce” and misspelled the word “responsibility” to boot.

Madonna herself hasn’t yet responded to EW’s request for comment. According to the Telegraph, though, a spokesman for the singer has traced the bad blood back to a “grudge” Banda has had since her sister, Anjimile Oponyo, was fired from Madonna’s Malawian foundation for alleged theft. Oponyo has reportedly denied these allegations.

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