Madonna’s $15 million Malawi school displaces 200 villagers


I was fully prepared to write about this story with a “Madonna is a neo-colonialist bitch” slant. But I just can’t, because I think this story is being hyped to make Madge look terrible, when really she’s actually trying to do the right thing. So, Madge announced a while ago that she planned to build and partially finance a $15 million girls’ school in Malawi. Instead of buying a parcel of land, from what I understand, the Malawi government gave her a parcel of (government-owned) land to built the school. Unfortunately, 200 local Malawians live on the land, and now the government is trying to force them out, and they’re putting up a fight. Madonna tried to do the right thing (I guess, if there is a “right thing” in this situation) and paid each villager roughly $115,000 to relocate.

Malawi’s government has told a group of villagers they will have to move to make way for a $15 million girls’ school being built by pop star Madonna.

Residents have refused to leave the site just outside Lilongwe, the capital.

Lilongwe District Commissioner Charles Kalemba told 200 villagers Thursday that the government land has been handed over to Madonna. The villagers have been offered other government land.

Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo, who will be principal of Madonna’s school, says the singer paid the villagers more than 16 million kwacha (about $115,000) to compensate them for their houses.

Headman Binson Chinkhota urged residents to move, saying the school would benefit their children.

[From Huffington Post]

Now, this is a crappy situation, but I don’t think Madge is the only one who should be bashed, if there is bashing to be done. It kills me how subservient the Malawi government is being to Madge, even to the extent of throwing 200 of their own people out of their homes. As for Madonna, her share of the blame is this: why did she need government-owned land? Why couldn’t she buy a parcel of land that wasn’t being used? Why does she need to build a school on land that’s already being used? I don’t get it.

Madonna in Malawi for the tree-planting ceremony for the school, on October 26, 2009. Credit: INFphoto. Also, a photo of the Malawi school as it’s being constructed. Credit: WENN.


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20 Responses to “Madonna’s $15 million Malawi school displaces 200 villagers”

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  1. bella says:

    Kaiser, the answer to all of your questions is: because she’s Madonna, and she can. That’s it in a nutshell.

  2. sunspot says:

    Maybe the Malawian government would only allow her to do it by their terms. My guess is that they wanted the people off that land in the first place and found a convenient way to get a rich American to pay for it. Clearly Madonna is not doing this so she can force some poor folks out of their homes. Seriously, that’s just idiotic.

  3. ronnie says:

    Where does it say that she paid them EACH $115,000? I read it as she paid them as a group that amount to leave. Jeez, if she’d paid them that much each they’d be some of the richest people in Malawi now!

  4. boo says:

    It’s probably all government owned land there. I would love to know the real story behind this.

    If 200 people are indeed being relocated, how far are they being relocated? Are there utilities where they live now like running water and sewers and, if there are, will there be utilities where they are being relocated to? Why didn’t they just build the school on an unoccupied piece of government land?

  5. JulieNewmar says:

    Malawadonna Land .. just rename it and be done with it once and for all.

  6. Giz says:

    Maybe she got a better deal with the govt regarding the land. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that people with lots of money are just clueless at times!

  7. bros says:

    At any given time,there are probably hundreds of people living on any parcel of land there that is suitable for developing. The government probably wanted to be paid $$ for the land purchase, and it happened to have people living on it. this happens everywhere-its eminent domain. im not totally in favor of this, but 200 people is not that many, and it sounds like they are 1. being compensated for relocating, and 2. not relocating too far away if they are being told the school will benefit their children. I agree with Kaiser that this is a tempest in a teapot. I also agree with one of the above posters that much of the land in malawi is probably government administered/owned.

  8. Beth says:

    I wonder if $115,000 for the people is a lot or a little. In the western world this is obviously no money but it could be a lot in Malawi, even for 200 people. I would hope Madonna paid to much but I heard she’s really cheap.

  9. thepickle says:

    Agree with bros…i was going to say, the school needs to be close to where people live. And does the village/town have a civil engineer? etc?? maybe this has something to do with available water..don’t you think Madge would want good plumbing in her school?

  10. mockey says:

    sorry… I don’t see why those people should move.
    These kind of shit happened a lot in africa ( my family is from congo)
    find another location

  11. snapdragon says:

    ummm….no. these people should not have to move. madonna should take a flying leap.

  12. MM says:

    Yeah, I heard $115,000 to split among the whole group. . . . . Now how much did Madonna’s New York townhouse cost again? $30 million or something?

    This story about building a school would be heartwarming if it was anyone else. I can see Madonna being her typical controlling self here in building and running the school.

  13. filthycute says:


  14. lin234 says:

    The design for the school looks so pretty. Is it just me or does 15 million sound like a really high number to build one school in Africa? I would have thought it would have cost a lot less just based on the cheaper manual labor.I have no idea how much construction workers in countries make, but it makes sense to me that salaries would be higher in the US.

    Also, I think there is a mistake. 115,000 for the whole village, not individually. The school is probably in a good district or something because I don’t understand why the school can’t be built on undeveloped land. I’m sure there are other parcels of land available.

  15. GatsbyGal says:

    She has the money to completely finance the school and to build a new home for each family that was thrown off that land. So….why didn’t she?

  16. Rianna says:

    It wasn’t 115,000 dollars each. That was for everyone. Basically Madonna paid each of them 575 dollars for their parcel of land and told them to beat it. The bitch is worth over 100 million and she could only afford that? Please.

  17. Josie B says:

    This is a bullshit story.
    Madonna is a brilliant businesswoman, I am sure she has gone over every detail.
    Get your facts straight!!

  18. canadianchick says:

    I hope her Sex book won’t be required reading.

  19. Arms says:

    The land probably has access to water, this isn’t America it’s Africa. Don’t hate.

  20. Babalon says:

    Water and plumbing and electricity and transportation…