Law and Order

The Denial Was Both a Legal and a Moral Decision: The Case with Madonna

MadonnaThird world continent as many condescendingly call Africa. This concept of ‘third world’ undeniably propagate the notion of a place and a people with sickness, disease, poverty, corruption, misery, wars and all the terrible hellish things anyone could imagine.

In such a place, there is no due process of law and order. Only chaos and disorderliness obtains. Africa, as down thought the history had borne this international descriptive mark. Thus for so many westerners, as far as the continent in concerned, anything goes including taking children out of their native homeland in the name of adoption without due legal procedure.

What does the world think of Africa? Do people presume that the continent, added to her so many unhealthy labels, is also a market place where people could just stop by to pick-up children as one picks up artificial items. I wish the world could get this crucial point right. Adoption of any child, though a moral obligation, especially when it gives life and love to the child in question, should not be taken casually.

Few days back, the American singer and celebrity, Madonna, went to Malawi for another adoption of an African child. The local judge vehemently denied her the request. This denial triggered off a chain of media frenzy all over the world. Some say the judge acted with bias while others were of the opinion that Madonna, as a world celebrity neglected the proper legal procedure for adopting children. There is no question that most of people in the developed world see Africa as a very porous continent where there is no law and regulation and where everyone is ignorant and myopic. The arrogance of some of the world richest celebrities, with their concept of Africa is very insulting to the entire African continent as a whole. My plea to some of these conceited rich celebrities is to please learn to respect Africa as a continent.

I applaud the Malawian local court for her decision. It was not a decision based on bias. Rather it was based on the simple fact that Madonna had just arrived in the country few days. The Malawian law places emphasis on residency, for a certain period of time, of the would-be surrogate parent(s) as a requirement for adopting children. This is for the best interest of the child. Not for the populist glorification of Madonna’s ‘benevolence’ to the so called impoverished African children. Madonna was quite aware that the four year old child she proposed to adopt who goes by the name Chifundo James, was already being taken care of in the orphanage home where she is being fed and attends school. So she could not claim she was being a ‘redemptive savior’ to someone desperately impoverished as so many westerners would think. The fact is that there is nothing wrong in adopting a child from Africa. What is wrong is presuming that Africa is so porous and so lawless that any person from anywhere in the world could just go in to grab a little child and take home.

MadonnaCome to think about it. Madonna just wants to pick up this child and leave. There was no time for the child to get used to her. As common sense would dictate, it is not just enough for the surrogate parent(s) to adopt a child, it is also good if the child adopts the surrogate parent(s). The later is the principle upon which the law of adoption should hinge. If she had taken this child out of her native land, without the child getting to know her would-be mother, the Malawian government would have acted irrationally. A child should not be forced to live with somebody he or she does not like. The period of residency, as required in the Malawian adoption law is not only to help the government observe the person proposing to adopt but also, I would guess, to help the child familiarized with the would-be parents.

I listened to one fellow in a phone discussion with Roland Matins evening program in CNN. This fellow was blaming the Malawian authority for not allowing Madonna to adopt a child. This talking head claims she has been in Africa and seen how impoverished everyone in is and the need to not prevent foreigners to adopt children. This talking head was also ignorant of the fact that adoption is not a solution to helping African children. She also forgot to mention the psychological and emotional strain on any child taken out of his/her native land to live in another country forever, perhaps with no apparent contact with any of his his/her relatives or familiar people. The talking head in CNN also forgot the fact that material comfort is not the sole generator of the human happiness. That if material comfort decides human happiness, so many people in the west would not be clinically depressed in a massive scale. A materially poor people might be happier that those presumed to be swimming in excess. Anyway, I hope my friend; the talking head should be more open to the meaning of life, happiness and humanity.

I believe Madonna acted with insolent pride, proper to some of the western celebrities. She also insulted the intelligence of the Malawian people. How on earth did she presume that she could just go to Africa and come back with a child in one or two days? Did she not imagine in her wildest dreams that there are procedures and laws to follow. My advice to Madonna is that Malawi is not a lawless country that anything could go. Perhaps, she arrogantly must have thought that the Malawian government would just bow down to her simply because she is a famous rich world celebrity who happens to come from the west. How arrogant and insulting these people could be. Could you imagine any African going to any western country, and the next few days summons the count to grant him/her the permission to leave which a child? I mean without going thought the bureaucratic bottlenecks and red tapes involves, some of which could last for months or years.

Human right activists should be at the forefront of fighting for innocent children all over the world and protecting them from any form of exploitation. Celebrities also might take advantage of African children, not solely because they truly care for them, but because they want to expand their vain public images across the globe. African governments should make sure they protect children from careless and improper adoption of children. Those who want to adopt children from Africa should be given full process of the law. They should be scrutinized and investigated. Their physical residence, their characters, their mental history and their intensions ought to be properly examined. The Malawian government was, as shown through the local judge, has shown the rest of African countries that the protection of African children is at the core of African law. That even though Africa is not yet as industrialized  as other nations might be, she does not wish to give out her children, her future, carelessly for adoption unless due legal process has been followed. If Madonna really wants to help African children, she like Oprah Winfrey should use hear fortune to build elementary school, high school and universities where these children could have a better future and still be Africans.

For the rest who have the good intention of helping African children get out of poverty. I would tell them that the best way to do it is not thought giving aid or adoption of children.  They should help in changing the structure of global injustice that keep the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Africa has a traumatic past of her offspring being taken out from her and never returned and she fights to keep them save in Africa and give them future there.

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