15 October - Father of Madonna's Malawi child wanted him back
The father of the Malawian child pop star Madonna wants to adopt said on Sunday he had not originally planned to give up his son for good when he handed him to an orphanage after the death of his wife last year.
Yohane Banda told a British newspaper he put his son David in an orphanage when he was just over one month old, fearing that he was ill with malaria, which killed his two other sons.
"I suppose deep in my heart I always imagined that when he was better, or I had got another wife, I would go and take him back," Banda told the Mail on Sunday. "I did not think anyone would want to take him away."
But Banda, 31, said he and his family had agreed to allow Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie to adopt the child, believing it would give him the chance to receive a good education and grow up healthy.
"He will always be in my heart. I hate to see him leave Malawi but I have come to accept the loss," Banda said. "The government people told me it would be a good thing for the country. He will come back educated and able to help us."
Until recently, Banda said he had no idea the woman seeking to adopt his one-year-old son was a world-famous celebrity. He said all he knew was that she was a "nice Christian lady."
Banda met Madonna in court in Malawi at an adoption hearing. He told the Mail he looked into her eyes and "could tell from them that she was a good lady."
Malawi's High Court granted the 48-year-old entertainer and her filmmaker husband an interim order allowing them to take custody of the boy less than a week ago but the adoption plan has sparked anger in Malawi and elsewhere.
Malawian law prohibits adoptions by non-residents, but officials granted an exemption or waiver to Madonna. Human rights groups are challenging that decision and plan to seek a court injunction on Monday to stop the adoption.
Eye of the Child, the leading child advocacy group in Malawi, said the request would be filed in a magistrate's court in the capital Lilongwe on behalf of about five dozen non-governmental organizations.
The pop icon, who already has two children, could also face hurdles in Britain, where she lives, because she has failed to register with a local authority for adoption, the Mail said.
Madonna and Ritchie, who arrived in Malawi on October 4 on what was described as a humanitarian trip, left on Friday without the child, who did not have a passport. (source: Reuters)
14 October - Technical details of tour opener video
Steele (www.steelevfx.com) recently completed work on the show open music video for the Madonna Confessions Tour. The video - over eight minutes long - features the singer performing on stage, accented by eight giant screens placed throughout the arena, and introduces the audience to her new song, Future Lovers. NBC will air the concert, titled Live to Tell, in late November.
As the arena lights dim to open the concert, an eerie underscore begins and the video screens flicker to life. On screen, Madonna strolls through a dimly lit horse stable before turning to the camera with the spoken-word opening of her new song.
According to Steele co-founder and supervising visual effects artist Jerry Steele, there are six streams of video that play back at once on giant screens, some of which physically move together to form a single picture. "You literally can't be off by one pixel or frame," he notes.
One of the most striking FX sequences involves a pair of scenes in which horses rise from the Earth at the beginning of the video and descend into the ground at its conclusion. Monique Eissing served as lead visual effects artist on the job and says one horse was filmed in multiple plates, each with very specific framing requirements. She created and composited new, single pieces of land and sky so the horses could be lined up as desired. Because there was dust blowing in the air as a design element, more dust had to be composited to connecting points among the plates.
Fashion photographer/director Steven Klein directed the Future Lovers video (via DNA). Offline was handled by Clark Eddy using Apple Final Cut Pro. Stefan Sonnenfeld of Company 3 provided color grading for the video.
Steele conformed more than 50 percent of the program in Final Cut Pro and completed the rest of the conform and effects shots using Quantel eQ and Henry. (source: Post Magazine)
~ Please note that the title of the NBC special has not been confirmed yet.
14 October - Malawi groups to ask court to halt Madonna adoption
Human rights groups in Malawi will seek a court injunction on Monday to stop pop star Madonna from proceeding with the adoption of a one-year-old boy in the impoverished African nation.
Malawian law prohibits adoptions by non-residents, but officials are granting an exemption or waiver to Madonna, who has confirmed her intention to adopt the child who lives in a dilapidated orphanage near the Zambian border.
The legal challenge would come less than a week after Malawi's High Court granted the entertainer and her filmmaker husband Guy Ritchie an interim order allowing them to take custody of a boy identified as David Banda.
The couple, who arrived in Malawi on October 4 on what was described as a humanitarian trip, left on Friday without the child, who did not have a passport. They departed amid growing criticism within the former British colony to the adoption.
Eye of the Child, the leading child advocacy group in Malawi, said on Saturday the request for an injunction would be filed in a magistrate's court in the capital Lilongwe on behalf of about five dozen non-governmental organizations.
"They (government) haven't followed the law. What has happened is a shortcut," said Boniface Mandere, a spokesman for Eye of the Child, which is among the groups seeking the injunction.
A government spokeswoman declined on Saturday to comment on the impending injunction, the first clear sign of concerted opposition in Malawi to the adoption. One of Banda's relatives has questioned the way the adoption is proceeding.
Outside the country, Madonna's visit to Malawi has renewed criticism from those who accuse Western celebrities of using Africa and other parts of the developing world as a platform for misplaced, publicity-fuelled altruism.
Madonna spent most of her time in Malawi visiting orphanages and meeting charity workers as part of a campaign to publicize the plight of some 900,000 orphans in this nation of 13 million people, where AIDS has destroyed many families.
She has pledged to donate about $3 million to the campaign to help these children, many of whom are infected with HIV. The effort is being spearheaded by her Raising Malawi charity.
The 48-year-old star already has two children. (source: Reuters)
14 October - NBC moves ahead with plans to air Live To Tell
American Family Association reports that "Despite 739,989 emails asking the network to cancel Madonna's mocking of the crucifixion of Christ in an up-coming November special, NBC still plans to air the crucifixion mockery scene. NBC said they found nothing wrong with the scene mocking the crucifixion of Christ." This is good news for us, Madonna fans, it would have been tragical if Live To Tell was cut. However, latest rumour is that 'Don't Talk Don't Speak' (Sorry video interlude) is going to be taken out of the broadcast, considering its content.
14 October - Don't preach to Madonna about adoption
Children should be raised by both parents, of course, brought up in loving, culturally sensitive environments, in the communities in which they were born.
They should also have a pony, because keeping a pony is a lot of fun and teaches responsibility. Two ponies, actually, a matched set, so the first pony can rest while the other...
Sorry. The second sentiment is fanciful I admit, reflecting an idealized world. But so is the first. Most kids don't have ponies and many don't live with both parents. Millions upon millions don't even have one.
Thus a pox on critics of Madonna, such as the shrill she-beast Andrea Peyser at the New York Post, who called the star's adoption of an African toddler a "freakish slave auction."
Don't get me wrong -- I can sneer at Madonna's endless reign as a pop queen as well as the next guy. I just don't see how not thinking much of Papa Don't Preach translates into ridiculing the idea of international adoption because it deviates from some notion of how things would be in a perfect world.
The world as it is needs more adoptive parents, not fewer. Anybody who wants to care for a stranger's child should get a medal, and those who question them -- bureaucrats with more local pride than human pity, advocates looking to score a point on the endless racial tug-of-war, news harpies who will say anything that catches attention -- should be ashamed of themselves.
I remember when Anne and Ed Burke were being beaten up by a few Chicago activists exercised that they had dared to adopt a black child damaged by his mother's crack cocaine use. Their critics had no idea what they were talking about -- didn't realize that the Burkes had previously adopted three children -- yet cooked up all kinds of baseless accusations and preened in the spotlight, until they got bored and went away.
But the Burkes didn't get bored -- they remain as they always were, loving parents to the boy, quietly, behind the scenes.
You can never accuse Madonna of being quiet. But to damn her for outrageousness out of one corner of your mouth and then damn her for embracing motherhood out of the other is both hypocritical and wrong. Even stars get to have a private life, whether we like it or not. And nobody adopts a child as a PR gimmick, and accusing someone of doing so says more about the accuser than anyone else. (source: Chicago Sun-Times)
14 October - Adoption confirmed by Liz Rosenberg
There's nothing like family bonding--and, believe us, this is nothing like family bonding.
Just one day after being granted temporary custody of a year-old motherless Malawian child, Madonna and Guy Ritchie flew out of the southern African country Friday sans new son. Their private plane departed for an undisclosed destination just before 2 a.m.
The child, identified as David Banda, has been left in the care of Madonna's entourage, according to local officials.
Meanwhile, Madonna's publicist, Liz Rosenberg, confirmed the adoption plans for the first time Friday--contradicting her statement from a week ago shooting down reports of Madonna's maternity plans.
"Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie have been granted custody of their son David," Rosenberg said. "Final legal arrangements are being made to bring him home to his new family."
The babysitting detail was necessitated by some red tape, but, echoing Rosenberg, Malawi officials, who said they hope to reunite David with his new parental units as soon as possible.
"The baby hasn't gone yet because immigration is still trying to process his passport," a senior immigration official told Reuters.
In general, Malawi law does not permit international adoptions and requires would-be parents to spend between 12 and 18 months in the country being evaluated by Malawian child welfare workers. Malawian officials waived the restrictions for the Material Mom and her director husband, granting them an interim order to adopt on Thursday.
Benston Kilembe, director of child welfare services in the Ministry of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services, says the order allows the baby to travel with his new family but does impose restrictions on his care.
"One of the conditions, is that the boy will be monitored for any abuse of his rights and if he is treated differently from the other children," Kilembe told Agence France Presse. "The monitoring will be done by the government and if there is any abuse, the interim order might be revoked and the permanent custody of the boy will be canceled and he will be retrieved immediately."
But the arrangement is drawing complaints in the country and abroad, with critics carping that Madonna received preferential treatment.
Eye of the Child, a leading Malawian child rights group, says it is petitioning the government to put the interim order on hold and, if that proves unsuccessful, will seek an injunction to stop the adoption. Another human rights group, the Civil Liberties Committee, is also backing the move.
"It's not like selling property," Eye of the Child said in a statement. "It is about safeguarding the future of a human being who, because of age, cannot express an opinion."
"You cannot buy a child as if you are buying a house," the group's Boniface Mandere told the Associated Press on Friday. "This process is too short, applying on Tuesday, and [Thursday] the court gave the okay. I don't think that the High Court has any information about how Madonna is when it comes to child-rearing."
In Friday's edition, the ever blunt New York Post ran the headline "Shameless Star Buys African Souvenir."
One person who is positive about the fast-tracked adoption is David's father, who sent his child to the Home of Hope Orphan Care Center soon after his birth.
"They are a lovely couple," Yohane Banda told reporters Thursday after meeting Madonna and Ritchie following the preliminary custody hearing. "She asked me many questions. She and her husband seem happy with David. I am happy for him. Madonna promised me that as the child grows she will bring him back to visit."
Banda's wife died just days after delivering the child.
Prior to their Friday morning departure, the 48-year-old singer and her family had been on an orphanage-hopping tour of the African nation as part of the her Raising Malawi project, designed to clothe, feed and shelter more than 4,000 AIDS orphans. She has pledged to donate about $3 million to the campaign.
Once the adoption is formalized--a process that could take up to two years but will likely be less--David will join Lourdes, 9, and Rocco, 5, in the Ritchie clan. (source: E! Online)
13 October - Madonna leaves Malawi without adopted son
Pop star Madonna left Malawi on Friday without the one-year-old boy she is adopting but with a pledge from the impoverished southern African nation to try to reunite the two while the adoption process is under way.
The pop diva's departure followed a controversial nine-day humanitarian visit to Malawi, during which her aides denied earlier reports by government officials that she had chosen to adopt a boy.
The child, identified as David Banda, was not with Madonna as her white four-wheel drive vehicle swept onto the tarmac to a waiting private jet at the international airport in Lilongwe, Malawi's capital.
"The baby hasn't gone yet because immigration is still trying to process his passport," a senior immigration official told Reuters on Friday, hours after the pop star's plane left the country.
Malawian officials said Madonna had been granted an interim order to adopt Banda and could be given a waiver or exemption allowing her to skirt a law that prohibits non-residents from adopting Malawian children.
They said they expected Banda to visit and spend time with Madonna, who has homes in the United States and Britain, while waiting for a hearing on the application, which could take up to two years.
Officials at the Malawian embassies will monitor how the child relates to his new environment during that time and write reports that will form the basis of a Malawian court's decision on the adoption, according to a senior government official.
The news that Banda, who has spent most of his life in the dilapidated Home of Hope Orphan Care Center near the Zambian border, could be heading for a new life overseas was seen as a blessing at the orphanage and in surrounding villages.
The child faced a bleak future after his mother died and his father, a poor man from a nearby village, could not support him.
"If we didn't send Davie away to the orphanage we would have buried him," said Henderson Geza Dyedyereke, the chief of Lipunga, after confirming this week that Banda was being adopted by Madonna, who already has a son and a daughter.
"We were looking for ways of feeding the child at the time, but we could not, so we had to send him away," the chief said.
While Banda's father has agreed to the adoption, others are taking a dimmer view of the prospect.
Eye of the Child, a private Malawian child advocacy group, said on Friday that it was asking the government to reconsider its decision to approve Madonna's adoption application.
"We are appealing to the government to pend the interim order -- to delay it," said Maxwell Matewere, executive director of the group, which has questioned whether foreign adoptions are in the best interests of Malawian children.
Madonna's visit to Malawi also has renewed criticism from those who accuse Western celebrities of using Africa and other parts of the developing world as a platform for misplaced, publicity-fuelled altruism.
The 48-year-old singer of such hits as Holiday and Material Girl spent most of her time in Malawi visiting orphanages and meeting charity workers as part of a campaign to publicize the plight of some 900,000 orphans in this nation of 13 million people, where AIDS has destroyed many families.
She has pledged to donate about $3 million to the campaign to help these children, many of whom are infected with HIV. The effort is being spearheaded by her Raising Malawi charity.
Madonna stayed largely out of the limelight after arriving on October 4, although she was seen wearing a safari hat and in a jovial mood on a visit to one orphanage. (source: Reuters)
13 October - Madonna gets Malawi nod to adopt child
Malawi authorities granted Madonna an interim order to adopt a one-year-old boy from the impoverished African country, a senior court official said on Thursday.
The announcement brought to a climax Madonna's controversial week-long charity visit to the southern African country during which her aides denied earlier reports by government officials that she planned to adopt a child.
"Madonna was granted an interim order to adopt the child, which means that there's going to be a subsequent hearing by the same court to either allow her to adopt the child or not," the high court's deputy registrar Thomson Ligowe told Reuters.
Under Malawian law the hearing must take place within two years.
"This also means that she has been put on observer status to see how she will relate to the child, and people from social welfare will have to observe that. The court will depend upon their observations to make a final decision," Ligowe added.
The 48-year-old singer, a master self-promoter, has kept largely out of the limelight since arriving in Malawi on October 4, although she was seen wearing a safari hat and in a jovial mood on a visit to one orphanage.
Ligowe said Madonna was free to take the boy, David Banda, an orphan, when she leaves Malawi, most likely on Friday.
He added that there were conditions attached to the interim order but declined to give details, citing confidentiality provisions of the process.
Henderson Geza Dyedyereke, the headman of Lipunga, the boy's village near the Zambian border, confirmed the adoption plan on Wednesday.
He told Reuters he was informed of the adoption by Rev. Thomson Chipeta, the executive director of the Home of Hope Orphan Care Center in Mchinji, where Banda is being cared for.
Madonna and her filmmaker husband, Guy Ritchie, have homes in the United States and Britain, most unlikely settings for the young Banda, who has lived in a dilapidated orphanage since the death of his mother shortly after he was born.
A senior government official told Reuters that Malawi would use officials at its embassy in Washington to monitor how the child relates to his new environment and write reports that will form the basis of the court's next decision.
"Government in this instance will use our Washington office (embassy) to monitor the progress with the couple (Madonna and Ritchie)," said Andrina Mchiela, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
"And also government will appoint a welfare officer from Malawi to liaise with our Washington embassy and make visitations to where the child will be," she added.
Madonna, who has a son and daughter, has spent most of the past week visiting orphanages and meeting charity workers as part of a campaign to publicize the plight of some 900,000 orphans in the country of 13 million people, where AIDS has destroyed many families. (source: Reuters)
11 October - Madonna tops finalists for Billboard Touring Awards
Madonna leads the field for the 2006 Billboard Touring Awards with mentions in four categories, including top tour and top draw, respectively award to the top-grossing and top ticket-selling tour. The awards will be handed out Nov. 9 at New York's Roosevelt Hotel, capping the third annual Billboard Touring Conference.
The awards are based on actual box-office achievement based on data reported to Billboard Boxscore, as opposed to a popular vote. The period covered by the awards is December of 2005 through September of this year.
Madonna's run at London's Wembley Arena makes her a finalist in the hotly contested top boxscore category, which goes to the top-grossing single engagement. Also a finalist in that category are Luis Miguel at Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City and Billy Joel's record-setting stand at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Madonna is a contender in the following categories:
Bon Jovi, Have A Nice Day
The Rolling Stones, A Bigger Bang
Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden, New York
Madonna at Wembley Arena, London
Luis Miguel at Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City
Angela Becker and Guy Oseary (Madonna)
Front Line Management
RPM Management/Borman Entertainment
(Check out the rest of the finalists @ Billboard.com)
11 October - Malawian claims Madonna adopted his son
Madonna has adopted a 1-year-old Malawian boy whose mother died a month after childbirth, the baby's father claimed Tuesday, saying he was happy his son was escaping poverty.
Malawian government officials said last week the pop star planned to adopt a Malawian boy while she is in the impoverished African nation visiting projects she funds for AIDS orphans. However, they declined to comment on Yohame Banda's claim that his son David had been adopted by the singer.
Madonna has made no public comment since her arrival.
Her publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday: "I am unable to make any official statement at this time."
In a statement last week, Rosenberg said that the star was on a private visit working on projects for children, and dismissed statements from Malawian government officials that she and her husband, film director Guy Ritchie, planned to adopt a boy.
"I am the father of David, who has been adopted," Banda, 32, told The Associated Press Tuesday. "I am very very happy because as you can see there is poverty in this village and I know he will be very well looked after in America."
He said his wife Marita died a month after the baby's birth from childbirth complications and the child had been cared for at the Home of Hope Orphan Care Center in Mchinji, a village near the Zambian border.
Banda said his son left the orphanage on Monday and was taken to the capital, Lilongwe, where Madonna and her entourage were staying in an upscale ranch.
Madonna has visited the orphanage at least once during her visit. Its director, Rev. Thompson John Chipeta, has refused to speak to the media.
Madonna arrived in Malawi Oct. 4 to visit her Raising Malawi project, which is setting up an orphan care center to provide food, education and shelter for up to 4,000 children. It will have projects based on Kabbalah, Judaism's mystical sect, which counts the 48-year-old singer among its devotees.
Madonna and Ritchie have a son, Rocco, 5, and the singer also has a daughter, Lourdes, 9.
Banda, a farm worker who lives in Lipunga, a village about 50 miles from the orphanage, said he had been told that David would make regular visits to Malawi.
"He will know his roots," Banda said.
The child's grandmother, Asinei Mwale, said she learned about the adoption from Chipeta.
"The director of the orphanage came here yesterday and told us that David has been adopted by a famous American singer," Mwale said. "I am very glad for him because having grown up as an orphan myself, I know how tough life can be."
Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world, with rampant disease and hunger, aggravated by periodic droughts and crop failure. Some 14 percent of its 12 million people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and an estimated 1 million children have been orphaned. In many villages, grandparents or older siblings struggle to feed orphans.
In an open letter to Madonna released Tuesday, the private Malawian child advocacy group Eye of the Child welcomed her concern for Malawian children, but questioned whether foreign adoptions were in the best interests of children.
Jackie Schoeman, executive director Cotlands, a South African organization that cares for children affected by HIV, said the first choice for orphans should be a place in a local family. In Africa, orphans usually are take in by their extended families, but AIDS has affected many of the people who might have traditionally provided support.
"If the only other option is for them to be in a long-term institutional then we would consider international adoption," Schoeman said. (source: AP)
09 October - Madonna's Malawi visit stokes hope, skepticism
Pop star Madonna's trip to Malawi has raised hopes of an improved life for thousands of needy orphans but also revived questions about the impact of Western altruism on the world's poorest continent.
Madonna has spent most of the past week visiting orphanages and meeting government officials and charity workers as part of a campaign to highlight the plight of some 900,000 orphans in this impoverished nation of 13 million people, where AIDS has destroyed many families.
Madonna has pledged to donate about $3 million to the campaign to help these children, spearheaded by the Raising Malawi charity.
She and an entourage, including her husband filmmaker Guy Ritchie, have been staying in an upscale lodge in the capital Lilongwe and traveling in SUVs brought into the landlocked country ahead of visit.
Security has been tight, with press kept away from the star.
In Gumulira, an arid village of 6,000 people near the border with Zambia, the local chief said residents were grateful for the attention as well as the new school built with funds from Raising Malawi, which has earmarked $1.5 million to the village.
"We have lost many parents here," said George Gumulira, who is named after the village. "The school was built to give opportunities to the children. We are hoping for an extension and we have been told that Madonna will visit."
Esau Emalasoni, a 10-year-old child in the village, echoes the importance of the project.
"My parents are no longer here, so the village takes care of me," Emalasoni said. "I work in the fields, but I also go to school now."
Despite the gratitude, questions persist about whether Madonna and other Westerners who work for charities in Africa will succeed in providing long-term solutions at the grass roots level to the continent's biggest problems, such as fighting AIDS and alleviating poverty.
Critics have suggested the rush of goodwill campaigns is part of a public relations push.
"Every PR person says 'Which country do you want to adopt?'," Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff said recently when asked about Africa's popularity among celebrities.
Others have questioned the stars' methods and motives.
Eyebrows were raised when it was revealed orphans at a care center funded by Raising Malawi would, as part of their studies, be taught a curriculum based on Spirituality for Kids, linked to the Kabbalah school of Jewish mysticism, of which Madonna is a follower.
"To me it's a phase they (celebrities) are going through. There's a lack of long-term commitment," said an aid worker in Lilongwe, who asked not to be identified. "Madonna will raise awareness internationally, but locally not much will happen."
The publicity surrounding Madonna's visit and rumors that she might have traveled to Malawi to adopt a child has also stoked unrealistic expectations among some children that they would be whisked away to a better life overseas.
Last week Malawi's independent Daily Times newspaper reported that a group of white visitors traveled two months ago to an orphanage supported by Madonna.
Mpheso Ngulube, 11, said she was told a famous, wealthy lady would take her to England, far from the village where her widowed mother supports her and six other children living in a one-room hut.
"They asked how I would feel about going to live in another country," she told the newspaper.
Mpheso's mother, Regina Chapotera, said living in a foreign country would be a great opportunity for her daughter but added that she hoped she would return home for holidays so that she could still see her. (source: Reuters)
09 October - Upcoming projects and releases
Madonna will be staying in Malawi till October 13th and will fly from there to New York, where she will promote her new childrens book The English Roses, Too Good To be True with a book signing and a few public appearances.
American TV network NBC is scheduled to broadcast the recording of the Confessions Tour in London, with the title "Confessions Tour - Live in UK" somewhere in November 2006. However, a series of complaints from religious conservatists have obliged NBC to discuss whether the disputed scene of the crucifixion should be included or not. Many conservative groups have now asked to pull the show completely. On the other hand, Madonna's camp is likely to reject any change or cut in the show and will rather pull the show completely. No decision has been made so far. Apparently the contract between NBC and Madonna allows both parties to get out of the deal if no compromise regarding the content is reached.
While Jump is starting to get picked up by many European radio stations (US fans, request the song on your local radio!), the single release date has been pushed back again. According to Amazon.com, the US will receive the single on November 7th, which is one day after the scheduled UK release date.
Even if the NBC special would get cancelled, we can probably expect the live DVD of the Confessions Tour to be released in time for the Christmas season. Unfortunately the release of the Re-Invention Tour seems to be put on hold at this moment...
There are contradicting rumours on other fansites concerning the release of a new album. While some say Madonna will soon go back to the studio to record a follow-up for Confessions On A Dance Floor, with a tentative 2007 release, others say she won't be releasing new music next year and will instead be concentrating on more books. The next few months will clarify Madonna's actual plans.
06 October - Madonna serenaded by Malawi's AIDS orphans
Madonna found herself in the audience when the AIDS orphans of Malawi performed a private concert for the visiting "Queen of Pop".
The US diva, who jetted into Malawi to inspect projects for children to which she has donated five million dollars (four-million-euro), was serenaded during a visit to the 128 residents of an orphanage outside the economic capital Blantyre.
Very much the star in an all-black ensemble with a zebra-stripe top, knee-high boots and dark glasses, she entered the centre under tight security. Reporters were not allowed to cover her visit.
The orphans welcomed the former "Material Girl", who was accompanied by her British filmmaker husband Guy Ritchie, with spiritual songs and the national anthem, the head of the orphanage said.
"She was happy to listen to our children sing," Annie Chikhwaza, founder and director of the centre, told reporters later.
Chikhwaza called Madonna, whose current avatar is linked to Kabbalah or the study of Jewish mysticism, a "wonderful lady and down to earth lovely person."
But Chikhwaza stressed that her orphanage had not received any funds from the pop star.
"Madonna has never given any finances to us at all .... We rely on gifts and donations," she said.
Madonna also distributed 28 copies of her children's book "The English Roses" which had been translated into Malawi's main language Chichewa under the title of "Flowers and Roses".
The star's trip, which began Wednesday, has clouded in secrecy with no itinerary published as Malawian authorities say she wants to keep it private.
There is also some confusion about the possible plans of the mother-of-two to adopt an African AIDS orphan.
"All indications are that she is looking for a boy and she will have to go and look around," Andrina Mchiela, principal secretary in Malawi's women and gender affairs ministry told AFP on Wednesday.
Mchiela added: "Madonna wants complete privacy on the adoption process... and we will need to respect that."
But the singer's publicist dismissed adoption reports swirling around the star as "completely inaccurate."
"She has not adopted a child," Madonna's publicist Liz Rosenberg said in a statement emailed to AFP.
"She went on a private visit to Malawi to participate in the building of an orphanage and several other initiatives that are all under the auspices of an organization called Raising Malawi."
The singer and actress is scheduled to meet a senior minister, Chimunthu Banda, for talks on Friday in the administrative capital Lilongwe.
In an interview with Time magazine in August, Madonna explained her new socially conscious persona.
"Now that I have children and now that I have what I consider to be a better perspective on life, I have felt responsible for the children of the world," Madonna has said.
"I've been doing bits and bobs about it and I suppose I was looking for a big, big project I could sink my teeth into," she said, referring to the project in Malawi. (source: AFP)
05 October - Jump Maxi-single release date delayed again
After already 2 delays, Amazon.com is now listing the American Maxi-single of Jump with an October 24th street date. This might seem to be bad news, keep in mind now that the video is out and airplay is growing, the single will have more exposure at its release date.
05 October - Madonna.com poll about Live To Tell performance
Madonna.com is holding a poll if Madonna's infamous performance of Live To Tell should be aired on NBC or not. Current results are 95%-5%, be sure to vote so the amazing performance could make it!
05 October - Madonna visits orphanage in Malawi
Madonna visited an orphanage in Malawi's commercial capital Thursday on the second day of a trip to highlight the plight of AIDS orphans, which prompted speculation she was about to adopt a child herself.
The pop star was greeted by about 50 children as she arrived in a four-vehicle convoy. Bodyguards prevented journalists from getting access to the premises or approaching her.
Madonna's publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said the star was on a private visit working on projects for children and dismissed statements from Malawian government officials that she had adopted a boy.
"Madonna has not adopted a baby boy as has been previously and incorrectly reported," Rosenberg said in an e-mail to The Associated Press in Los Angeles. "She is on a private visit to Malawi and is involved in the building of an orphanage/child care center as well as other initiatives to help the children of that country who have lost parents to AIDS.
"I have no information or confirmation regarding Madonna adopting an individual child. She's kind of adopting an entire country of children," Rosenberg said.
Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world, trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of hunger and disease. Just over 14 percent of the 12 million population is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and an estimated 1 million children have been orphaned.
Madonna's project, called Raising Malawi, aims to set up an orphan care center to provide food, education and shelter for up to 4,000 children. It will have projects based on Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism that has gained popularity in recent years and which counts the 48-year-old singer among its devotees.
The care center is based in Mphandula, a village about 30 miles from Lilongwe.
There had been reports that Madonna would visit Mphandula, as well as two orphanages in the commercial capital Blantyre. However, there was no sign of the star and organizers refused to give details of her itinerary.
Philippe van den Bossche, project coordinator for Raising Malawi, merely said he welcomed the visit to the southern African state by their patron.
"Any organization would be happy to know that they are being supported by such a beacon of hope. We are very grateful for the work she is doing in the country and for the project. She is an extraordinary inspiration and will hopefully inspire people to put children first," he said.
Van Den Bossche said the orphan care center would be completed in March, a year after work on it was started.
In villages like Mphandula, many orphans are cared for either by siblings or grandparents, who struggle to find food for the extended family. The village has no electricity and the inhabitants live in mud and thatched huts.
In a letter on the organization's Web site, Madonna said she hoped to help "bring an end to the extreme poverty and degradation suffered by Malawi's orphans."
The 48-year-old star joins a growing list of entertainers who have focused on Africa. (source: AP)
05 October - Jump cover and full video
Check out Google Video for the full version (3'29) of the Jump video. On the right you'll find a download link for the .asf file, as well as the supposed single cover (as portrayed here on the right).
05 October - Madonna adopts entire village, not a baby
Madonna was on the fast track to be a mother of three on Wednesday (October 4), when reports first surfaced from Africa that the singer had added a new child to her family from the southeastern.
African nation of Malawi. The singer was in the country to inspect a multimillion-dollar project she's funded to support AIDS orphans when government officials jumped the gun and incorrectly told reporters Madonna had another agenda - to adopt a child.
After she arrived early Wednesday in the capital city of Lilongwe, government officials told reporters Madonna chose the boy she adopted from a group of 12 children culled from four orphanages in the city. Andrina Mchiela - a top official in Malawi's Ministry for Gender and Child Welfare - told reporters Madonna had originally wanted to adopt a girl but changed her mind two weeks ago and asked to choose from a group of boys instead.
Director of Social Welfare Benston Kilimbe told reporters Madonna was expected to file the adoption papers on Thursday and would be required to stay with the child for 18 months before the papers would be finalized. Since Madonna was unable to stay in Malawi for that period, the government waived its ban on nonresident adoptions for the singer, and the child will be in the care of the Network of Organizations for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children.
However, Madonna's rep said the reports - from Reuters, The Associated Press and elsewhere - were erroneous. "Despite reports stating otherwise, she has not adopted a baby boy," the singer's longtime spokesperson, Liz Rosenberg, said Wednesday. "There is no paperwork being finalized. She is visiting orphanages and totally involved in the building of a new orphanage and other initiatives to help the children of Malawi whose parents have died from the AIDS epidemic. So she is adopting an entire country of children."
Madonna had already expressed a deep commitment to the region, which she first announced in an August story in Time magazine. In the article, she said she was committing $3 million to an initiative called Raising Malawi to help orphans in the country, which has been plagued by AIDS, malaria and drought (see "Madonna Promises Big Bucks To Help Aid Orphans In African Nation").
The orphan-care center, which aims to feed and educate 1,000 children a day, will be based in Mphandula, about 30 miles outside the Malawian capital of Lilongwe. The curriculum will include Kabbalah's Spirituality for Kids program (Michael Berg, founder of Los Angeles' Kabbalah Center, is co-founding Madonna's Raising Malawi initiative).
Many of the orphans who would go there have relatives in the area that would provide them shelter, so Madonna's also partnering with developing-world economic expert Jeffrey Sachs, who previously worked with Bono and Jolie, to improve the health, agriculture and economy of a nearby village. She's also met with Bill Clinton to see if they can bring low-cost medicine to the area.
"Now that I have children and now that I have what I consider to be a better perspective on life, I have felt responsible for the children of the world," Madonna told Time. "I suppose I was looking for a big, big project I could sink my teeth into."
The proceeds from Madonna's next book, "The English Roses: Too Good to Be True," due October 24, will also be donated to the Raising Malawi project. In support of the charity, her publishers will release a limited edition of the book in Chichewa, the official language of Malawi. Madonna will distribute the volumes throughout the country.
Madonna's also planning a documentary about the plight of children in Malawi.
"My intent is to bring attention to the millions of children in Africa who are dying every day and are living without care, without medicine and without hope," Madonna said in a recent statement. "I am asking people to open their hearts and minds to get involved in whatever way they can."
Madonna has two children of her own: 6-year-old son Rocco with husband Guy Ritchie and 9-year-old daughter Lourdes with former boyfriend/trainer Carlos Leon. Lourdes turns 10 on October 14. (source: VH1)
05 October - Liz denies adoption plans
A spokeswoman for Madonna on Wednesday denied claims by officials in the African nation of Malawi that the pop star had adopted a one-year-old orphan boy there.
Spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg called the report "completely inaccurate" but said Madonna was not bothered by it because it would draw attention to the problems of children in the impoverished African nation.
Rosenberg, said Madonna was visiting orphanages in Malawi this week as part of a charitable program to provide care for an estimated 1 million children who are without parents in the southern African nation, many of them suffering from AIDS.
"She has not adopted a child," Rosenberg told Reuters. "She went on a private visit to Malawi ... to participate in the building of an orphanage and several other initiatives that are all under the auspices of an organization called Raising Malawi."
Rosenberg said there was no truth to statements from the Malawian government that Madonna had chosen to adopt a year-old boy from among 12 children specially selected prior to her arrival in the capital city of Lilongwe on Wednesday.
"She asked us to identify boys only, which we have done after visiting four orphanages in Lilongwe," government spokeswoman Adrina Michiela said, adding that Madonna had wanted to adopt a girl but changed her mind two weeks ago.
"None of that is accurate," said Rosenberg, who acts as Madonna's chief spokeswoman at her Warner Records music label.
Malawian officials were not immediately available for comment on the denial by Madonna.
Asked whether the 48-year-old star, already a mother of two children with her husband, British filmmaker Guy Richie, was making adoption plans or contemplating adopting a child in the future, Rosenberg said, "I have no idea."
Rosenberg said she had spoken to Madonna directly since the adoption story broke and that the singer was not angry about the situation.
"I think that anything that brings attention to the country is fine with her, even if it's information that's not correct," the publicist said. "She wants people to pay attention to Malawi and to the 1 million children who don't have parents and don't have care there."
Madonna's trip has stoked high expectations in Malawi, a nation of 13 million people who are dependent on tobacco exports. According to the Raising Malawi Web site (www.raisingmalawi.org), at least 1 million children are orphans in Malawi and about 30 percent of them have AIDS.
Madonna has said she plans to spend at least $3 million on programs to support orphans in Malawi and another $1 million to fund a documentary about the plight of children in the country.
She traveled to Mphandula, a village 12.5 miles outside Lilongwe, where she is funding the construction of the Raising Malawi center to feed and educate about 1,000 orphans. (source: Reuters)
04 October - Jump video preview
While we're waiting for the full vresion to premiere, we've received a preview of the video for Madonna's latest single Jump. The video was filmed in Tokyo during the Japanese leg of the Confessions Tour in Tokyo. While we see Madonna's dancers jumping and running all over Tokyo, Madonna is only seen inside a studio, surrounded by flashy neon signs, typical for the Japanese capital. She's sporting the platinum blond wig and wearing a black fighting jacket. She doesn't dance or jump much in the movie but limits herself to some fighting kicks and moves. You can see the one-minute review on YouTube.
04 October - Madonna, in Malawi, plans to adopt child
Madonna arrived in Malawi on Wednesday on a humanitarian mission to help orphans and the underprivileged in the impoverished southern African nation.
The pop star and an entourage of 10 people landed on a private plane in the capital, Lilongwe, just after 9 a.m. The visit had not been announced.
Andrina Mchiela, secretary to the minister for gender and child welfare, said Madonna planned to adopt a Malawian child during her visit.
She is also meant to fund six projects to benefit underprivileged children, including setting up an orphanage.
Madonna earlier this year announced plans to raise at least $3 million for programs to support the nearly 1 million children in Malawi who have lost parents to AIDS. Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world, hit by years of drought as well as an AIDS epidemic.