Malawian officials are hung up over Madonna's supposed diva demands.
The pop star has come under fire by government bigwigs for purportedly pushing for VIP treatment during her recent visit to the country amid escalating tensions between the singer and local officials after she pulled back on plans to build a multimillion dollar academy for girls.
The situation—which officials alluded to as "blackmail"—came to a head after Madonna and her entourage were reportedly denied expedited traveling privileges at the airport and were required to queue up alongside other passengers and frisked, per published reports.
"Granted, Madonna is a famed international musician," Malawi President Joyce Banda's office said in a statement. "But that does not impose an injunction of obligation on any government under whose territory Madonna finds herself, including Malawi, to give her state treatment. Such treatment, even if she deserved it, is discretionary not obligatory."
The statement added: "Kindness, as far as its ordinary meaning is concerned, is free and anonymous. If it can't be free and silent, it is not kindness; it is something else. Blackmail is the closest it becomes."
An unnamed aviation official was quoted as saying that the airport had received "a directive" that Madonna and her entourage—which included her four children, Lourdes, Rocco, David and Mercy—were asked to pass through "the ordinary passenger terminal on their way to their jet."
The 54-year-old pop star, however, refutes allegations that she made VIP demands.
"I was very happy to visit with the children of Malawi earlier this month and to see with my own eyes the ten new primary schools in Kasungu province that Raising Malawi and buildOn completed this past year," she said in a statement. "These schools are now educating more than 4,800 children with girls attending in equal numbers. These children who were formally learning outside on the ground, in unsafe buildings or not at all, now get to attend classes on a daily basis. My children and I were overjoyed to visit these schools and see what amazing progress has been made. I will continue to follow through on my commitment to help educate the children of Malawi."
Madonna added, "I'm saddened that Malawi's President Joyce Band Malawian has chosen to release lies about what we've accomplished, my intentions, how I personally conducted myself while visiting Malawi and other untruths. I have no intentions of being distracted by these ridiculous allegations. I came to Malawi seven years ago with honorable intentions. I returned this month to view the new schools we built."
She concluded by saying, "I did not ever ask or demand special treatment at the airport or elsewhere during my visit. I will not be distracted or discouraged by other people's political agendas. I made a promise to the children of Malawi and I am keeping that promise."
The singer had initially pledged to build a multimillion-dollar school for girls in the southeast African nation, but government officials later accused her of backpedaling on that promise, choosing instead to merely build what they described as "classrooms at existing schools."
A representative from Madonna's charity, Raising Malawi, subsequently defended the pop star, saying that the foundation had reportedly pumped $400,000 into building 10 school blocks, providing a productive learning environment to 4,000 children.