Madonna remembers how she fought to adopt daughter

Madonna and Mercy

Eight years ago, Madonna went up against Malawi’s highest court to win the right to adopt then-four-year-old Mercy James.

Fast forward to today, the songstress opened the country’s first-ever pediatric surgery and intensive care center, which she named The Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, after her now-11-year-old daughter.

At the opening ceremony on Tuesday, Madonna recalled the emotional three-and-a-half year journey she went through to call Mercy her own after she had successfully adopted son David Banda in 2006.

“I met Mercy soon after I met my son David, but they were living in different orphanages. David was in Mchinji in Home of Hope, and Mercy was here in Blantyre at Kondanani. Mercy was suffering from malaria, and David from pneumonia. And when I held each of them in my arms, I whispered in their ears, that I would look after them. And I promised them that they would grow up into strong and healthy adults,” Madonna told the audience at the Queen Central Hospital.

I was granted permission to adopt David first. And some time later, I filed a petition to adopt Mercy. But this time, the judge who was presiding said no. I was recently divorced, and she informed me, as a divorced woman, I was not fit to raise children and that Mercy James was better off growing up in an orphanage,” the seven-time Grammy winner continued.

The adoption raised strong public reaction because Malawian law requires would-be parents to reside in Malawi for one year before adopting, which Madonna did not do. In addition, she was in the process of legally separating from second husband Guy Ritchie, citing irreconcilable differences. Mercy was placed at Children’s Village following the death of her teenage mother.

“If you know me, you can imagine how I received this information. It’s true, I am a freedom fighter. I am a feminist. I am a rebel heart. But I am also a compassionate and intelligent human being. And if you cannot give me a logical reason for the word ‘no,’ then I will not accept the word ‘no.’ I hired a team of lawyers, and I took my case to the supreme court, and it was not an easy battle,” Madonna said in her moving speech.

“The adoption laws in Malawi had not been reformed since the early ’40s, and it had not occurred to anyone to change them yet. So my argument was that women have been raising children for centuries, on their own … not to mention the fact that I was doing just fine raising my own three children,” she said.

David’s adoption had been rushed through because a court had granted an interim order, but Madonna faced more judicial pushback in Mercy’s case.

“I never gave up. And I never backed down. And I believe that if you want something badly enough in life, the universe will conspire to help you get it. It may not be exactly when you want it, it may not come exactly when you think it’s gonna come. It may not come in the package that you want it. But if you persevere, you will win,” the entertainer emphasized.

Concluding, “I fought for Mercy, and I won. It wasn’t easy. And with the blood, sweat, and tears of so many people here today, we fought for this hospital—and we won. So I’m here to say: never, ever give up on your dreams. Never stop fighting for what you believe in. And finally: Love conquers all.”

All of Madonna’s six children, except daughter Lourdes, were at Tuesday’s ceremony. David Banda danced with kids from the Jacaranda School for Orphans, Rocco painted a mural in the hospital and Mercy James gave a speech, calling her mom “the bomb” — and then dabbed at the end.

The Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care at the Queen Central Hospital was funded by Madonna’s charity, Raising Malawi, which she founded in 2006.

Madonna said the center has been up and running since the end of June, and the first surgery was completed last week, nearly two years after construction began on the center in 2015. The facility includes three operating rooms for children’s surgery, as well as a day clinic and a ward with 45 beds.

Culled from Yahoo!

Nigerian artiste, Fakia Lafarge wants to be Nigeria’s music ambassador in South Africa

A young, talented Nigerian artiste, “Fakia Lafarge’’, currently based in South Africa is making waves in the music scene.

Born Ifeanyi Nwadiulu, the hip hop artiste, said he was working hard to break into the South African music scene where his brand of music was accepted.

“My kind of music is hip hop, afro-pop and hip life. I have recorded 20 songs in four Compact Discs (CDs) and I have more in the making. In South Africa, my music is accepted. I have been invited to perform in different shows and the fans appreciate me on stage,’’ Fakia Lafarge said.

The native of Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra hinted that his ambition was to break into the South African music scene and be Nigeria’s music ambassador in that country.

“I do original music by creating my own trend. I want to create music similar to great Nigerians like Fela, King Sunny Ade, Ebenezar Obey and Chief Osita Osadebe. If you listen to their music, you will see a big difference. Their music is original. When you listen to their songs, the lyrics carry messages that are everlasting. My ambition is to create their kind of music,’’ he added.

He urged Nigerians resident in South Africa to promote his music by inviting him to perform at their events and occasions and also advised young Nigerian artistes to avoid copying works done by others.

“Be original because it will speak for you. When you copy, people will tag you with it and it does not speak well for a young musician,’’ he stated.

He made his debut in the music scene in 2009 when he released his first single titled “Fakia Lowa’’ in Nigeria.

“That single transformed my name stage name from “Genius CP’’ to Fakia Large because of the popularity of its video,” he explained.

Budgets officer describes Nigerian tourism potentials under tapped

By News Desk, with Agency report

The Director-General, Budget Office of Federation, Ben Akabueze, has said that tourism is capable of creating job opportunities and driving short-term growth and longer-term structural change.

He hinted that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) recognised that rich bio-diversity in Nigeria’s ecosystem, her cultural diversity, historical cities and arts and craft wereyet to be fully tapped.

At the 20th Annual General Meeting and Election of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria, Akabueze made a presentation with a title: “Financing as a Catalyst to Sustainable Tourism Development”, and noted that the tourism was recognised in the ERGP as one of the ingredients needed to achieve economic growth.

“By addressing under-developed infrastructure, security challenges, lack of attractive options for vacationing at home, and insufficient investment, the sector is expected to contribute to government revenues and foreign exchange earnings,’’ Akabueze said.

According to him, the objectives of the policy was to enhance contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), increase numbers of visitors to Nigeria by 10 per cent annually from 2017 and increase volume of domestic tourism.

“It is also to promote and encourage patronage of local agricultural, creative industry and manufactured products by operators in the industry and strengthen backward and forward linkages and conserve foreign exchange,” The former Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget added.

Akabueze further said that the strategic activities to ensure the realisation of the objectives include infrastructure connectivity to promote tourism.

He said policies and strategies to support the sector as well as investment in physical, security infrastructure and skills developments were required.

“Promote national calendar of festivals and events in short term and develop value proposition around major clusters, launch awareness campaign to promote tourism and ease visa requirement to increase tourist arrivals.

“Improve security to encourage domestic and international mobility and review tourism legislation and eliminate overlapping functions among regulating agencies,’’ he said.

The budget office head, who was represented by Technical Assistant, Olayinka Babalola, disclosed that the sector’s contribution to employment was relatively closer to the world average but significantly higher than the SSA average.

Akabueze gave a comparative analysis on main trends in the tourism sector in Africa and emphasised that tourism’s contribution to 2016 GDP in Nigeria was less than half the world average but significantly higher than the Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) average.

“Visitors export (spending within a country by international tourists for leisure and business travel) in Nigeria is low, close to the SSA average. However, travel and tourism investment in Nigeria in 2016 was higher than the world average, close to the values for South Africa and Egypt and much higher than the SSA average,” he said.

He stressed that there were challenges that made it difficult for the sector to achieve the desired results. He, however, maintained that there was the need to finance tourism destinations, adding that investment had to be made.

“Airports, seaports, rail and roads need to be developed through financing; we also need to finance good quality hotel and security infrastructure.’”

Akabueze reiterated that the tourism industry was a small segment of service sector but had the potential for job creation, expanding foreign exchange earnings and national output.

 

 

Invisible borders: Uniting Nigeria, world through photography

By Ada Dike

Invisible Borders, also known as Trans-African Photographic Initiative, has continued to soar higher as its team has continued to make positive progress in their journey to different part of the world.

The artists have been doing some fantastic adventure since its inception, though faced with different challenges. They are rugged and determined to go trips in different countries connecting the world using photography.

For 46 days in 2016, Invisible Borders travelled across Nigeria photographing and writing on the road. The aim, according to them, was: To map diversity across regions, states and ethnic formations in post-colonial Nigeria. These artists, through images and writing, interrogated both the elusive and apparent borders within the country years after the amalgamation of its Northern and Southern Protectorates.

A peep into Nigeria’s history shows that it has more than 200 distinct tribes.

“Nigeria is an entity with multiple histories haunted by British artificial constructs. But now, in a period of intense economic recession, political instability, violence, corruption and an unfettered health crisis, is there a distance between what is shared and what is privately owned?” Invisible Borders’ leadership queired.

In 2017, the artists embarked on a remarkable journey, taking another route across the country. They said there would be an attempt to complete the important work begun in the previous year. “We seek to draw a map that is at once historical and contemporary, while elucidating the ambiguities of what it means to be Nigerian.”

Invisible Borders invites African artists from Africa and Diaspora to apply to participate in the second edition of the Borders Within Road Trip.

“Since 2009 Invisible Borders has been promoting Trans-African exchange across countries in Africa through various artistic interventions, most prominent of which is the Trans-African Road Trips. T

“Join us! We are currently seeking volunteers who would work with us in furthering the aims of the Invisible Borders Trans-African Organisation, we are on the lookout for individuals who are passionate about what we do and would like to become part of this experience,” the group said in a statement made available to The Guild.

“The Invisible Borders Trans-African Organisation is run by passionate artists with an unflinching belief in the ideals of the project. The task of keeping the organisation running on a daily basis is challenging. The workload of the organisation is increasing daily as we become more proactive and ambitious. But most importantly, it’s our way of building a community of artists and art administrators alike who in working together, sustains a continuous production of new thoughts and knowledge.”

Award

The Invisible Borders, is a laureate of the 2014 Prince Claus Award – a prestigious award that honours outstanding achievements in the arts.

This was revealed in a statement made available to The Guild by Invisible Borders Trans-African Project’s Artistic Director, Emeka Okereke.

“We are super delighted to share this good news with you, especially as this also comes with substantial rewards,” he said.
“Times like this, we look back at how this whole journey began. Today would not have been possible without the input of so many wonderful individuals. We want to extend our thanks to the following people for their priceless contributions over the years on several fronts: Amaize Ojeikere, Uche Okpa-Iroha, Uche James Iroha, Lucie Touya, Jude Anogwih, Fariba Derakhshani, Ambassador Paul Lolo, Kabir Aregbesola, Aida Muluneh and many more.”
He further sent special thanks to their ever-daring members, volunteers and administrators such as Akinbode Akinbiyi, Jumoke Sanwo, Emmanuel Iduma, Robin Riskin, Yeehui Tan, Corinne Appadoo, Marina Reina Guindo and Ogunbela Oluwaseun.

“These individuals are the brave ones who generously offer their time and brilliance to the running of the organisation especially, in the preparation of the on-going 5th edition of the road trip as well as the exhibition set to open in Amsterdam.”
“Through its annual Prince Claus Awards, the Fund honours eleven outstanding artists, thinkers and organisations whose cultural and artistic actions have had a positive impact on their countries’ development. They are often role models and are an important source of inspiration for all those around them.”

On 10 December 2014, Constantijn presented the Principal Prince Claus Award to Abel Rodríguez, artist, plant expert and community elder from the Amazon Basin in Colombia. Ten additional artists and cultural role models are also honoured for their pioneering work in culture and development.

The ten additional Prince Claus Laureates are: Tran Luong (performance and visual artist and independent curator, Vietnam); SPARROW (Sound & Picture Archives for Research on Women, India); Museo Itinerante de Arte por la Memoria (interdisciplinary collective, Peru); Gülsün Karamustafa (visual artist, Turkey); Ignacio Agüero (independent documentary filmmaker, Chile); Rosina Cazali (independent curator and writer, Guatemala); Lia Rodrigues (dancer and choreographer, Brazil); Lav Diaz (filmmaker, Philippines), FX Harsono (visual artist, Indonesia); and Invisible Borders (Trans-African Project, Nigeria).

 

 

Woman in coma after breaking £34,000 bracelet in China

There was a pandemonium in China when a tourist was reported to have fainted after accidentally breaking a jade bracelet worth 300,000 yuan (£34,000).

She visited a jade market in Ruili City, south western China’s Yunnan province yesterday when she accidentally dropped a bracelet while trying it on.

Unfortunately for the woman, the jade bracelet snapped in half.

Following the smash, the shop’s owner told her that the bracelet was worth 300,000 yuan (£34,000).

According to reports, she was reportedly so shocked that she passed out and had to be placed on the ground by family members in order to recover.

Witnesses, the family offered the seller 70,000 yuan (£8,000) in damages however he refused saying that was not enough for them to break even.

The bracelet was valued by an independent expert to cost around 180,000 yuan (£20,700). The family agreed to pay the owner this sum of money.