Malawi moves villagers for Madonna school

2010-02-11 15:15

Malawian officials said today that they have moved scores of

villagers from land where US pop diva Madonna plans to build a girls

academy.

“The district commissioner for Lilongwe told the villagers to move

off the land and (make) way for the construction of the academy because it was

government land reserved for development projects,” an official from the

commissioner’s office told AFP by telephone.

The official, who did not want to be named, said district

commissioner Charles Kalemba told the nearly 200 villagers that they were lucky

to have been “compensated for the houses, gardens and fruit trees.”

Kalemba, accompanied by officials from the government department of

lands and Madonna’s charity Raising Malawi, visited the site on the outskirts of

the administrative capital Lilongwe yesterday.

The villagers had threatened to block the project unless they got

more cash after being paid 500,000 dollars in compensation by Madonna’s

charity.

Madonna broke ground last year for the construction of the Raising

Malawi Girls Academy which will provide education to impoverished

children.

Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo, a top official for the charity, said the

villagers had been given “generous compensation” and had no reason to

complain.

The official said a local chief, Binson Chinkhota, told the

villagers to “accept the reality as there is nothing we can do.”

The villagers have been relocated to other villages.

The academy, expected to be completed in two years, will enroll 500

girls from poor backgrounds.

Madonna, whose charity sponsors orphanages and other children’s

projects, has adopted two children from Malawi, where AIDS has devastated many

families.


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