Monday, October 11, 2010

Madonna and Child

"Finally, she came. A fleet of new 4x4s swept on to the bare earth and out she stepped with Lourdes, her eldest. They were ushered up the dais stairs and sat down. After some massed dances of welcome, the speeches began. The Minister for Education gushed that ‘in future every girl born in Malawi will be Madonna’s child’. This and other such statements made us cynical local hacks look at each other and blink. Someone near the microphone made a valiant effort to render the stream of platitudes into Chewa, but it took too long and was soon abandoned.

The sweating, patient crowd looked on uncomprehendingly from a distance. On the far side the schoolchildren looked uncomfortably hot and stupefied with boredom. I wished with all my heart that someone, Madonna preferably, would stand up and crack a good and easily translatable joke. Or that she would totter across the bare African earth on her high heels and offer her hands. Or better still grab the mike and sing Like a Virgin."

The Spectator, 2 October, 2010

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