Sunday, March 18, 2007

Madonna, David Banda, Malawi - Poem about Political Correctness

Madonna, David Banda, Malawi - Poem about Political Correctness


It is in Africa,
Madonna has been there, but I
Was not invited.
For me, it is a part of Africa
Which I cannot place on the map.
Went there to get an orphaned child,
David Banda,
Mother dead,
Father indigent.
The outcome was fallout,
All negative.
Rich white woman with a country house in England
Cherry-picking choice black genes
From an orphanage lineup.
Not politically correct.
Politically correct would be
To make the ritual noises,
To do the standard hand-wringing,
And then do nothing.
I, regarding Malawi,
Have certainly done nothing,
Not even clicking it to ground
On Wikipedia.
My dead tree almanac
Would answer, if I asked,
The many questions that nobody ever asks.
Certainly never me.
If quiz show accident cued me to the facts,
I'd lack the talent or the time
(One or both)
To gaud them to my poetry.
Sight unseen, the data unresearched,
I'd guess that Malawi belongs
To the majority nations where most of life gets by
On two bucks a day or less.
And how can I make poetry out of that?
Is not central to my aesthetic.
My omphalos
Is a closer source of thought.
In the world of diatribe,
We must attend to the uniqueness
Of each and every portion of the planet.
But I give up.
In the state of Bihar,
North in the north of India,
I got on the train and got off
In a different language.
Immune to the magic of my fragments
Of phrasebook Hindi.
India is not a nation but a world,
A world that I will never plan to master,
And could not master even if I tried.
India is a diamond with facets
Far too many for me to chemograph.
But at least I've been there.
Malawi, by contrast,
Lies in the void of the unvisited beyond,
The oubliette of the Great Unknown
Where your hemorrhoids,
The missing pieces of the jigsaw set
And the cinders of the star which shone on Bethlehem,
All coexist in one big limbo nowhere.
I will do nothing
To compromise the survival of Malawi,
But to intervene,
I'll leave that to Madonna,
The backfire from her decision to contribute
That no good deed goes unpunished.

Footnote #1: The phrases "India is not a nation but a world" and "No good deed goes unpunished" are part of my culture's collective wisdom, and are not original to the poet.

Footnote #2: I, personally, in the course of the last ten years, have given precisely five American dollars to a worthy cause, and that five dollars cost me nothing. The outfit from which I buy domain names,, e-mailed saying they would kick in five bucks for charity if I would take what they billed as a "less than one minute" survey on how customers would like to pay (eg in Canadian dollars, and would PayPal be nice?) I took the survey, which, as advertised, required less than sixty seconds, and at the end I had a choice between a human-friendly charity, something for animals or one of the environment's defenders. I took the human option and sent my five dollars in the direction of UNICEF, after first clarifying my UNICEF concept with a Google check.

Footnote #3: As of 2007 March 17, a Google News search for "David Banda" got "about 89" hits, with the Google snippet for the top one being "Madonna Nanny loses publishing deal Irish Examiner, Ireland - 5 hours ago
... for the Material Girl and her husband Guy Ritchie from 2005-2006, which included their controversial adoption of Malawian baby David Banda in October. ... Former Madonna Nanny Pitching Tell-All Memoir Bosh".

The second snippet is from something called THE TIDE, based in Nigeria, at last an African country I can place on the map, on the west coast and about half way down. Clicking on the link got a "service unavailable" response, which confirmed my stereotype regarding Africa and Internet access.

The Google snippet for the temporarily inaccessible article ends with the words "But Madona [sic: this is what I copied and pasted, and, when my spellchecker protested, I went back and checked, and, yep, that's what was on the screen. I feel that this is not doing anything to cure me of my stereotype.] told the authorities that her application were fast tracked and stated that she adopted the 13-month Malawian David Banda, so he “could escape ..."

Escape what? Presumably not Japanese whale hunters.

Whoops! Next snippet down indicates that Madonna was seen with the kid (now 17 months old) ... well, see what the snippet says:

"The 'Hung Up' singer was pictured on March 2 in her Escalade ESV holding 17-month-old David on her lap. There was no child seat in the vehicle which is ..."

I confess that, while Japanese law mandates compulsory child seats, back in the days when we were transporting our daughter in my mother-in-law's vehicle ("back in the days" because the mother-in-law now drives no further than the local shops) there was no car seat in the vehicle.

The last snippet is tagged as being sourced as follows:

" (Pressemitteilung), Austria - Mar 9, 2007"

This poem is part of an ongoing project, the GENGHIS LOTUS POETRY COLLECTION, already online in partial form at, and tentatively scheduled for publication as a paperback book round about November 2007 (or earlier, if I can get A into gear).


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