Granny of Madonna’s daughter bitter for being denied access to her granddaughter; wonders if she will be able to see Mercy again.
IT never rains but pours for superstar Madonna.
Having roughed up feathers with Malawian authorities over her school project almost four weeks ago, the pop diva is at it again. Only that this time it is the grandmother of the daughter she adopted who has raised her voice of despair over her frustrations over not being able to see her granddaughter.
Grandmother of Mercy, the girl that Pop star Madonna adopted in Malawi’s Chiradzulu district is bitter and fed up of her being blocked from having a ‘physical glance’ at her biological grandchild.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Times while seated on the veranda of her grass-thatched mud house at Thondwe in Blantyre, seventy-one-year-old Lucy Chekechiwa said most of the times she blends tears with prayers that, ‘just once, I should physically see or touch the little girl’.
“It is sad that I am completely cut off from any access or visual glance of Mercy [James] my grandchild. I am not saying she should come back to us to stay, no, but that just for once, before I die, I should set my eyes on her so that my spirit is rejuvenated… Should I really die without seeing her? Oh God!” exclaimed the old lady, her face showing all traces of depression and dejection.
To the family the process of adoption – despite having gone through the courts and having their blessing through affidavits they swore – is still a jig-saw puzzle.
“It is a fact that during that process Madonna promised to allow the granny and family to see the girl at some intervals. What we wonder is that each time Madonna comes to Malawi, that obligation is not honoured and the government officials [Social Welfare officers] who we believe are supposed to protect our interests, don’t care to link us with the Pop Star icon to the extent that we just hear from people or radio that she has been in the country, just like it were with her recent visit,” said Peter Barnet – uncle to Mercy, who is the family’s appointed spokesperson.
Barnett said the family was so irked with failure to honour the obligation that was made openly and seemingly in good faith by Madonna during the court process of adoption; hence resolved to seek intervention of Legal Aid lawyers.
“Immediately we heard Mercy had been in Malawi again and we were not informed that we have access to her, I travelled to Blantyre to seek direction from the Legal Aid. Our feeling is that Madonna may not really to blame because she always makes sure she comes to Malawi; but, the Social Welfare officials don’t play their part of linking her to us as we were made to believe during the adoption process,” said Barnett, stressing being illiterate him and the old grandmother depended on government to protect their rights and interests.
The two understands that the adoption could be in the best interests of Mercy and maybe, by divine intervention, the family. However they stress that, being Malawian and African, family bonds were very crucial hence their plea for periodical access to Mercy.
“What I don’t understand is that those people from government, who were nodding to the promise of our being allowed to see Mercy even briefly, now have abandoned us. During the process of adoption, when we were reluctant to allow Madonna to adopt Mercy, these people were regular visitors coaxing us to ascent the process, now they are not longer there but acting behind the scenes to block us from her,” said the old lady, shedding tears.
One of the Social Welfare officers mentioned by Barnett to be an active player in the process, Simon William Chisale however parried allegations of their blocking the family to access or ‘just see’ Mercy James.
“This issue is a complicated one; I cannot talk much on this even though I was indeed part of the process. When Madonna comes, she does not inform the Ministry and we equally hear of such visits through the media,” he said in an interview on Saturday.
He, however, admitted that Madonna had intimated she would be allowing the granny [family] brief access to the child bearing in mind she has projects in Malawi and would on intervals visit the country.
“Of course, according to the Act of Adoption, we don’t have powers to force those who adopt children to access them to their biological families. Of course the law accommodates such access (visitation) but that cannot be done by force …Madonna on her own made a commitment but we cannot enforce it…what the law provides for is that there must be an assurance that children who are adopted access good education, are well cared for and looked after,” said Chiseled, also admitting Barnett had contacted him with concerns of breach of obligation.
“He even said he would go to court on the same,” he said.
Mercy’s mother, Mwandida Maunde, died two days after giving birth to Mercy; and, chocked by challenges of caring for the infant the family was forced to place her at an orphanage care.