Memsahib’s Diary: Joyce Banda can teach our VVIPs humility

Memsahib's Diary: Joyce Banda can teach our VVIPs humilityIf I could vote here in India – but I can’t… yes, I know, I know, I’ve moaned about this already in this diary. All that Boston tea party ‘no taxation without representation’ stuff.

Anyway, indulge me for a moment, if you will.

If I could vote (but I can’t) I would vote for Joyce Banda to be the next President, PM, Head Honcho, whatever of India.

“Joyce who?” did I hear you ask?

That would be Joyce Banda, the President of the tiny African country of Malawi, who this week took a right royal swipe at Madonna, blasting her out of the water for her alleged VIP tantrums.

Joyce, please, please, come here to India and give all our demanding VIPS the same treatment. Please.

So there was Madonna, who has – it is true and all credit to her – adopted two children from Malawi. Adoption is a fabulous thing, it is wonderful of her to have given two children a home and a family — though I do remember something about her first Malawian child actually already having a family. But that’s not Madonna’s fault.

Anyway, Madonna was just on a visit to Malawi and, if we believe the Malawians, acted like a bit of a brat. Almost like a bit of a certain kind of dilliwala. You know the old, “Do you know who I am… Do you know who my father is” mantra? Well, apparently Madonna did her version of our very own “tumhe mai kaun hu pata hai?”

In Madonna’s case, or so we are told, she was miffed that she wasn’t treated like the VIP she feels she should be, in this poor African country. Apparently, oh horror of horrors, she actually had to stand in line and check in at Lilongwe airport. Now that’s something our VIPs don’t have to do, so poor Madonna could possibly learn a thing or two from India.

President Banda is scathing. Excoriating in fact. Let Joyce speak for herself here. She does it so well, there is no need of paraphrase:

“Claims and misgivings have been expressed by Pop Star, Madonna… against the Malawi Government… for not giving her the attention and courtesy that she thinks she merits and deserves during her recent trip to Malawi.

“According to the claims, Madonna feels that the Malawi Government and its leadership should have abandoned everything and attended to her because she believes she is a music star turned benefactor who is doing Malawi good.

Besides, in the feeling of Madonna, the Malawi Government and its leadership should have rolled out a red carpet and blast the 21-gun salute in her honour because she believes that as a musician, the whiff of whose repute flies across international boundaries, she automatically is candidate for VVIP treatment.”

Ouch, Joyce, those are harsh words. But can you for one hallucinatory moment ever, in your wildest dreams, imagine anyone here saying something like this?


Joyce does not let the matter rest there, far from it. She has a further go at Madonna about her manners and her musical prowess, in one fabulously phrased put-down:

“For her to accuse Mrs. Oponyo for indiscretions that have clearly arisen from her personal frustrations that her ego has not been massaged by the State is uncouth, and speaks volumes of a musician who desperately thinks she must generate recognition by bullying State officials instead of playing decent music on the stage.”

Ouch Joyce mark II.

But the bit that I found the most relevant and applicable for we lowly mango people here in India – the words that really hit home in our desi VVIP-obsessed culture… clearly I am day-dreaming here, folks, but just indulge me, won’t you? So, yes, the bits of the speech that are most applicable to our situation here? Just listen to President Banda, who, whilst applauding Madonna for having adopted two children, went on to say:

“Granted, Madonna has adopted two children from Malawi. According to the record, this gesture was humanitarian and of her accord. It, therefore, comes across as strange and depressing that for a humanitarian act, prompted only by her, Madonna wants Malawi to be forever chained to the obligation of gratitude. Kindness, as far as its ordinary meaning is concerned, is free and anonymous. If it can’t be free and silent, it is not kindness; it is something else. Blackmail is the closest it becomes.”

Joyce, you are the true rock star here. Telling it as it is.

Now let’s just take a look at our Indian scenario. We are not talking about adoption, obviously, but let me extend the analogy a little.

Here in India, you decide to become a politician, for instance, and you are set for life. In certain cases, your children, their children, your in-laws – the whole gang of them is set for life. We are all supposed to have eternal gratitude to people for having decided to become our political leaders. We mark their death anniversaries, their birth anniversaries, their ‘martyrdom’ days, and to show our eternal gratitude, we house them, we pay them, we guard their families, and, of course, we give them all the VIP treatment.

And they never have to queue at airports.

Where is our Joyce Banda when we need her?

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are the author's personal opinions. Information, facts or opinions shared by the Author do not reflect the views of Niti Central and Niti Central is not responsible or liable for the same. The Author is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.


Christine Pemberton

Delhi-based travel & lifestyle writer, photographer, blogger.