April 17, 2007 / 12:21 AM / 12 years ago

Fracas mars Madonna's Malawi visit

MCHINJI, Malawi (Reuters) - Schoolchildren pelted reporters’ cars with stones to keep them away from Madonna on Tuesday as the pop star visited the orphanage where the Malawian boy she is adopting once lived.

Madonna carries her adopted son David at the Home of Hope orphanage in Mchinji village, 84 miles west of the capital Lilongwe April 17,2007. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The U.S. star, wearing an African-style wraparound skirt and knee-high leather boots, eventually calmed the fracas at the Home of Hope orphanage by inviting journalists inside, where she posed for photographers clutching one-year-old David Banda.

Witnesses said they saw David’s biological father Yohane Banda, who has complained he struggles to get information about his son, and David together while Madonna chatted separately to children at the orphanage, where the boy was placed after his mother died.

“It feels great,” Madonna, 48, told reporters, when asked how she felt to be back in Malawi. She sparked controversy and a media frenzy during her first visit to the poor southern African nation last year with her plans to adopt the boy.

The star, who was greeted by a group of singing orphans, said she did not know whether David had spent time with his biological father during the visit.


Earlier, Malawi police and stone-throwing school students blocked journalists from covering Madonna’s visit.

Teenagers in black and yellow uniforms from the secondary school in Mchinji hurled stones at journalists’ cars and formed a protective ring around the building, and police stopped reporters from following the convoy into the compound.

“We are under instruction from the orphanage not to allow any press to go in because it is a private visit,” a police official at the scene said.

The director of the orphanage on Monday vowed security during the visit would be tight and that Madonna’s camp had requested the media be kept out.

Madonna eventually invited journalists into the orphanage where she answered a few questions and posed for photographs with David Banda and her daughter Lourdes.

Since the pop diva arrived in Malawi on Monday, accompanied by David, Lourdes and her film director husband Guy Ritchie, Madonna has been trailed by a pack of journalists.

Madonna’s spokeswoman has denied media reports she plans to adopt a second Malawian child.

Madonna is paying for a new clinic to be built in the Malawian village of Gumulira and is supporting efforts by aid groups to help improve food security and education there.

The visit comes some six months after the couple signed interim adoption papers for Banda, who will stay with Madonna and Ritchie for 18 months before a decision is made by the Malawian government on whether to finalize the adoption.

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