The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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From malaria to Madonna

London, Oct. 15 (Reuters): The father of the Malawian child pop star Madonna wants to adopt has said he had not originally planned to give up his son for good when he handed him to an orphanage after the death of his wife last year.

Yohane Banda told a British newspaper he put his son David in an orphanage when he was just over one month old, fearing that he was ill with malaria, which killed his two other sons.

“I suppose deep in my heart I always imagined that when he was better, or I had got another wife, I would go and take him back,” Banda told the Mail on Sunday. “I did not think anyone would want to take him away.”

But Banda, 31, said he and his family had agreed to allow Madonna and her husband, Guy Ritchie, to adopt the child, believing it would give him the chance to receive a good education and grow up healthy.

“He will always be in my heart. I hate to see him leave Malawi but I have come to accept the loss,” Banda said. “The government people told me it would be a good thing for the country. He will come back educated and able to help us.”

Until recently, Banda said he had no idea the woman seeking to adopt his one-year-old son was a world-famous celebrity. He said all he knew was that she was a “nice Christian lady”.

Banda met Madonna in court in Malawi at an adoption hearing. He told the Mail he looked into her eyes and “could tell from them that she was a good lady”.

Malawi’s high court granted the 48-year-old entertainer and her filmmaker husband an interim order allowing them to take custody of the boy less than a week ago but the adoption plan has sparked anger in Malawi and elsewhere.

Malawian law prohibits adoptions by non-residents, but officials granted an exemption or waiver to Madonna. Human rights groups are challenging that decision and plan to seek a court injunction on Monday to stop the adoption.

Eye of the Child, the leading child advocacy group in Malawi, said the request would be filed in a magistrate’s court in the capital Lilongwe on behalf of about five dozen non-governmental organisations.

The pop icon, who already has two children, could also face hurdles in Britain, where she lives, because she has failed to register with a local authority for adoption, the Mail said.

Madonna and Ritchie, who arrived in Malawi on October 4 on what was described as a humanitarian trip, left on Friday without the child, who did not have a passport.

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