LILONGWE, Malawi – The father of the baby boy Madonna is trying to adopt said he is afraid criticism of the adoption will persuade the singer to drop her efforts and he urged her Thursday not to get angry.
Yohane Banda, the biological father of 13-month old David Banda, was reacting to Madonna's appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" Thursday in which the pop star said she had done nothing wrong, had not used her celebrity to influence Malawian officials and wants to give the boy a better life. She also said she feared the criticism she has received in the media could discourage others from adopting from Africa.
"I am afraid Madonna may get angry and frustrated and decide to dump my son because of these people," said Banda, referring to criticisms from human rights activists in Malawi that officials there had bent the law to speed the adoption process.
"These so-called human rights activists are harassing me every day, threatening me that I am not aware of what I am doing," Banda said. "I'm afraid David may be sent back and the orphanage may not even accept him back. So where will he end up? Here? He will certainly die."
He said activists tried to visit him Wednesday.
"I hid from them. I didn't want to see them. They want me to support their court case, a thing I cannot do for I know what I agreed with Madonna and her husband," said Banda.
The Human Rights Consultative Committee, a group of human rights groups in Malawi, has asked Judge Andrew Nyirenda to review the adoption process to make sure all the laws have been followed. A hearing is scheduled Friday.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, Banda said authorities had not made it clear to him that he was giving up his only son "for good" when he signed adoption papers earlier this month. But Thursday, he shifted the blame to human rights group.
"I was telling these rights groups that I wasn't selling my son. I said I wouldn't ... sell my son for anything but I had agreed with Madonna before a judge so my comments were taken out of context and I hope Madonna is not angry," he said.
Banda said he was not angry with journalists, but added he was spending more time with reporters than tending "to my onions and tomatoes."
Banda left his son with the Malawian orphanage where Madonna found him after his wife died shortly after childbirth — a relatively frequent occurrence in the impoverished African nation which suffers from high rates of maternal and infant mortality. He lost two other children in infancy to malaria.
Justin Dzonzi, chairman of the human rights group, said the coalition of 67 groups would go ahead with its court petition Friday to protect the rights of any child up for adoption in Malawi.
"It's not like we are blocking the adoption but we want laws followed to the letter," he said.
Dzonzi said under current adoption laws, the boy was not entitled to inherit any of the wealth of Madonna and her husband, director Guy Ritchie. He said the child also could suffer psychologically in the event of a divorce by the celebrity couple.
"We want these issues clarified," said Dzonzi.
But Banda, a subsistence farmer, argued his son had no wealth to inherit in Malawi in the first place.
"That won't change anything for David," said Banda. "Please, let them leave my son alone."