Malawi villagers outraged by Madonna school cancellation

Malawian residents in the area where Madonna planned to build her girls school have reacted with anger following news the project has been scrapped, alleging they were "duped" into giving up their land.

The pop superstar had planned to build an education facility in the village of Chinkhota, close to the capital Lilongwe, through her Raising Malawi charity.

But the singer announced this week (beg21Mar11) that the project has been abandoned amid allegations of financial mismanagement and the dismissal of the foundation's board of directors.

The move to scrap the project has now drawn criticism from those living in the area where the school was to be built - as many handed their land to the government to make way for the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls in the hope the project would bring jobs to the area.

Grevansio Makina, 42, tells Britain's The Times, "I used to have a maize garden here but I was told to make way for the school. We agreed to give up the land because we hoped we will get some employment... but we have been duped."

Village leader Chief Chinkhota adds, "I don't know what to tell my people for it was me who convinced them to give up their land. Now they think I fooled them... Maybe I should just give the land back to the owners. But my hands are tied since we gave the land to the government, that in turn gave it to Madonna. We don't know what to do."

Madonna has poured millions into Malawi through the charity in recent years and her two youngest children, David and Mercy, were adopted from the nation.