Madonna’s Kabbalah Malawi cover-up: Exclusive

New information has emerged about how US pop queen Madonna’s handlers covered-up how the Kabbalah International Center used poor Malawian children as a fundraising tool, mismanaged their funds and shifted blame on the managers of the failed school project.



Madonna and her Malawian adopted children David Banda and Mercy James

Madonna and her Malawian adopted children David Banda and Mercy James

Phillippe Van Den Bossche was Executive Director of Raising Malawi, Madonna’s charity and Dr Anjimile Oponyo was the head of the planned Academy for Girls. They both were accused of malfeasance in a report done by Trevor Neilson’s Global Philanthropy Group

But as this reporter find out, it was all lies perpetrated by Neilson’s report to shift blame to helpless Malawians and distance Madonna and the Kabbalah Centre from the Malawi blow-up.

Neilson is a powerful PR consultant who has worked with political leaders like President Bill Clinton and billionaires namely; Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson among others. He has extensive experience in addressing global and domestic challenges ranging from disease to poverty in Africa.

This is the reason Madonna hired him to use his enormous experience and do a Public Relations facelift after she failed to build the $15 million girls’ academy she had promised Malawian girls, who want better free schools that successive corrupt governments have failed to offer.

Follow the money

Records show that only $850,000 of the $3.8 million Neilson claims was spent on the academy, was paid out in Malawi. The lion’s share — almost $3 million—was spent by the Kabbalah Centre’s office in Los Angeles under Michael Berg, the Co-founder of Raising Malawi.

Morgan Tembo, one of the members of the local advisory board for the school, said in an interview that from the $850,000 said to have been spent specifically on the school, his records show a mere $8,659 to have been released for the project

“According to our records only $8,659 was sent to us three months [july] after the bricklaying ceremony and clearly there was no apparent plan to cover the costs of operating the school,” said Tembo, one of Malawi renowned accountants and finance managers.

According to records this reporter reviewed, the ceremony [bricklaying] in 2009,  cost $106,250.

Records at the IRS, the US tax collectors, show that in 2008 Raising Malawi fillings totalled a million dollars [$1,042,623]  in “unspecified operating and construction costs”— of the school.  Neilson could not explain the expenditures when Newsweek quizzed him in 2011.

This is not surprising because Madonna allowed Raising Malawi to be headquartered at the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles giving the centre’s director (Philip Berg) more say and control of funds raised in the name of the Malawi school project and country’s poor orphans.

The money for the school project and the one million orphans was raised through high profile fundraisers and is still being raised on the Raising Malawi website and yet the local board was not allowed absolutely no say in how the money was spent. The Kabbalah centre, at the very least, should have been open and transparent and honest in their dealings.

Neilson admitted to Newsweek that the Kabbalah Center kept its Malawi account open, receiving and spending money after Raising Malawi registered separately with the IRS.

A Neilson aide says the Center “took in more revenue than was spent” on Malawi projects in 2006 and 2007 and that “those ‘profits’ remained” on its books, designated for Malawi use. Neilson could not say how much in profit the center kept for the past five years but says it is being used to settle the debt Raising Malawi owes the Kabbalah center.

How did Raising Malawi come to owe the Kabbalah center when it was in custody of millions in Raising Malawi funding since 2006. Why didn’t it transfer the funds when Raising Malawi ran deficits in 2009 and 2010?

And what about 2008, when the foundation had its best fundraising year, finishing with a half-million-dollar surplus, yet the center listed a $1.8 million liability from Raising Malawi on its IRS filings? How could there be a liability if it was the center that in fact owed Raising Malawi the millions it had collected over the prior two years?

When Newsweek asked the center’s tax attorney Shane Hamilton how the Kabbalah Centre and Raising Malawi divided the money that was raised for Malawi, he replied: “I don’t know if they have a structure.”

Soon after these questions  were raised about Raising Malawi and the Kabbalah Centre, Neilson moved to separate the two, replacing the Raising Malawi board of directors with a new board consisting of Madonna, her manager Guy Oseary, and her accountant Richard Feldstein. The next move was to blame others for Madonna’s failures in Malawi.

Blame game

Neilson successfully diverted attention from Madonna and the center pinning much of the blame on Raising Malawi academy director  Anjimile Oponyo, the sister of Malawi’s first female president and Philipe Van Den Bossche.

“Despite $3.8m having been spent by the previous management team, the project has not broken ground, there was no title to the land and there was, overall, a startling lack of accountability on the part of the management team in Malawi… and the management,” he was quoted as saying. “We have yet to determine exactly what happened to all of that $3.8m. We have not accounted for all the funds that were used.”

The report accused Oponyo of leading a freewheeling lifestyle which included a high salary, a car, housing, and a golf-club membership when all these were included in her contract by Madonna aides.

But the actual expenditures that Neilson tried to pin  Oponyo on looked puny and insignificant  by comparison to what the Kabbalah Center spent to finance its trips to Malawi for the bricklaying ceremony, pay for Madonna’s lodging for the whole year at the exclusive Kumbali Lodge in Lilongwe.

In Malawi golf membership costs $500 a year compared to the high flying golf clubs in the USA and other parts of the world. The car that was bought for Oponyo was a Japanese reconditioned 1996 Toyota, too old for even for a poor country like Malawi where executives drive expensive SUVs and other brand new posh cars.

One of the Raising Malawi board members told this reporter tha Oponyo’s annual salary, of $96,000, was actually less than what she was paid from her previous positions at the World Bank and the United Nations.

Oponyo, who was interviewed by Madonna herself, agreed to move to her home country with four of her six children. (If she had been posted in Malawi by the U.S. State Department, she would have received cost-of-living and hardship allowances, and educational and living-quarters benefits that would have added $150,000 to her salary.)

When contacted for interview, Oponyo declined to comment because of the confidentiality agreement she signed with  Madonna.

To complete the picture in the cover up, Neilson’s had to target Philippe Van Den Bossche, the executive director of Raising Malawi. Van Den Bossche was the boyfriend of Madonna’s ex-trainer.

He got the job through the Kabbalah center, where he was the development director before Madonna hired him to run her charitable activities in Malawi.

“Philippe’s level of mismanagement and lack of oversight was extreme in both aspects of the project and the lack of success of the players on the ground is in large part a result of his inability to effectively manage project plans, people and finances,” Neilson’s report reads in part.

Van Den Bossche is also gagged and couldn’t comment because of the confidentiality agreement he signed with the pop star.

The other lie

Unrelenting, Neilson still pushes two explanations for why the Raising Malawi school was not built: that there weren’t enough girls living near the school to attend it and that the Malawi government never transferred the title deed for the 117 acres plot that was grabbed from the families of Chinkhota Village, 15 kilometres outside Lilongwe — Malawi’s capital city.

On the first explanation, Madonna had said that she was building the elite academy to accommodate about 500 underprivileged girls from the country’s 28 districts. So clearly, Neilson’s explanation cannot justify the shutting down of the project.

The second explanation that the Malawi government didn’t transfer the title for the land is just another sad lie.  There is a lease signed on January 4 by the land registrar in Malawi stating that the Raising Malawi academy “is now registered as the proprietor of the leasehold interest” in that property.

Neilson says Raising Malawi will now focus on financing “proven interventions.” If Madonna is willing to throw her money and prodigious fundraising talents behind the effective programs that already exist, that would be the best news possible for Malawi.

What Madonna has done since abandoning the academy has been to build school blocks in partnership with BuildOn,  in already established rural primary schools. This is not surprising because it is a much cheaper option since most of the money was mismanaged by Kabbalah Center.

“My original vision is now on a much bigger scale,” Madonna said in a statement after the school’s collapse. “I want to reach thousands, not hundreds, of girls. I want to do more and I want to do it better,” she said in a statement justifying why she closed the school.

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48 thoughts on “Madonna’s Kabbalah Malawi cover-up: Exclusive”

  1. Thomas says:

    Why blame those that were trying to help? Madonna, not Western nations, did not create the poverty in Malawi. Stop expecting handouts and then getting angry when you don’t revive them.

  2. Dzoneni says:

    What is the story trying to say kodi?? Mungoyalutsanapo apa.

  3. joe gonzales says:

    I am from the United States and have many projects and work going on in Balaka. Madonna is a farce and not to be trusted. My nonprofit Earthen Vessels actually helps people.

  4. wade says:

    Don’t believe everything you read.

  5. ed says:

    Amenewo ndiye azungu.I am not a racisit but a white person will never do anything for the good of a black person.

  6. The brother says:

    ANYASA TIMES ZOMALEMBA NKHANI ZAZITALI NGATI YA BULU MULEKELETU…, ife zimativuta kuwerenga nkhani zazitali ngati izi khala ngati buku esh koma anyasa times zifupikisani nkhani zanuzi,,,, esh

  7. sam says:

    where did Oponho get her doctorate? lying Jezebel!

  8. emmanuel says:

    god help our land Malawi ,defend our land from evil activity

  9. victim Chamkhuni Lwazazi says:

    There are good legal courts, lawyers and watch-dog organizations in US. Why not nail these spoilers, Maddona? Our girls are still at a loss concerning their helping hand’s offer.

  10. khakhakha says:

    Let me remind you, proper researching on Zimbabwe’s economy would help you. You still seem walking in the dark. Zimbabwe has never sorted out her economy and never will they come out of the mess be it short or longer terms. Its another rock bed failed state. The are using US $ as simple as that. Stop sprouting uninformed details to Malawians. Stop it !!! Stop it please!!

  11. Kanyimbi says:

    Please we should not wash our underwear outside. These westerners are in big financial problems than us. Just find out France, Spain, Greece, USA and many countries are in big trouble. Lets solve our own problems like how Zimbabwe did. Osawanyengelera atsamundawa. ukakhala umphawi bola ife tiawuzolowela koma iwo ukubwela panopa.

  12. Taweni says:

    So Madonnah did not tell it all. If it is true then the country should not disclose all the poverty existing in our midst. We should not get excited as we might learn it the hard way.


  13. Nyapapi says:

    Nkhani three years ago! Eish!

  14. GONANI says:

    Mabvuto, you are an idiot! Whoever is ordering you to write this , is also a big idiot. For how long will you, fuckers try to pull Madonna backwards? She is a person with good heart, that is why she is now called the Malawian ambassador of good will.
    So don’t try to take that away from her by discrediting her with stupid speculations. Get a life!

    1. Proudly chewa says:

      They are more than speculations my brother. This is joyisi banda propaganda. Are you not surprised why this stuff is coming up now? Cashgate money is at work here.

    2. RealMalawi says:

      Kodi zimene walemba ndizonama ? Inutu munthu uyu wa kugwirani pakhosi. Choona kuwawa eti?

    3. me says:

      you dont know madonna man.
      you dont know what you are talking about.she is racist man shut up

  15. MAYO says:

    JB ndi dhilu, adzimuputsitsa Peter yemweyo

  16. Mulopwana Wa Mamwene says:

    Pali bii pali minga, ameneyo nde Madonna kutakata. Madonna busy Muliking poor Malawians in the name of unseen charitable organisation. God help Malawi and forgive Madonna for being very …………..

  17. Ghost of Kamuzu says:

    And our corrupt incompetent President Peter Mutharika made the same Madonna a Ambassador! This is so they can share the stolen millions.

  18. m'bantu says:

    Kathyali ameneyu. poti timasusukira wa khungu lofiira, ayi, choncho. ati giving her VVIP for what?

  19. Israel2013 says:

    Very interesting. Each time someone seems to be ready to give helping hand just know or beware that they are just helping themselves.

  20. Kaballahist says:

    If Madonna was able to raise millions just by virtue of adopting the two children and her lies that she was to build a girls academy how much is she likely to raise now using her new title? People out there have made personal fortunes just by virtue of us making them Honorary Consuls of Malawi in their countries with us benefiting nothing. I will not be surprised one day to learn that someone personally benefited from this Goodwill Ambassador thing

  21. madonna is a mafia and i wonder why some people who claim to be educated associate with her, mwina they want to be taught the mafia life, shame.

  22. Nana Chione says:

    DZIMVERE MUNTOLO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. okey we have heard it you have explained about 2006-2010,what about 2011-2012 was nothing happened during that jovial period?

    1. Proudly chewa says:

      Good question brother. Normally when writers exclude and cook some information people have such unanswered questions, and umangodziwiratu kuti a duck who is swimming in cashgate money outside this country is the one playing the game.

  24. me says:

    NICE.even have a salary of $150.000 everymonth.
    Im here to help malawi.only lies but i already told that.
    she go there take a few snaps with poor people after ask for donations and she keep the money for herself.
    JB was the only one that put a brake to that women and now you are seeing all the reasons.
    explain me one thing?how a racist women adopt two black children?
    if she go there again you receive her with hugs and nice words because she want more money.
    its another your eyes.
    sometimes you are so inocent people.this is only business.
    madonna she is racist,only stay in 5 stars hotels with all demanding that she want.
    sometimes when she go to other countries she even send the hotel people to desinfect the room she is going to stay so what do you think when she go malawi?
    its nchito to get more money.make a sacrifice to collect money its just that

  25. Matokoso says:

    Old news. Give us something new not this western media recycled news. Malawi journalists kuzipopa

  26. Mmihavani says:

    Nsanje basi a Malawi thats why you can’t get rich. Mmafuna akusiireni chikwama za bungwe lake musololemo basi. If Oponya would have been highly paid by somebody else why doesn’t she secure another job? She was free to turn down the offer.

  27. Kardashian says:

    The Kaballah centre was investigated in the US and anyone can google this up. Madonna is not Kaballah and she doesn’t run the organisation. Believe me, if Madonna had stolen any money the US law would have caught up with her after the investigation. Indeed, people who donated the money would have demanded for it back! US is not a banana republic like Malawi. So, there is no cover up. All the information is freely available. The problem with the Malawi project was Joyce Banda and her sister Ajimile who wanted to profit from the charity as they always do with donor money. By the way, why can’t the Malawi Givernment build decent schools for its children? Why wait for foreigners? How many decent schools could be built with the $92 billion that Bingu stole and the $billions stolen under Joyce Banda’s watch? If you are serious as a country you could build 27 Kamuzu Academies, one in each district, with the money that you let your politicians steal!

  28. Observer says:

    Go on man. That is the Mabvuto Banda I know. Daring where eagles don’t. I like the article. Those who will read this article will understand why these ‘whites’ keep us fighting amongst ourselves.

    They are good at covering their dirty deals while putting all the blame on innocent ‘blacks’.

  29. zoona says:

    no matter what: David and Mercy are better off. God Bless Madona

  30. Solitude says:

    We know there are people who were planted to be causing confusion in this country by those loosers we pretty well know. We know some are being used to be master minders of strikes in workplaces. They are hiding under the pretext of being workplace union leaders. Some are just following up without knowing who the real organizers are but mind you, the consequences will be felt by you and your families in the long run. Now they are on Madonna just because she sides with the current administration. People are being sponsored to write negative stories about her and tarnish her image just to fulfill their selfish egos. Just recently they were on BEAM and Mulhakho trying to discredit these two groups just because they are connected to the current administration in one way or another. Some have been given the tasks of holding press conferences which are being funded by cashgate money. We know somebody has a remote control somewhere but sooner or later Malawians will know the truth about all these happenings. What a poor Nation!

  31. njovu says:

    Since when was it an aging American pop stars responsibility to fund educational development in Malawi?
    is it not the role of government? being angry as a result of limited charity is a symptom of an aid dependent country.
    It’s time we took responsibility for ourselves instead of expecting those more fortunate to constantly give hand outs. otherwise Malawi shall remain an impovrished, beggar state.

  32. machendy says:

    and yet she is treated as a god when she comes here. I guess joyce was right all along

  33. Angel of Doom says:

    When did all this happen?

    Is that how long it takes to investigate? Or is this coming out because Madona visited again?

    All this should have been, done and dusted long time ago.

    Why do we Malawians live in the past?

    How will bringing this up again change anything? Are we trying to stop this Madona woman from building the schools she has promised yet again?

    It does not mater which way this is twisted, someone misappropriated $3,000,000, How does that change ” the sizes of our anus”

    There is a saying “Let sleeping dogs lie”

  34. 2019 says:

    You definitely need JONAH FALCON to punish you with his 13.5” (34.4 cm) dick!

  35. Mhesha says:

    Atumbuka mwayambapo…just because the Material Girl is trying nurse a relationship with APM’S government? Remember simmakonda kwanu.

  36. chakhalira says:

    If what I have read above of this man Nelson is true, then indeed the devil is not respecter of any Nation, Race or tribe. How can this man stoop too low to lie in this manner and try to implicate the innocent Dr. Oponyo?

    If you do not have people in US who can ably manage these US Dollars, there are well able Malawians like the author of this comment ( Chakhalira) who can control these funds. By the way, if these funds are really raised to benefit Malawian Girls, then open up the Foreign Denominated Currency ( US$) Account and entrust Malawians to control these funds if you are serious with the project, We are very ready to control these funds in Malawi here than the one Nelson who keeps on stealing from this pocket.

    Can we give you a hand?

  37. Mulopwana Mlorehniwa says:

    This thief recently dined with Peter Mutharika at State House where he gave her a dubious position as goodwill ambassador . Talk of birds of a feather! Lhomwes are something

  38. o says:

    Oponya Ntila, still bitter with Madonna huh?

  39. Patriot says:

    Kudyera ma Orphans.
    Akuti akutolerabe ndalama in the name of Raising Malawi mpaka pano, KUDYELERA.
    Mbala ya chikopa choyerayi siyabwino.
    Ambiri ku Americako alemelera ana amasiye chifukwa cha ma pulojekiti a feki. Raising Malawi inali pulojekiti ya feki.

  40. Rodriguas Latata says:

    Colonialists still partitioning Africa for less and without respect at all. Malawi doesn’t need these ‘celebrity’ lies anymore.

  41. Mbukavu says:

    Madonna is not a very honest charecter It is unfortunate that we Malawians think that she can be our ambassador for children Madonna fails to manage even her own family

  42. Myangwe Joe says:

    This is very serious! This is why JB crossed paths with the pop star? Ah this lady is not really helpful

  43. finye says:

    The guilty are always afraid!! za ziiiiiiiiiiiiii! Oponyo- please try and get an international job if you are qualified!! otherwise start your own school

    1. Gogo says:

      @ Finye

      You question Oponyo’s credentials?. Having worked with her I can describe her as one of the finest we have in the area of education. Iwedi ndiwe finye. Politics aside she is simply up there interms of academic credentials.

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