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Look after my boy, Malawi father tells Madonna

Written by: Staff

LIPUNGA, Malawi, Oct 26 (Reuters) The father of the African boy that Madonna plans to adopt has pleaded with the singer not to send his child back to Malawi, saying he still supports her bid to take custody of the one-year old.

''My message to Madonna is that she should not be discouraged, be strong. As we agreed and we expect that after three to four years the child shall come back for us to see him,'' Yohane Banda told Reuters Television yesterday.

''You (Madonna) should not be shaken or disturbed by this because there are no ill intentions,'' he said.

Banda was responding to Madonna's remarks to US talk show host Oprah Winfrey broadcast yesterday, when she expressed concern over the controversy surrounding her planned adoption of Banda's son David.

Banda said yesterday he knew the boy would be taken away to be raised and educated by the 48-year-old star, but said he was unclear about the legal agreement he had signed and still regarded himself as the child's father.

''When we gave the child to Madonna we gave away the child just like the orphanage would have done...to raise the child and educate the child. We never wished that the child should come back. What we are saying is that the child should not come back,'' he said.

He also said he did not support efforts by Malawian human rights groups, which have gone to court to try to block what they say is an illegal adoption that could amount to child trafficking.

Malawi's High Court will convene tomorrow to decide whether the rights groups have a case.

''I'm the father of the child in this case. If they wanted to correct anything they should have called me or the family,'' Banda said. ''It is not for them to fight for me and for the so-called rights of my child.'' The American singer told Winfrey that she and her husband, British film director Guy Ritchie, had met the boy's father in court and obtained his consent.

The child is now at Madonna's London home with her other two children -- daughter Lourdes, 10, and son Rocco, 6. Final approval for the adoption order is expected in 18 months.

Madonna told Winfrey she promised the father she would bring the boy back for visits. After receiving an education and a better life, she said, he might some day be able to return to his homeland and help people there.

David has spent most of his life in an orphanage with 500 other children although his father is alive. Madonna said she was told his mother and three siblings had died of AIDS and added: ''From my perspective, there was no one looking after David's welfare.'' REUTERS DKB RN1509

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