Singer Erykah Badu is facing criticism for performing in Swaziland recently. Human rights activists have called out Badu for singing “Happy Birthday” to King Mswati III.
Amnesty International and other activists have documented numerous human rights violations occurring in Swaziland.
“She owes us all an explanation,” Human Rights Foundation’s director of institutional affairs, Alex Gladstein, said in a statement. “The king is a kleptocrat who lives in the lap of obscene luxury while most of his countrymen toil in abject poverty for less than $2 a day.” According to Billboard, Badu replied in a since-deleted Tweet, “I was not paid by the KING. I had no idea of the political climate.“I want to address the people, not a group or a government agency,” she told the Dallas Morning News. “The people know I was not endorsing the king or helping to further his political agenda. I have no agenda. I went into a situation not completely knowing the political climate of the kingdom. I can’t be held responsible for the situation in the kingdom because I signed up as an artist, not as a political activist. I don’t belong to anyone or to anything. Anything I do is because I am a human being, and I am for the people.”
Badu, who had been in South Africa working on music, told The Dallas Morning News that she made the trip as a “harmless” last-minute gesture for an acquaintance. Jacob “The Jeweler” Arabo, who organized the party, told her that he needed a replacement. She presented Mswati a gift from Araboa and left to stay at a friend’s. “And all the money that I got from the trip I gave to all the servants in the house,” she said.
Should Badu have performed in Swaziland?
Does she owe an explanation?
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