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Erykah Badu slammed for Swazi show

The singer performed at birthday celebrations for Swazi King Mswati III.

Erykah Badu. Picture: Facebook.com

JOHANNESBURG - Erykah Badu has been slammed for her performance at a birthday celebration for Swaziland's King Mswati III who has been labelled as a 'corrupt tyrant' by international human rights group the Human Rights Foundation (HRF).

The singer, who is a supporter of various charities, performed for the king at his official 46th birthday celebrations during a visit on 24 April.

HRF director of institutional affairs Alex Gladstein said Badu's performance is a slap in the face for human rights defenders in Swaziland and is a mockery of Badu's work inside the US.

"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."

The organisation is also outraged over the imprisonment of journalist Bkheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko who are on trial for contempt of court after calling the independence of Swaziland's judicial system into question in a series of articles in The Nation, the country's only independent media outlet.

They were initially arrested on 17 March, and face years in prison if convicted. Their trial resumes today in Mbabane, where criticism of King Mswati's government is forbidden and political parties are banned.

"For an artist who claims in her music and her philanthropy that she believes in the struggle against unjust government policy, Badu's celebration of Mswati is the height of hypocrisy," said HRF International Council member George Ayittey. "Despite a carefully crafted image of American civil rights activism, Badu praises Africa's last absolute monarch, a strongman who imprisons dissidents like Maseko. Badu joins a rogues gallery of celebrities like Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Jennifer Lopez, and Hilary Swank, who all performed for human rights violators to line their pockets," Ayittey continued.

Meanwhile, Badu tweeted on 28 April that she "will stand with any group opposing injustice".

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