Dear Ms. Minaj-
Following your December 19th concert in Luanda, Angola, you tweeted “Angola has my heart.” More importantly, however, you also tweeted a picture of yourself with Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the president of Angola. You refer to Isabel in a comment using the phrase “girl power.”
According to Forbes, “every major Angolan investment held by Dos Santos stems either from taking a chunk of a company that wants to do business in the country or from a stroke of the president’s pen that cut her into the action.” That does not seem to me like girl power. I consider girl power to be a woman who fights for her dreams and makes them happen without any advantages handed to her, earning everything she achieves. Like you, Ms. Minaj. I think girl power is women activists educating themselves on how to peacefully change their government, meeting with others to discuss how they can bring greater human and civil rights to their country. Like Rosa Conde and Laurinda Gouveia, on trial right now in Angola for doing those exact things. How much more compelling a statement on girl power if you had tweeted out a picture with them?
Not all human rights organizations approached you asking for the show to be canceled. You have global fans and those in Angola deserve the right to enjoy one of your charismatic performances as much an anyone else. What was hoped was the opportunity to provide information about human rights abuses in Angola and urge you to leverage your celebrity to bring attention to those issues and the persons most directly impacted.
To confront a dictator, no matter how obliquely, is not something to be taken lightly. However, the mantle of your celebrity provides a cloak of protection not enjoyed by the brave activists you could have met. Like journalist Rafael Marques de Morais, whose research was the basis of the above-noted award winning article he co-wrote, exposing the ill gotten gains of Isabel. Or rapper MCK, whose socially conscious lyrics inspire a generation to reach for the rights they deserve but are denied.
Ms. Minaj, you said Angola has your heart. I hope you take the time to discover more of what truly makes her special. If you ever you decide to delve more deeply, please let me know. I would love to share all the things about Angola that have my heart.