by Frederick H. Lowe
The Human Rights Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit organization that promotes human rights globally, has slammed Mariah Carey for performing in Angola, a Southern African country known for human-rights violations.
The foundation said Carey was paid $1 million to perform at a concert on December 15 sponsored by Unitel, a mobile telephone company. The company is owned by billionaire Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the country’s ruler since 1979. The concert was part of a two-hour gala for the Angolan Red Cross, which raised a reported $65,000.
In its three-decade rule, the dos Santos family has exploited Angola’s oil and diamond wealth, taken total control of the courts, government branches and the military and has executed journalists, activists and politicians who have protested the family’s rule, the foundation said in a statement.
Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer after Nigeria, is ranked as the world’s 153rd most-corrupt state out of 177 countries.
Jermaine Dupri, Carey’s talent manager, said he knew nothing about Angola’s human-rights abuses. Dupri told Human Rights Foundation personnel that Carey performed for Unitel and for the Angolan Red Cross, not for a dictator.
Human Rights Foundation personnel told Dupri that Unitel is owned by the Santos family and that the Red Cross is managed by Santos’ daughter. Dupri responded that he was unaware of those facts, according to a news release posted on the foundation’s website.
The foundation also reported that Carey said she was happy to be in Angola and to share the show with the president of Angola. The concert took place in Luanda, Angola’s capital and largest city. Luanda also is the world’s most-expensive city in which to live.
This is the second time in several months that a famous black singer or rapper has drawn the ire of the Human Rights Foundation. In September, rapper Kanye West performed at the wedding of the grandson of Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan, which is located in Central Asia. The government of Kazakhstan also is known for its human-rights violations.
The rock singer Sting cancelled a concert there because of a crackdown on oil workers. British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the country in June and is seeking to improve relations between the two countries.
Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, called Kazakhstan “a human wasteland” where entertainers like West would be imprisoned for expressing their views. West reportedly pocketed $3 million for the gig.
Halvorssen noted that Carey performed five years ago for the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who at one time was the head of the Organization of African Unity. He embraced Nelson Mandela at a time when the United States placed him on an enemies’ list.
“It is a sad spectacle of an international artist purchased by a ruthless police state to entertain and whitewash the father-daughter kleptocracy that has amassed billions in ill-gotten wealth while the majority of Angola lives on less than $2 per day,” Halvorssen said.