100 World Class South Africans: Yvonne Chaka Chaka

2013-05-13 12:00

The other ‘Mama Afrika’

To Miriam Makeba she was ‘my baby’, to Hugh Masekela ‘my mad niece’ and to fans she’s the ‘Princess of Africa’.

She’s been topping the charts for 28 years,with 22 award-winning albums and a string of gold and platinum hits, including the iconic Umqombothi, which she’s sung all over Africa and abroad.

She pioneered ‘bubblegum’ pop, too, which later made Brenda Fassie a star.

Yvonne Machaka from Dobsonville, Soweto, was the first black child to appear on local television, as part of the talent show Sugar Shack in 1981.

Fast-forward to December 2012, and she was the first woman to receive the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award for artists who improve the world through their work ( joining Quincy Jones, Richard Gere and Youssou N’Dour, among others).

Chaka Chaka is especially active in the fight against malaria, a cause she took up after a misdiagnosis led to the death of one of her back-up singers.

In her acceptance speech, she said she has seen a ‘global apartheid’ in accessing health services, and internationally funded health programmes being frozen or scaled down.

‘The people least responsible for the crisis are paying for it with their lives.’

The Princess of Africa has a big voice, and she’s lending it to those who have none.

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