Although Yvonne Chaka Chaka's children have all but left the nest by now, she remembers the time spent with them as babies and young children vividly, and says this bond is the basis for the way she motivated them to become successful young adults.
Yvonne has fond memories of taking her sons, Ningi (31), Themba (29), Mfuma (23) and Mandla (20), “everywhere I went, to every show, whether it was in Germany or Nigeria”. “I would be on stage performing and afterwards be a mother. I’d breastfeed my kids and have special bonding time with them,” she says.
Yvonne points out that she travelled with a child minder to look after the boys when she worked, but spent a lot of time with them regardless of her schedule. And the bond that was forged during their formative years shows today. They lovingly refer to her as Vonny and she says she believes the time spent with them while they were growing up helps them become the very best they can be today.
Yvonne says no two of her children are alike. Mandla is the intellectual of the family while Mfumu is the neatest and Themba the sweetest. She cautions, “Never compare your children.”
She says she’s never read any books on parenting and believes all parents and their parenting styles are unique. But one thing she believes to be universal: it’s not easy being a mom!
Yvonne’s advice on motherhood:
“Let your child be what they want to be; we as parents tend to want our children to do what we want and that’s not right. Our job is to love and support them.”
A good partner is essential in helping raise kids, Yvonne says. Her husband, Dr Tiny Mhinga, has often had to take care of their sons, especially when they were younger. When Yvonne would come back from a show in the early morning hours, he’d help wake the boys up, bathe them and take them to school. “We shared responsibilities,” Yvonne says.
Talk to your children. Being the only female in the house, she admits she often wouldn’t have someone to talk to, so she’d speak to her boys. And that’s made them even closer; they’ve even accompanied her to some of her functions. She has frank talks with them now they’re older but she’s always had an open line of communication with them.
Don’t be afraid to instil discipline. Yvonne says her mother taught her this, although at the time she thought it was unfair her mom would discipline her for coming home late at night after performing with Brenda Fassie! However, the values her mom taught her have made her the independent and successful woman she is today. “My mom was perfecting us, my two elder sisters and [me]; now we can [raise] and have raised our kids well.”
What keeps Yvonne going as a woman and a mother is her faith, the belief that there’s a superpower above her who has all her best interests at heart.
These are her tried-and-tested tips for keeping her own children motivated:
• Teach them to appreciate what they have.
• Teach them to respect themselves and others.
• Teach them to believe in themselves.
• Show them how to work hard by being a hardworking parent yourself.
• Teach them that nothing is for free; there are no handouts.
• If they admire somebody, encourage them to ask that person for advice.
• Spend time with each of your children alone to nurture your bond.
Busy mom: Yvonne would take her kids with her everywhere she went; whether she was performing in Germany or Nigeria her kids would be with. She travelled with a nanny but did most of the parenting herself; she wanted to create a special bond with her kids.