It’s been a while since I have been to one of those feel good kind of events. So it was rather refreshing when the Princess of Africa shared her rags-to-riches story that has inspired a lot of people.
One of the first South African artists to break through to the international stage, Yvonne Chaka Chaka (born: Yvonne Mhinga) continues to attract attention with her infectious pop melodies, youth-minded lyrics (mostly in English), and girlish charm.
Although she has yet to return from a self-imposed hiatus to raise her four children, the world eagerly waits for a comeback of the “princess from Africa.” With her powerful alto voice, Chaka Chaka helped to turn bubblegum disco into South Africa’s dominant dance music of the 1980s and early ’90s. Working with producer Sello “Chicco” Twala, she followed her 1984 hit debut single, “I’m In Love With a D.J.,” with a string of gold and platinum hits. Chaka Chaka continues to run her company Chaka Chaka Productions. ~ Craig Harris, All Music Guide.
Yvonne Chaka Chaka, in conjunction with the Roll Back Malaria and the United Nations, threw an emotive and unforgettable movie launch that soon doubled up as a platform for paying tribute to those who had added value to the Princess of Africa’s 25-year journey.
It was a career the foundation of which was laid in music, philanthropy, self-improvement in terms of education, a loving wife and mother as well as a Unicef goodwill ambassador and the United Nations envoy for Roll Back Malaria.
I remember early in her career when she first took flight from the stage. I recall how strict her mother was even after she became a star.
But being a teenager she would find ways to sneak out to a nightclub. Even when she did she stayed away from liquor. To this day she does not drink or smoke, something that was probably responsible for her sanity.
She has had adorable hit songs and was received warmly in other parts of the continent. Uganda bestowed on her the Princess of Africa crown.
Recognition came in the form of numerous invitations to be a board member in countless organisations.
That did not deter her from opening her own businesses, such as a fleet of limousines, salons like Vvonnie’s 7th Heaven, Gestetner and a huge truck boasting it’s own stage.
She has been a patron of various organisations and, among the latest, she is the Woman of Substance and a recipient of their prestigious award on the board of the Woman in South African Business Women in the Arts.
She has been crowned Chief Soukoko, one of the most powerful female chiefs to ever rule in Liberia. She now has a court in Maponya Mall in Soweto named after her.
My excitement over these achievements revolves around the fact that you can tell that Chaka Chaka grew up in an era when we referred to older people who had seen it all as mentors, unlike what is happening today.
These mentors adopted youngsters and became their surrogate parents. Of course, if one had ears like Chaka Chaka one listened. One was like a sponge that absorbed any piece that was aimed at educating and informing one to be a better person.
Having friends your age was good but complementing them with older people was even better.
Today Chaka Chaka stands tall, ready to walk where iconic and legendary Miriam Makeba once stood.
Intent on taking things head-on, she resolved to tackle Malaria after it killed one of her backing singers, Phumzile Ntuli, after a trip to Gabon. Since then she has worked tirelessly to create awareness about this often underestimated but lethal disease.
When she finally sits on a cane chair in front of her swimming pool, doting on her grandchildren and reading them stories, she will have the satisfaction of knowing that while others were making tabloids for the most stupid reasons, she was out there improving the lot of our people in Africa.
Would you say the same thing about yourself? What have you done for your country and continent today? Would you rather we do not mention it because you have a nightmare or kanjani …