Mzansi Profiles! People Yvonne Chaka Chaka Biography| Early Life, Career, Discography, Humanitarian Work, Awards, Personal Life

Yvonne Chaka Chaka Biography| Early Life, Career, Discography, Humanitarian Work, Awards, Personal Life

Yvonne Chaka Chaka Biography| Early Life, Career, Discography, Humanitarian Work, Awards, Personal Life post thumbnail image

Yvonne Chaka Chaka is a multi-talented South African singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, humanitarian and teacher. She has been at the forefront of South African popular music for 35 years. Known as the “Princess of Africa,” Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s career spans multiple disciplines, including advocacy for health and education, making her a revered figure both locally and internationally.

Early Life

Yvonne Chaka Chaka was born Yvonne Machaka in Dobsonville, Soweto, to a Swazi mother and a Pedi father on March 18, 1965. She had a difficult upbringing – her father died when she was 11 years old, and her mother, a domestic worker, raised three daughters on a meagre 40-rand-a-month salary.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka has a degree and diploma from the University of South Africa, one in adult education and another in local government, management and administration. She also studied speech and drama at Trinity College, London, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1997.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka Biography

Yvonne Chaka Chaka Biography (Image Credit: Instagram @yvonne_chakachaka)

Career

Yvonne Chaka Chaka began her singing career in 1984 at the age of 19 when she was discovered by Phil Hollis of Dephon Records in Johannesburg. Her debut album, “I’m in Love With a DJ,” launched her into stardom with hit songs such as “I’m Burning Up,” “I Cry for Freedom,” “Sangoma,” “Motherland,” and “Umqombothi,” solidifying her place in South Africa’s mbaqanga music scene.

Breakthrough and Rise to Fame

As a young performer, Yvonne Chaka Chaka was the first black child to appear on South African television in 1981. Her career continued to ascend as she shared stages with international and South African icons like Bono, Angélique Kidjo, Annie Lennox, Youssou N’Dour, Johnny Clegg, Miriam Makeba, and Hugh Masekela. She has performed for prominent figures such as Queen Elizabeth II, US President Bill Clinton, and South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka Biography

Yvonne Chaka Chaka Biography (Image Credit: Instagram @yvonne_chakachaka)

Discography

Throughout her career, Yvonne Chaka Chaka has released numerous hit albums. Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s discography includes numerous acclaimed albums such as :

  • I’m Burning Up (1986)
  • Sangoma (1987)
  • Thank You Mr. DJ (1987)
  • I Cry for Freedom (1988)
  • The Power of Afrika (1996)
  • Back On My Feet (1997)
  • Bombani (Tiko Rahina) (1997)
  • Princess of Africa: The Best of Yvonne Chaka Chaka (1999)
  • Yvonne and Friends (2000, 2001)
  • Kwenzenjani (2002)
  • Princess of Africa, Vol. 2 (2002)
  • Celebrate Life (2006)

Her song “Umqombothi” was featured in the opening scene of the 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda.

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Advocacy and Humanitarianism

Yvonne Chaka Chaka is deeply involved in humanitarian work. She is a champion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria and serves as the United Nations MDG Envoy for Africa and the Goodwill Ambassador for the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. Nelson Mandela appointed her as the first ambassador for his children’s fund.

In 2006, she founded the Princess of Africa Foundation, partnering with the ACTION global health advocacy partnership. She received the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award in 2012 and has served as an Honorary Colonel in the South African Air Force.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka has participated in global campaigns and initiatives to support women’s rights, education, and health. In 2015, she signed an open letter from the ONE Campaign advocating for women’s priorities in development funding. She also supports the Ashinaga Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council, aiding orphaned students in Africa.

Honours and Collaborations

“Mama Africa” Miriam Makeba referred to Chaka Chaka as “my baby,” and Hugh Masekela called her “my mad niece.” She has been dubbed the “Princess of Africa” and owns her own music label and production company.

Awards

Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s accolades include the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award, recognition as the 8th Most Powerful African, a spot in the Top 100 Most Influential Women in the World, and the Global Good Award at the 2017 BET Awards.

Personal Life

Yvonne Chaka Chaka is married to Dr. Mandlalele (Tiny) Mhinga, and they have four children together.

References

Queen of all Africa: Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s life in service of her continent

Banco Mundial- Yvonne Chaka Chaka

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