South Africa’s living legend Yvonne Chaka Chaka was honoured for her humanitarian role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador at this year’s BET Awards, held last week.
The Princess of Africa, as Chaka Chaka is affectionately known on the continent was honoured along with Chance the Rapper and the 1990s boy band New Edition at this year’s BET Awards on Tuesday (June 27).
Born Yvonne Machaka in 1965, the Afro-pop star is an internationally recognised and highly respected singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, humanitarian and teacher.
Chaka Chaka has been at the forefront of South African popular music for 27 years and is also popular in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya, Gabon, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.
Songs like “I’m Burning Up”, “Thank You Mister DJ”, “I Cry for Freedom”, “Makoti”, “Motherland” and the ever-popular “Umqombothi” (African Beer) ensured Chaka Chaka’s stardom.
The song “Umqombothi” was featured in the opening scene of the 2004 movie “Hotel Rwanda.
As a young performer Yvonne was the first black child to appear on South African television in 1981.
Since then, she has shared the stage with a horde of personalities that include among others Bono, Angelique Kidjo, Anne Lennox, Youssou N’Dour, the classic rock band Queen and South Africans Johnny Clegg, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela.
She has performed for Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, US President Bill Clinton, former South African President Thabo Mbeki and a host of other world leaders.
Yvonne is a champion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the United Nations MDG Envoy for Africa, and the Goodwill Ambassador for the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.
She was chosen by Nelson Mandela as the first ambassador for his children’s fund, and has also established her own charity, the Princess of Africa Foundation, using the name first given to her in Uganda.
The Princess of Africa Foundation is a partner of the ACTION global health advocacy partnership. In 2012, she was the first African woman to receive the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award.
She teaches literature part-time at the University of South Africa, sits on several boards of charitable organisations and NGOs, and serves on the board of the Johannesburg Tourism Company.
Also representing Africa at the awards show was social activist Ilwad Elman being awarded with International Global Good Star and Power Awards.
At least eight leading African artistes including AKA, Nasty C, Babes Wodumo, Wizkid, Tekno, Mr Eazi, Davido and Stonebwoy were all vying for the Best International Act: Africa category.
“Amazulu” hitmaker Amanda Black and Tanzanian performer Ray Vanny were nominated for Viewer’s Choice Award “Best International Act,” in conjunction with performers from the UK, South Korea, Canada, Australia and Jamaica.