The Princess of Africa: Yvonne Chaka ChakaNov 11, 2020 08:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
Born in Dobsonville, Soweto in South Africa in 1965, Yvonne Ntombizodwa Moloko Machaka, simply known as Yvonne Chaka Chaka, would be become one of the great musicians in Africa. From meeting and singing for political leaders across the world to becoming a humanitarian, she is fondly called The Princess of Africa.
Her beginning was humble, born to a mother who worked as a domestic worker and the sole breadwinner as Chaka Chaka’s father passed away at an early age. Her career began in 1981 when she became the first Black child to perform on Sugar Shack, a local talent show. She was soon signed onto a local record label, Dephon Records, and launched her debut album titled "I’m in Love With a DJ" in 1987. This debut album hosted a number of hits including one of her most famous songs, “Umqombothi, which means African beer.
Throughout her illustrious musical career, Chaka Chaka produced 20 albums and performed for world leaders and celebrities such as the first democratic president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, former U.S President Bill Clinton, Queen Elizabeth, and Oprah Winfrey. She has shared stages with other international music artists such as Angelique Kidjo, Bono, and Johnny Clegg Read. In the midst of her career, she pursued her education, one of her mother’s wishes, and graduated from the University of South Africa with two diplomas.
Chaka Chaka is also an entrepreneur with her own music label, production company, and limousine company. She has been recognized not just for her musical talents but for her humanitarian work as well. The United Nations appointed her a Goodwill Ambassador for the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and UNICEF. She is part of the Ashinaga Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council which supports orphaned students across Africa to access quality tertiary education.
In 2006, she established the Princess of African Foundation to complement her work as a Goodwill Ambassador and it focuses on combating malaria. Chaka Chaka was the first African woman to receive the World Economic Forum's Crystal Award, which celebrates leading artists whose leadership has inspired inclusive and sustainable change.
Last year, she was bestowed the highest honor for an artist in South Africa by President Cyril Ramaphosa - the Order of the Ikhamanga in Silver. She is considered a role model throughout Africa for her compassion and her ability to leverage her success in order to influence and promote women’s rights and issues of child protection everywhere.
Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachlor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies.
She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content.