Yvonne Chaka Chaka is a legend in the South African music scene and beyond. But the superstar says she’s just the humble daughter of an Apartheid-era domestic worker, who dared to dream big.
“From a very early age, I wanted to be somebody. Because growing up under Apartheid, obviously, you became a non-entity. And as I grew I saw all these injustices and I thought it’s not the right thing. So, my music changed my life. And my music makes me tell the world about the atrocities that I was seeing, in my country at the time,” said Yvonne Chaka Chaka, a singer and UNICEF ambassador.
Just some of the many titles of the legendary Yvonne Chaka Chaka. But it’s not been an easy road for the iconic musician.
“When I started singing I was 19 years old. I’d just had a baby. I was in high school and I fell pregnant. And I had a son at 19. So my sisters just wanted me to go and find a job. To support my child and to support myself to go to university. I went to go and look for a job and as I was waiting there, a guy was with a lady that was paired with me. So we went to this recording company and the song was playing. And the song was I’m In Love With A DJ. They’d just been having auditions and they wanted somebody to sing the song. And I was at the right place at the right time,” said Yvonne Chaka Chaka.
“So I recorded I’m In Love With A DJ. I recorded Thank You Mister DJ, I recorded Motherland, I recorded Mqombothi, I Recorded Africa’s Crying for the Children. Recorded all sorts of songs. So it was one hit after the other. And I thought, there’s longevity in this industry. And I started travelling.”
Her first trip outside South Africa was to neighbouring Zimbabwe. From there she went on to share her voice with the rest of the continent.
“And I performed in places like the DRC, I performed in places like Congo-Brazzaville, I went to places like Tanzania, Kenya. And I met different faces you know, when I was going to these places. So, I met faces and places along the way. And I then decided that, you know, since I got this platform, why can’t I use it constructively? It was very good then, because songs were written for me, you know. But I then told my producers, now I want to write about the things that I see,” said Yvonne Chaka Chaka.
Tragedy struck in 2004 when Yvonne lost one of her backing singers to Malaria. But that spurred her on to do more to combat the disease – known as Africa’s biggest killer.
“And I think God works in wonders, because in January 2005 I got a call from Unicef. And they were looking for this Yvonne Chaka Chaka. And it all started there,” said Yvonne.
“Ten years later I am so humbled that I’m still doing the work that I love. But I need to thank my family. You know, my husband, my children, my sisters, my mother who was my greatest fan, that they left me to do all the work that I wanted. They left me to travel, because I believe Africa is not the dark continent that everybody perceives it to be. Africa is a great continent, I think all Africa needs is not a handout. Africa needs a hand up,” said Yvonne.
“As South Africans, we were very lucky that we were born during this great man, Nelson Mandela’s time. Not only him, we’ve got other great African countries and other African leaders who really helped us. And I’d like to say thank you to them. And that’s why I want to make sure that I do my bit,” said Yvonne.
“I can never change the world. But I can just help my Africa. And say to the leaders. let’s have the political will, let’s do it for the next generation.”
Source : CCTV
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