Yvonne Chaka Chaka ’s latest accolade, BET’s International Global Good Power Award, isn’t for her music, but for her work related to improving the health of Africans.
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The South African songstress Yvonne Chaka Chaka , fondly known as the Princess of Africa, has long been synonymous with excellence in the music industry, locally and internationally.
Her lyrics resonated with freedom fighters during the apartheid years. After democracy, her focus shifted when one of her backup singers died of malaria.
“She began the Princess of Africa Foundation, where she works to eradicate the effects of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV and to carry out community and social charity works,” said BET. “There, Chaka Chaka focuses on healthcare, education and sanitation.”
The foundation’s work includes making healthcare and vaccinations available to those in need. It also provides items such as bed nets and anti-mosquito sprays. “The foundation also educates citizens about malaria treatment and prevention, and works to promote literacy.”
Chaka Chaka told the Times Live website she was humbled to be recognised by a brand she enjoyed.
“I love BET; I watch their channels but I always thought it was more for the young people. So when I was told that I was nominated, I was deeply humbled because they were recognising me for respecting my talent and the responsibility that came with it,” she said.
She remembered that American musician Chaka Khan was honoured in 2013 but she never imagined she would one day also be included on such an esteemed list.
“Knowing the power of my talent helped me to be able to help people. Most of my work to advocate for education and good health has been done on the continent, but it was only because people already knew who Yvonne Chaka Chaka was that I got the opportunity,” she said.
As a UN Goodwill ambassador, Chaka Chaka helps to elevate the country’s international profile. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon showed appreciation for her “enormous contributions to the UN and our world”. He said: “You are truly the Princess of Africa, our queen of equality.”
She will attend the BET Awards in Los Angeles on 29 June 2017 to receive her accolade.
In good company
Alongside Chaka Chaka, Somali human rights activist Ilwad Elman will also receive the BET International Global Good Power Award.
“Elman is the director at the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, named for her father and founded by her mother,” reads the BET website. “There, she works tirelessly to disarm and disengage children, thereby saving them from their exploited existence at the hands of warlords who use them as guards and soldiers.”
She also advocated for the 2015 Somalia Child Rights Convention, which creates a system for child soldiers to be rehabilitated instead of imprisoned.
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