African music icon, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, has been awarded an honorary degree by a top South African public university: Rhodes University.
Incidentally, the award is not for her illustrious music career that has impacted the world but for her humanitarian work.
The Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) (honoris causa) in recognition of your sustained, extensive and wide-ranging humanitarian work. This work includes your role as a Champion of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB & Malaria,” the university said.
The 55 year-old born in Soweto, beyond her music and humanitarian work is also known to be an entrepreneur and a teacher. She sang three of her songs during the ceremony where she was honored along with a top judge, Justice Dikgang Moseneke.
Dubbed the “Princess of Africa” (a name she received after a 1990 tour), Chaka Chaka has been at the forefront of South African popular music for 27 years and has been popular in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Gabon, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.
She used her fame and influence to rebel against the oppressive Apartheid government. Yvonne collaborated with legends of the music industry to release a song called Peace on our land. Her music was so inspirational that Nelson Mandela wrote a letter to her from Robben Island where he was detained. Through the letter sneaked to her by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the statesman thanked her for “singing songs that keep us alive in prison”. (Mojapelo)
Among her big tracks are “I’m Burning Up”, “Thank You Mr Dj”, “I Cry For Freedom”, “Motherland” and the ever-popular “Umqombothi” (“African Beer”). The song “Umqombothi” was featured in the opening scene of the 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda.
She has also a number of charitable organisations that she is involved with. Yvonne is a member of the Giving and Sharing Project which aims to establish a youth/schools philanthropy programme.
It encourages young people in South Africa to raise funds for local needs and they can also volunteer to do charity work in their communities. Yvonne is also involved in other organisations such as raising funds for the Orlando Children’s Home in Soweto.
She also runs her own charity organisation called Princess of Africa Foundation; this foundation has provided humanitarian aid across societies. For her constant help throughout South Africa and spreading awareness about Malaria, Yvonne was awarded with the International Global Good Star and Power Award at 2017 BET Awards.
She has shared the stage with persons such as Bono, Angelique Kidjo, Annie Lennox, Youssou N’Dour, South Africans greats like Johnny Clegg, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela, to name a few.
She has performed for Queen Elizabeth II, US President Bill Clinton, South African President Thabo Mbeki and a host of other world leaders.