Zanzibar honours Chaka Chaka

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Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg - The Zanzibar International Film Festival bestowed Africa's music princess, Yvonne Machaka, a.k.a Yvonne Chaka Chaka, with a lifetime achievement award last Friday.

Chaka Chaka, who was pleasantly surprised with the recognition, was honoured mainly for her contribution to music since 1985, which has made her a favourite in Africa.

The multi-talented artist was on the island of Zanzibar performing at the 22nd Zanzibar International Film Festival.

Chaka Chaka, who performed some of her hit songs including Umqombothi, Motherland and the unforgettable, I'm In Love with a DJ, said the award was a great surprise as she was not expecting the honour.

"Nobody told me about this award, it came as a very big surprise because I had gone to the film festival, which has a music element, to do master classes with young people as part of the Princess of Africa Foundation. Every award to me is big because it's unexpected. One does work without expectations so every award to me is quite big, acceptable and exciting, even after 34 years in the music industry,” she said.

The 54-year-old Chaka Chaka is also a committed philanthropist and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund ambassador.

Owing to a tight schedule due to her humanitarian work, she also travelled to Congo Brazzaville soon after she received the award. 

She said she had to meet with ministers in Brazzaville with the aim of finding a way forward on matters of child development.

Chaka Chaka, who is also founder of the Princess of Africa Foundation, had been mobilising the private sector and government to rally around a shared value partnership that will leverage resources for all children in Congo.

Turning to her journey in the arts industry, she said she yearned to become a singing superstar and entered Sugar Shack, a talent show, in 1981 which made her the first black child to appear on SA television screens.

She added that her talent was discovered at the age of 19 by Phil Hollis of Dephon Records when she was performing around her home town of Soweto.

The music diva also performed alongside SA greats as well as international stars including Bono, Angelique Kidjo, Annie Lennox, and Queen.

The mother of four is also an entrepreneur and an actress.

She made her way back to the TV screen this year as a no-nonsense matriarch called Gladys on the SABC2 drama Giyani: Land of Blood.

She starred in her debut feature film, Foreign Demos, as Josephine in 2009.

About her social life she said, "I play golf, I sleep a bit and just spend time with my family, my friends and all loved ones."

 

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