Dubbed the “Princess of Africa” by her fans around the world, Yvonne Chaka Chaka has been at the forefront of South African music for 30 years and is this week celebrating both her 50th birthday and 10 year anniversary as an international development campaigner!
Working with the United Nations, as a Goodwill Ambassador for the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership and UNICEF, Yvonne was today praised for her contributions to development. At a press conference hosted by the RBM Partnership and UNICEF this morning in Johannesburg, she was recognised for her enduring work and commitment to maternal and child health, particularly for Africans, over the past decade.
In a touching video, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, thanked Yvonne for her “enormous contributions to the United Nations and our world.” He continued: “…I am proud to march side-by-side with you for a better future. You are truly the Princess of Africa, our Queen of Equality, and an invaluable friend of the United Nations.”
Through her work with the RBM Partnership, UNICEF and other organisations including ONE, Yvonne has made child survival a top priority of her humanitarian work. Visiting communities and government halls across Africa and throughout the world, she has helped raise awareness and generate political commitment for children’s health, including malaria prevention and child vaccination.
Between 1990 and 2013, the number of under 5 deaths was halved, from 12.7 million to 6.3 million. But an estimated 17,000 children under 5 still die every day from preventable and treatable causes like malaria and unsafe drinking water each day.
Born in Apartheid South Africa and raised in a Soweto township, Yvonne Chaka Chaka became the first black child to appear on South African television in 1981 and went on to launch what would become a legendary music career at the age of 19. When a band mate suddenly became ill and died of malaria while on tour, Yvonne began using her voice for the millions of Africans at risk of the preventable and treatable disease.
She also founded the Princess of Africa Foundation and has received accolades worldwide for her advocacy work
Summing up the amazing impact she has had in South Africa and around the world, South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, said:
“You have represented the country well as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership…You have also played a key role in promoting a good image of the country throughout the continent as our ambassador through music and humanitarian work.”