Dobsonville, Soweto, 1965:
A child is born to Puti and Sophie Machaka, the Machakas had three girls: Doreen, Refiloe, and Yvonne Ntombizodwa Moloko Machaka .Today Yvonne is known as the Princess of Africa, performing artist, entrepreneur, and humanitarian, “Yvonne Chaka Chaka”
Considered a role model throughout the African continent, she has demonstrated compassion for others throughout her career. Yvonne has taught literacy, promoted the rights of women, and never stopped to work to protect children everywhere.
As UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador against malaria, and also Ambassador for Roll-Back Malaria (sponsored by the World Bank, United Nations, World Health Organization, and other institutions), Yvonne tirelessly campaigns for medications and bed nets that will help to end malaria — a preventable and curable disease that kills 3,000 people in Africa every day.
Inspired by these statistics she created her own charity, the Princess of Africa Foundation. Yvonne says, “We want to raise awareness and take initiative to eradicate this needless disease. People need to know more about malaria because it kills almost one million Africans a year, most of them children.”
Yvonne has also served as Ambassador for the University of South Africa (UNISA); City of Johannesburg Tourism, and Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Campaign. Yvonne embraces the belief that every citizen should play a part in building community, so when she was asked to become an honorary Colonel in the South Africa Air Force, she didn’t hesitate. Her duties include team-building and attaining excellence in communication.
In 2001 Yvonne was named one of the Top 100 Heroes of South Africa by the Star Newspaper. Despite a travel schedule that keeps her on the road much of the time, Yvonne continues to make time to motivate, inspire, and educate everyone she meets. And she says “I am always ready to learn from others.”
Her continual efforts to raise donor monies from various African governments, the Global Fund, the World Bank, and the Gates Foundation ensure that those who need help the most will get it. Of the many awards and accolades she’s earned, Yvonne says that being the recipient of the Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship Award, established in 1957, was a great honour. “This award of excellence is such a distinction. I realize that it is through the efforts of others, who walked this path before me, that I am able to follow in their footsteps to help others. It is a privilege to serve my communities and make the world a better place for all our children.
Her numerous accomplishments, and endurance in a demanding industry, can be attributed to an indomitable will and a childhood guided by the strength of her mother, Sophie Machaka. A domestic worker with only a Standard 6 education, Yvonne’s mother was a life-long teacher to all who knew her. She was Yvonne’s first mentor and gave her the gift of character. Yvonne says, “I know what it is like to sleep without food. I know what is like not to have. My mum taught me that when you die you will never take anything with you. So when I have, I share with others.”
Today, the voice of Yvonne Chaka Chaka has also become the voice for untold others who suffer injustice and disease. Her wisdom and insight, combined with common sense and good judgment, have become evident in the dignity, poise, and courage she radiates. It is said that the only way to have a friend is to be one, and the Princess of Africa lives this credo. She has embraced an array of people from every walk of life, and her friendships span the globe. The diversity, and quality, of Yvonne’s relationships are like her music — different notes blending together to create the perfect sound. This belief in the human family is at the core of her beliefs, “I would love for all people to be equal in the world and just to know that God loves us all.”
Those who are closest to Yvonne recognise that she exudes a wisdom that flows from the highest source. Yvonne is a dramatic example of the power of one. Passionate about changing her world, she works ceaselessly to build a better future for Africa. A non-drinker and non-smoker, Yvonne maintains strong spiritual connections.
Her philosophy is, “When we are born we come with nothing. And when we die, we die with nothing. God thank you for the life that you have given me.I love life, and I live it to the fullest.” “We are the instruments of Heaven. Our work is not design, but destiny.” African icon Yvonne Chaka Chaka is living her destiny, and those who understand her message are enriched by it.