On: Yvonne Chaka Chaka

With 32 years in the music industry and as a multiaward-winning ambassador, it’s hard to look away from Yvonne Chaka Chaka, writes Helen Herimbi Six. That is the number of times my lunch with Yvonne Chaka Chaka is interrupted. We’re sitting in a quaint corner at a restaurant on the Diamond Walk side of Sandton and behind this national treasure, who has just released her new album, Keep Looking At Me, is a towering Christmas tree next to a blazing fireplace. We don’t need it, though – Chaka Chaka is warm enough. That’s the manner with which she handles each interruption. Waiter after waiter after manager and more want to make sure they have paid attention to the Princess of Africa. But she has this effect on kids, too. Before the second interruption, Chaka Chaka is telling me about an incident she remembers. “The other day I was walking eDube (in Soweto) to go and buy amagwinya (fat cakes) – I love amagwinya,” Chaka Chaka puts her hand on her chest. “So there were these kids on the street who see me and my friend walking and they start …” At this point, Chaka Chaka starts whistling gleefully. “They’re whistling I’m In Love With A DJ,” she continues. “They must have been about 12 or 13 years old. I told them: you don’t know that song! That’s a song for your fathers,” she laughs. “They were teasing me, trying to show me: ‘We know you, magogo.’ But it was funny.” Then: “Hi, papa,” Chaka Chaka shifts her focus but the smile is still the same as she greets yet another waiter. We finally order and I notice something about Chaka Chaka that I hadn’t before. She seems in genuinely high spirits. ARTISTIC ACTIVIST Perhaps it’s the new album, maybe she is just full of festive cheer, but it felt like a reinvention of self, like she’s having as much fun now as she was when she first started with the smash hit, I’m In Love With A DJ, in 1985. The singer-songwiter and UN goodwill ambassador has gone back to Read More …