vendredi 10 février 2012

YVONNE Chaka Chaka became the first African woman to receive the World Economic Forum's Crystal Award in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

27 janv. 2012 | Patience Bambalele |

The forum takes place annually, with businesspeople gathering to discuss the way forward in this sector.

Since she became a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations' Roll Back Malaria Partnership, Chaka Chaka has been touring Africa while contributing to the fight against the disease.

The award by the World Economic Forum did not come as a surprise.

Previous winners of the award include actor Richard Gere, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, producer, composer and musician Quincy Jones, Bono of U2 and singer Youssou N'Dour.

The award is usually presented to individuals who strive to improve the world through their work.

In a high-class event, attended by South Africa's Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu and several world leaders, the Princess of Africa sang up a storm before making her speech.

She told the world that there was global apartheid in accessing health.

"Men, children and women are dying unnecessarily of treatable and preventable diseases," she said.

"Investing in health is a simple thing. We are here in this room today as global political and global elite. We have the power, money and knowledge to ensure that all people have access to healthcare."

Before flying to Davos, Chaka Chaka spoke to Sowetan about the award.

"I feel honoured to be recognised for contributions to fighting malaria. This means someone out there has been watching me travel all over Africa," she said.

"I know many world stars have been recipients of this honour. I am happy that I am the first African woman to win it."

Hilde Schwab, co-founder of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, who presented the award, said in a statement: "For many years Yvonne has used her voice to draw attention to the causes that will change the lives of millions, from ending apartheid to improving maternal and child health.

"She has clearly understood her opportunities to do good and the access her powerful voice allows, through both song and conversation, to reach and influence those who can act."

Born in Dobsonville, Soweto, Chaka Chaka has released 22 albums during her music career. The well-travelled musician said when she returned she would release her 23rd offering.

Recently she collaborated with fellow Roll Back Malaria goodwill ambassador N'Dour where they recorded and released a single called Proud to Be for Interpol to raise awareness over the dangers of fake medicines.

The songbird has also released a documentary film, A Motherland Tour - A Journey of African Women.

She became involved in the malaria campaign after one of her back-up singers, Phumzile Ntuli, died of malaria in 2004.

Chaka Chaka is also United Nations Children's Fund goodwill ambassador for malaria in Africa, United Nations Millennium Development Goals envoy for Africa, and was the first ambassador for former president Nelson Mandela's Children's Fund.

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