|Johannesburg is the "power of Africa" and "everything is here", says singer and the "Princess of Africa", Yvonne Chaka Chaka.|
Chaka Chaka has a singing career that goes back almost 20 years, but at 38 she still bubbles with youth, charm and beauty.
"Everybody is welcome in Joburg, it works for everybody. It has the best weather, the best infrastructure, and the best homes and gardens," she enthuses.
She sees God's hand in the creation of Jozi. "God is smart not to have given the city the sea, otherwise we would have it all, we have to be rationed a little," she smiles broadly.
Chaka Chaka, born in Dobsonville in Soweto and living now in the northern suburbs of Jozi, started singing at 19 and although she's involved in many ventures, says that "music is still my first love". Immensely popular throughout Africa, with the label of the "Princess of Africa", she has produced 16 albums over her long career.
Her first album sold 35 000 copies, with the song I'm in love with a DJ becoming an instant hit, followed by more hits and award-winning albums. She has won the Ngomo Award for the grand song prize of Zaire (now DRC), and the FNB/SAMA Award for best female singer.
But Chaka Chaka is also a down-to-earth girl, having raised four sons in a no-nonsense way. "I put my foot down with them and sort them out." And when angry with them or others, she has a simple solution: "I just go and sleep."
Chaka Chaka had it tough growing up. Her father died when she was 11 and her mother, a domestic worker in Florida, brought up three daughters on her meagre R40 a month salary. Still, she faced the odds head on. She has two diplomas from the University of South Africa (Unisa), one in adult education, another in local government, management and administration. She studied speech and drama at Trinity College in London, qualifying in 1997.
She owns a limousine company together with her husband, Dr Mandlalele Mhinga, has her own music label and her own production company. She teaches literacy part time at Unisa, and was recently appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the university. She sits on several boards of charitable and NGO organisations, and was recently appointed to the board of the Johannesburg Tourism Company.
She attributes her talent to her father who was a "great musician", and her mother, whom she holds in great admiration.
She sang in church as a youngster. On her website she recounts: 'When I was little I would strum an empty tin and blow into a broomstick pretending it was a microphone. I sang in church choirs, I loved singing. I am blessed that I have achieved my destiny, and have been able to accomplish what my father could not."
A recent big thrill for her was to sing at the 85th birthday party of Nelson Mandela this year. She has met Queen Elizabeth and dined with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson.
Her life has a wholeness to it. "I am a great believer in a higher power - He knew what he had in mind for me."
She says she "believes in dreaming and making those dreams come true". And one of those dreams is to continue living in Joburg.