Yvonne Chaka Chaka on receiving her third honorary doctorate: ‘It says somebody is watching’

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After receiving her third honorary doctoral degree from the Tshwane University of Technology earlier this week, Yvonne Chaka Chaka says walking across the stage brought back feelings of nostalgia and reminded her one was never too old to learn.

Chaka Chaka’s degree was conferred to her on Monday. She previously received honorary degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2012 and Rhodes University in 2018.

Speaking to News24, she said, “It was quite nostalgic”.

“Even from the very first one that I received, I’ve always been this person who always wants to improve herself, whether it’s academic stuff or otherwise,” she said. “I’m doing my postgraduate at Henley now, so for me, it’s a great accolade, but obviously, it puts a lot of pressure on me.”

It’s an honour

The Princess of Africa, as she is fondly referred to, said it was encouraging to receive the degrees.

“For me, when people acknowledge your work, when they appreciate you, it says somebody is watching. Be grateful but work hard and be an encouragement to others and not just sit and think, ‘oh, I’ve got these honorary degrees. So, for me, it really encouraged me to want to study even further.”


Apart from singing, Chaka Chaka made a name for herself as a humanitarian, actor and businesswoman. Most recently, she worked on a haircare range available in Shoprite and selected Checkers stores.

“It’s my business and my product, so I have to go and do promotions and stuff like that,” she said.

Apart from haircare, the Umqombothi hitmaker was also learning more about the crockery business following the launch of the limited-edition Chaka Chaka homeware range.

“Learning about the business of making crockery, for me, has been amazing, really. Thanks to the people I’ve partnered with because you learn every day,” she said. “We’re busy now with stoneware. It’s been very good; I can never complain. I’ve learned new things, new business and I can only be grateful to God and those who support me.”

Speaking about diversifying her brand into the crockery market, Chaka Chaka said it has always been diverse.

“I’ve always been diversified; I’ve never done music alone. I’ve always done music and other businesses, so, for me, this is not anything new,” she said. “From when I started singing, I had two hair salons in town; in ’93, we started a limousine business, so I’ve never just looked at music as the only source of income.”

“For me, music has been just that platform, and I’m very grateful, but I’ve always diversified.”

She admits that while she has alwasy tried new things her haircare brand was not her first attempt in the haircare market. She said she first tried in 2010 when she still had dreadlocks, but she and her then partners “didn’t crack the formula”, and they decided to discontinue it.

yvonne chaka chaka

Yvonne Chaka Chaka at the BET International Nominee Welcome Party.
Photo: Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET

“Fast forward to 2019, I got a company that approached me, and we worked, and we developed the product because they had the know-how in this industry,” Chaka Chaka said. “It’s an organic product; I use them, and they’re good for my hair. You can’t give people a pill you can’t swallow yourself.”


Chaka Chaka credited her staying relevant in the industry to her ability to reinvent herself.

“I don’t know what relevance means because you reinvent yourself, whether in business or any industry. You don’t sit and fold your arms and think everything is okay and take things for granted; that’s what I’ve learned in any business I do.”