BET International proudly salutes Yvonne Chaka Chaka for her ferocious fight for the health and well-being of Africans and people across the world, as she uses her stellar celebrity platform for their cause. Chaka Chaka says that "it all starts with her music." She burst onto the South African music scene during the height of apartheid, and her music helped sustain Nelson Mandela, his fellow prisoners and all South Africans through those tumultuous times. Her songs became increasingly personal making her music a movement in itself. She has received dozens of South African music awards including SAMA, KORA, OKTY and Autumn Harvest Award.
Dubbed the Princess of Africa, she has motivated millions and has performed for international luminaries including President Nelson Mandela, President Bill Clinton, Queen Elizabeth, Michael Jackson and more.
When one of her backup singers died from malaria, Chaka Chaka researched and learned that it is a preventable and treatable disease, yet there are over one million malaria deaths annually in Sub-Saharan Africa alone! She learned that these staggering statistics, disproportionately affect women and children, so she wanted to protect them and decided to answer the call to activism.
She began the Princess of Africa Foundation, where she works to eradicate the effects of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV and to carry out community and social charity works. There, Chaka Chaka focuses on healthcare, education and sanitation. They work to get medication and vaccines for malaria and other diseases to the needy and to provide mosquito spraying and bed nets. The foundation also educates citizens about malaria treatment and prevention and works to promote literacy.
Chaka Chaka has recently spoken out against harmful counterfeit medications that impact 30 percent of Africa’s poor. She also fights for adequate sanitation as 2.4 billion people worldwide are without it. Having grown up poor and disadvantaged in Soweto, Chaka Chaka believes that "every citizen should play a part in building community." She is a worldwide voice for untold sufferers of injustice and disease and is fighting for equality for all people.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon thanked Yvonne Chaka Chaka for her “enormous contributions to the UN and our world.” He said, “You are truly the Princess of Africa, our Queen of Equality.”
BET International proudly salutes human rights activist Ilwad Elman for her unfaltering fight against the extreme violence and abuse plaguing women and children in the decades long war in her native Somalia. The atrocities are committed by all warring parties, authorities and warlords alike. Yet, despite harassment and threats against her own life and security, she and her mother continue the work of her late father, Elman Ali Ahmed, “the Somali Father of Peace, who was assassinated 20 years ago for his work.
Ilwad Elman is the Director at the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, named for her father and founded by her mother. There, she works tirelessly to disarm and disengage children, thereby saving them from their exploited existence at the hands of warlords who use them as guards and soldiers. In the six years that Ilwad Elman has been fighting her father’s cause, she confidently claims 3500 alumni of the EPHRC! There, they have received psycho-social, medical and educational services and are emerging entrepreneurs and leaders. Through their unique connections, these youth often bring other youth soldiers to safe harbor at the EPHRC.
Elman has successfully advocated for the 2015 Somalia Child Rights Convention, designed to create reasonable laws for child offenders. This includes creating protocols where captured child soldiers are turned over for rehabilitation instead of decades-long prison sentences, death and/or torture. The fight continues to compel authorities to honor the agreement.
And there’s more! Elman and her mother started Sister Somalia, which is a Somali first. There they help victims of rampant systemic rape, sexual servitude, marital slavery and other gender-based violence. Sister Somalia has gone head-to-head with the societal norm to remain quiet on the issue. Instead, they have brought international attention to it! Recently named the "second worst country in the world to be a woman," Somalia is rife with genital mutilation, violent rape and sexual torture, including stoning and beheading. Sister Somalia provides safe houses, trained counselors, medical intervention and more, despite the fact that those who help are often tortured to death.
Elman is an advocate for the Kofi Annan Foundation’s latest initiative, Extremely Together, where she will work to counter violent extremism by inspiring, engaging and empowering youth worldwide.