The Sunday News
Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
THE fame of being on television at a young age had gospel musician Mkhululi Bhebhe battling with depression after he shot to fame following his impressive run on the CBZ A Academy, Idols East Africa and Joyous Celebration.
As the world commemorated World Mental Health Day last Thursday, Bhebhe poured out his heart saying he was depressed for a long time in his career.
Bhebhe said fame was a very dangerous thing as it made artistes live in a superficial world and when reality hits them, that was when depression settles in. Bhebhe shot into prominence during the A Academy in 2006 and coming second in 2007 and when he competed in 2008 at Idols East Africa which was won by Eric Moyo won.
He said during that time, he was working and driving a BMW but ended up resigning to try pursue a career in music.
Unfortunately, this was when his depression started.
“So, people are used to seeing me driving the BMW. Even those who I used to give a lift; they’d laugh at me when I was now flagging down ETs. I had resigned from my job and I was the breadwinner at home, and everyone was looking up to me. If there was no food, they looked up to me to provide. That led me to depression,” said Bhebhe.
Feeling dejected because his fame had not given him the life he wanted, Bhebhe moved to South Africa.
One thing led to the other and he saw himself on the Joyous Celebration choir in 2011 singing Tambira Jehova.
Again, he experienced another bout of despair as the song was popular but he was still working digging trenches by the roadside.
“When I sang with Joyous Celebration the song Tambira Jehova and appearing on television, I was digging by the roadside in South Africa. Cars would pass by playing Tambira Jehova. On the stage of Joyous people would be clapping for me. But by the roadside I was alone, hiding my face.
In his state of sadness, Bhebhe said he turned to God for comfort and healing with the help of his late mother (who died this year).
“I turned to God, because people will always laugh at your misery. My mother was there and she knew my problems. She’d encourage and guide me. However, the truest friend you can ever find is Jesus. That’s why in your lowest times you can open up to Him,” said Mkhululi.
He said as artistes they do not have anyone to confide in and depression was deeply rooted in the industry.
“Depression affects artistes a lot. This is because artistes don’t have anyone to confide in. They bottle up their issues and these kill them. People like HHP was like that. There was Thami from Idols, young man with a beautiful voice but because people saw him on TV they thought he has made it while he hadn’t. So, when you try to live according to that standard you can’t fulfil,” said Bhebhe.
“My mother passed away, but I can’t cry in public because people will say I’m seeking attention, I’m not the first to have a mother die. So, I should keep quiet.”
Bhebhe said as musicians they should live well within their means and not live a lavish life they cannot afford.
“People are living under pressure to impress, especially celebrities in South Africa. I don’t like to call myself a celebrity. There are many who are dying because of depression, through living a life that people think we live or deserve to live,” said Bhebhe.
He said as artistes they want to live the lavish life, but that only can be achieved with the support of fans buying music.
“If you don’t buy our music where will we get then money to buy Mercedes Benzs. We want to live that life, having a dream wedding where everything is a fairy-tale. We can’t afford this at the moment. It will come one day, with the help of Jehova,” said Bhebhe.
Turning to his music, Bhebhe said there was a hunger for Zimbabwean music across Africa.
“There’s a hunger for Zimbabwean music not only in South Africa. The type of hunger that people from South America can identify an individual from a group of many. It tells you it’s not about the person but where the person comes from,” said Bhebhe.