By Sindiso Dube, recently in Gwanda
Renowned gospel musician Mkhululi Bhebhe says fellow musicians should not succumb to pressure from fans into living an “artificial life” t self torture.
Bhebhe was part of a galaxy of local and regional artistes who graced this year’s edition of the Gwanda International Gospel Festival last week. Other gospel music gurus who attended the show included Sipho Makhabane, Shongwe, Mathias Mhere, Takesure Zamar Ncube among others.
Bhebhe secretly tied the knot in March 2017 at a Bulawayo court and only publicised his wedding last month on Facebook.
In an exclusive interview with Standard Style on the sidelines of the festival, the Ichokwadi hit maker said they kept their weeding a secret so that they could handle the pressure from the public.
“I got married way back in 2017, but we kept it between my family and close friends,” Bhebhe said.
“When I posted it on social media recently, I was just clearing the air and finding my peace because there were now complications.
“You know when people don’t know that you are married they will be putting you in their prayers, now its public knowledge that Mkhululi is off the market.”
Bhebhe revealed that artistes suffer from public pressure on how to live their lives and by succumbing to such pressures, many fell into depression which if not managed properly could destroy their careers.
“People, especially celebrities live under pressure. People expect them to live a certain life even if they haven’t reached the perceived level,” he said.
“Depression has affected artistes and it’s because they try to live a life which is not theirs. Look at HHP and the young man Tammy who was on Idols.
It’s always good to live within your means and avoid putting pressure on yourself.
“The devil corners you and makes you believe that no one wants to hear your issue and not judge you.
Public figures have a lot of issues that they can’t talk about freely. Ordinary people can air out their thoughts even on social media, I envy that, but for a public figure to post about their issues its hard — not because I don’t have anything to say, but I have to think of how my mind and thoughts are perceived and that leads to depression.
“It kills us, it affects our inner self, you are alone, even at night and think about it on your own and it kills your inner self.”
He encouraged people not to suffer from depression in silence and find people to talk to.
“I don’t encourage people to suffer from in silence, find people to talk to and for the gospel artistes, if you fall, you can still rise,” he said.
“For all artistes, if another new artiste comes in to take the fame away from you, it doesn’t mean God has forsaken you. You can rise again.
“Find someone that you can talk to- whether a pastor, a relative or a friend.”
Bhebhe grew up in Bulawayo’s high-density suburb of Pumula with his grandmother. He went to David Livingstone Secondary School before going to St Columbus High where he took part in extra curricula activities such as drama and music.
After A’ Level he got a job at a railway company where he worked for five years before contesting in the CBZ Academy Talent show.
“I tried to do music here [Zimbabwe], but the situation and the ground was not conducive and I moved to South Africa,” he said.
“I was depressed. When someone leaves their home and family it means they have tried everything and they have failed. They are now putting whatever is left in them on the line, and this leads to depression.”
Bhebhe said he had to do manual jobs in South Africa.
“In South Africa I served in a church and the pastor had a small company where we would be contracted,” he said.
“My job usually was to drive a truck which ferried electricians to repair faults. I would drive the guys and when there was need for manual work I would chip in and assist.”
The musician said he did not apply nor audition to be part of Joyous Celebrations, his pastor “secretly applied” for him.
“When I got to South Africa, I thought my life was going to be ordinary. I had resorted to being in church every time, it’s either I was in church or doing the small jobs,” he said.
“You would find me in church every day. I was sad that I was entering singing competitions, but I would not win. I had left a better paying job in Zimbabwe to struggle in South Africa. The defining moment really came when my pastor hooked me up with Joyous Celebration.
“She worked at Khaya radio station, which used to partner Joyous Celebration. So they had information on when Joyous Celebration would look for new members and she had to submit my name and videos of me singing in church.
“I was later called by the group informing me that I had been included into Joyous Celebration. It was a shock of my life and when I asked my pastor she just prayed and thanked God for the blessing.”
Bhebhe said his first contribution at the Joyous Celebration choir was when he sang the song Tambira Jehova, which later turned out to be a hit.
“I have never claimed to be the owner of the song and when it became a hit, my life changed. The rest is history.”
Bhebhe, who was a member of Joyous Celebration for six years described his exit as a process of growth.
“I left Joyous Celebrations after album 21, which was recorded in Dalas Texas. I left because Joyous Celebration is not an ultimate goal, which you pray for so that you get into it, but when you are in there, you will wish and be inspired to be better,” he said.
“After joining the group, my prayer line and life changed and I started praying for the better. Joyous Celebration was a stepping stone and no one had ever been a permanent member.
“I took a decision to leave and thanked them for grooming me. My exit was in good faith, I am still in touch and in good books with them the likes of Linda Mkhize.”
Bhebhe added: “I have found out that God had opened doors for me through Joyous Celebrations and I found out that I was occupying space which could be given to someone else.”
“I have started my solo career and it’s hard, but I know it will grow in future.
“When Joyous Celebration started they never thought it would be like this. I released my album titled The Ultimate Praise Experience in June last year and I have toured 13 countries including Asia after leaving Joyous Celebration.”