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When Mkhululi Bhebhe was born 27 years ago in Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, little did the world of gospel music know that a superstar has emerged.
Born and bred in Bulawayo’s black exclusive township of Emakhandeni, Mkhululi is one of the few Zimbabweans who have successful cracked into South Africa’s glamorous musical industry. Becoming a great singer takes a lot of practice, even years. But, I wondered upon listening to Mkhululi whether some singers are born to be musicians? He is a really amazing vocalist just born with a great voice. He has the looks, the confidence, the smile and the spirit to sing. Upon listening to him, the following question failed to go away - Are singers like Mkhululi born or made?
Perhaps, it is safe to say that it takes a lot of hard work and passion to learn how to be a singer and actually become a successful singer. A lot of people nowadays desire to become a musician yet, unfortunately, not all of them are able to fulfill that certain “desire”. However, as I discovered this week upon interviewing Mkhululi my homeboy and vocalist of maverick South Africa’s gospel group of the moment, Joyous Celebrations, it’s not enough for you to give up your dreams of becoming a singer. Try and try, if at first you dont succeed, try again.
This week, I caught up with Mkhululi. The singing sensation said: “Joyous Celebration is not only about the music. We are one big family and we share in each other’s successes and burdens. We pray with and for one another and we love each other so much. We learn all these values from our principals Lindelani Mkhize, Jabu Hlongwane and Mthunzi Namba. These men are just kind beyond words. Had it not been for them I would have lost my mind and died a long time ago,” the soft spoken Zimbabwean musical genius told me.
He added: “They gave me a second chance in life and gave me a whole new reason to believe in myself again. My dream is to one day be the best praise and worship leader in Africa. All I want to live for is to serve God with all that I am. I just want to spread the good news to everyone and proclaim the message that Jesus Christ is Lord. I want to change the world with my music,” he said.
In 2007 Mkhululi joined a talent show in Zimbabwe, despite being seen as the best ever talent to grace the show, he came second, probably because of reasons that cannot be written in this masterpiece. Many outsiders were appalled as to how such a refined talent could lose to a mediocre. All I can say that’s Zimbabwe for you.
The soft-spoken singer said: “Many of you guys might remember me from the East and Southern African Idols competition which took place in Kenya 2008. When I entered the competition I already had a job at a Zimbabwean Company but I was later on given an ultimatum to resign and pursue the music career or to drop it and concentrate on my work, I chose music because at the time I just felt like I had already wasted five years of my life doing a job that my heart was not into. Sadly, I only made it as far as the top 6 stage,”.
For Mkhululi, the most traumatic thing was going back home knowing that he had lost a job, and also lost an opportunity to launch musical career. Life became harder and difficult for him upon particularly when he returned home empty-handed.
“The bills never stopped coming, within a few months I had hit rock bottom. It is then that I made a decision to make my way to South Africa to try and revive my dream of music. So, in 2009 I relocated to South Africa. Even then things did not get any easier. I had to spend yet another year hoping and praying for something good to happen to me,” he said.
“In 2010, just when I had literally lost all hope God stepped in and turned my life around. Ever since that day I have never looked back because I have experienced at firsthand how God can turn any man’s situation around. During my darkest hour friends were few and some people whom I really trusted turned their backs on me, they completely wrote me off and passed a verdict upon my life that nothing good could ever come out of me”.
“The God that I serve lived up to his promise. He has a way of using the most unlikely people for his purpose. There are many people who could have been taken in by Joyous Celebration but those people saw something in me that only God could reveal. I take my hat off to Lindelani Mkhize, the man who saw the best in me when even I could not find any good in myself. I literally cry each time I think of where the Lord my God has brought me from”.
“ As a person who had gotten so used to coming second best in everything, joyous celebration made me feel like a winner for the first time in my life and I thank God for this incredible journey that he has set me on. I will forever humble myself in the presence of my God for he has shown me that humbleness bears so much reward,” he said.
Mkhululi is the fourth child in family of four boys and two girls.
“Sadly we lost our eldest sister in 2004 so now only five of us remain. My dad passed away in 2002. I love my family so much and they mean the world to me,” he said.
He says he is forever grateful to his mum whom he describes as “pillar of my strength”. Mkhululi said he is blessed with an inspirational mother.
“She believes in me even when I stop believing in myself. When the world said I couldn’t make it, she chose to say I could and for that I will forever be grateful. I was just an ordinary child while growing up, I was so brilliant with my school work but never did I ever think for one day that I would one day stand to minister with one of the best musical groups in Africa (Joyous Celebration),”