Yellow Dove opens up about mental health struggles, church abandonment

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FOR 16 years, Zambian Gospel artiste and promoter Antonio Mwanamuke, better known as Yellow Dove, has been a pillar in the gospel music industry.

With hits like “What Would Jesus Do,” “Madobi Dobi,” “Jumpa,” and “Aseluke,” he has inspired many.

However, Yellow Dove recently revealed a darker chapter of his life, sharing his struggles with mental illness and the lack of support he received from the church during his most vulnerable times.

Yellow Dove’s new single, “Flowers,” has sparked widespread discussion. While some speculate it might be a diss track aimed at fellow gospel artistes or churches, the song is, in fact, a heartfelt message about mental health awareness and the importance of appreciating people while they are still alive.

“They only love you when you’re gone, give you flowers when you’re gone,” he sings, criticising the superficial love shown after one’s passing.

“Why can’t you love me while I’m here? It’s just on paper. When I die you’re a brother’s keeper? The industry is gospel but we are not united, we built these little camps while we are divided.”

In an interview with Kalemba, Yellow Dove disclosed that years ago, he was diagnosed with a mental illness that forced him to drop out of the University of Zambia (UNZA).

“I lost friends, deals, and got discriminated against. I didn’t know who I was or where I was at the time of the illness. I would take off my clothes in public, I was very suicidal, and at times, violent. Some people judged me, saying it was drugs until one day I just woke up and miraculously, I was able to reason and think,” he recounted.

The illness and subsequent depression led to his exclusion from key gospel events.

“The biggest church in Matero would even remove me from posters,” he lamented. Despite this, the idea for “Flowers” persisted in his mind until he finally recorded and released it, finding solace in speaking out.

Yellow Dove explained that his song’s message transcends the gospel music industry, touching on universal themes of neglect and posthumous appreciation.

“This song is a reminder for me and others to give flowers to people while they’re still alive,” he said.

“Often, we get so busy with life that we forget to sit down, smell the roses, and celebrate our life or someone else’s.”

He emphasised the need for churches to better understand mental health and to support rather than abandon those in need.

“I am not trying to fight the church, but a lot of people have been hurt by it,” he stated. “It’s important that the church realises that and treats people better, from an angle of love and not discrimination, regardless of one’s status or whether they give tithe.”

Yellow Dove recalled the bitterness and hurt he felt from being shunned by the church but shared how he managed to let go of these feelings.

“Let’s take care of people who are mentally disturbed, pray for them, stand with them, and above all, show them love. I still remember the people who showed me love the most and those who discriminated against me. It’s just by God’s grace that I was able to move on.”

Despite his past struggles, Yellow Dove continues to produce music, releasing a new video titled “Wakuleka Fye” today.

His journey serves as a powerful testament to resilience and the need for compassion and support within the community.

By Buumba Mwitumwa

Kalemba, May 16, 2024

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