Can you imagine wearing only one colour every day for three and a half decades? Abou Zakkour, a 68-year-old man from the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo has become known as the Yellow Man after wearing only yellow for the last 35 years.
The story of the Yellow Man of Aleppo started on January 25, 1983, when Abou Zakkour made the decision to only wear yellow because in his eyes the colour represented love. It’s unclear what he did with his old wardrobe, but from that day forward, Zakkour only wore yellow garments, including underwear and accessories like neckties and hats, as well as yellow footwear. Even his umbrella and smartphone cover are yellow. And when he couldn’t find something to match his attire, he simply took a bottle of yellow nail polish and painted the differently-coloured item to fit his Yello Man persona.
“For me, the yellow colour represents love and something no one has ever done and no one even endures,” the Yellow Man of Aleppo recently told Chinese news agency Xinhua. “I believe no one in the world can wear yellow for 35 years, day and night, indoors and outdoors.”
“Wearing another colour would make me feel off-beat and strange because I am wearing yellow for 35 years and it’s a long time. I cannot even have any different colour within my yellow attire,” Zakkour added.
Apparently, many items in his small apartment in the Maari neighbourhood of Aleppo are yellow as well, including the tablecloth on his kitchen table, the bed sheets and even the trashcan. The colour yellow has been such a big part of his life over the last three and a half decades that he can’t help but surround himself with it.
The Yellow Man of Aleppo had become a well-known figure in the Syrian city and a symbol of peculiarity before the civil war turned into a war zone, but then everything changed. Because he continued to walk the streets of his city in his iconic yellow garb and stuck out like a sore thumb, people spread all kinds of rumours about him. Some said he was an informer for Bashar al Asad’s regime or that he was a pimp, while others associated his yellow clothes with ISIS or Al-Qaeda.
In a heartbreaking video that went viral in 2013, members of the Syrian Liberation Army can be seen beating and tormenting the Yellow Man of Aleppo, asking him where his allegiance lied, or why he wore yellow. Zakkour can be heard telling his tormentors that he only owns yellow clothes, but that doesn’t seem to matter to them.
After seeing how the Liberation Army treated Abou Zakkour 5 years ago, many were surprised that he survived the civil war. In a recently published photo feature, he can be seen walking the streets of Aleppo in his signature yellow clothes, once again putting a smile on people’s faces.
“When I walk down the street or go to crowded places, people would smile and take photos with me. Many people stop to talk to me and joke with me and I think it’s called love,” this living, breathing legend of Aleppo told Xinhua, adding that he will never wear another colour but yellow for as long as he lives.
I have a feeling that the Yellow Man of Aleppo and the Green Lady of Brooklyn would really hit it off. After all, they’ve both been obsessed with a single colour for several decades and are considered icons of the cities they live in.