Zahir Howaida passed away at the age of 67
Afghan popular singer, Zahir Huwaida passed away in Germany at the age of 67 yesterday morning.
Mohammad Zahir Howida born in 1946 in Kohistan Afghanistan has been an active singer since 1970s and his popularity peaked with the hit “Kamar Bareek-e-man” the renditions of which are sampled by Iranian and Tajik singers.
Howida’s family moved to Kabul after Zahir’s birth and thereafter transferred to Mazar-e-Sharif, Northern city of Afghanistan.
While in Mazar i Sharif, Zahir Howida entered the first grade at the Sultan Ghiassuddin Elementary school in 1953. The same year Zahir’s father died at the age of 33 leaving behind Zahir, his brother and widowed mom. The family moved to Kabul where Zahir attended 2nd grade at the renowned Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan elementary school famous for its arts and humanities courses.
At the age of 13, Zahir’s family moved to Booksellers Avenue of Kabul and subsequently entered Isteqlal High School, earning the highest rank in his class. Zahir didn’t find school curriculum very interesting and often cut class to walk across the school to the public library and borrow books of his interest and read.
Zahir spent years at home with a huge kettle of tea, scissor print cigarettes and books about social and political issues. His favorite author was Maxim Gorky and favorite subject was socialism and social democratic ideas.
Upon graduating high school, Zahir attended Institute of Theatre and Arts of Kabul and joint the Kabul Armature Orchestra leaded by Fazel Ahmad Zekria Naynawaz along with his brother Kabir Howida, Rahim Mehryar, Rahim Jahani and more.
Zahir was a mandolin player and a backup singer for Akbar Ramish at the Isteqlal High school shows celebrating Afghanistan Day. Naynawaz encouraged Zahir to sing solo, but he didn’t find it suitable during the live show to sing at a short notice. Hamid Etemadi who had a great voice but did not sing in public since he was a member of the royal family encouraged Zahir to take his place at the Afghanistan Day show. Zahir was dragged on stage by Hamid and he sang his first song, but was faced with displeasure of the crowd. Moments later Zahir appeared in costume during a play and sang another song which delighted the audience and received an endurance of applause. At this orchestra Zahir showed immense talent as a vocalist and earned a scholarship to learn operatic and eastern classical music at Tchaikovsky institute in Moscow.
Upon his return to Kabul, Zahir began his musical career which brought him overnight success. He composed all his songs with exception of 4 songs which he often credits their original composers Ahmad Zahir and Mas’hoor Jamal. The songs Rasha dar dast baghban and Gar zolf preishanat are of Ahmad Zahir and Laili mah man shoda shaida and Ay mo telaie are composition of Mas’hoor Jamal.
Zahir howida toured Tajikistan, Iran, USSR, Europe and Americas. His song “Kamar Bareek” became an instant hit in Iran where for years after many Iranian singers covered the song in concerts and Iranian National TV.
Majority of Zahir Howida’s songs are political in nature and anti establishment. He often spoke out against the monarchy and the first president of Afghanistan Daud Khan. While all artists who wish to appear on National TV were authorized to sing in both Pashtu and Dari, Zahir refused to sing in Pashto claiming that whenever Ustad Awalmeer sings in Dari he will follow up with a song in Pashto.
After the fall of the republic of Afghanistan into the hands of the Marxist communist regime, Zahir found many opportunities in National Television and National Radio. He recorded most of his songs during this tenure, hosting a variety show on Television and radio.
After the fall of the communist government Zahir and his family moved to Germany. He toured the world with stops in North America, Europe and Australia for his farewell concert where he broke his vow and sang in Pasho. He followed the concert with the release of his final Album “Ay Kash”.
Zahir Howida’s brother is Kabir Howida, a renowned piano player. Arash Howida and Qais Howida are also following the footsteps of their father into the music scene with their own style of music fusion.