Cabdilaahi Maxamed Maxamuud known as Cabdilaahi Qarshe was in born the outskirts of Moshi, Tanganyika (letter on Tanzania) in 1924. He had four brothers and one sister. His father was a trader and a Businessman in East Africa. He was regarded as frugal and fortune businessman. Originally he migrated from Sanaag region, Somalia. In that time men used to travel to East Africa for work and better lives.
Qarshe was a nickname of Abdallah’s father. Mohamed’s family hailed from Maydh district, they were respected as shrine keepers of sheikh Ishaaq. They were involved the fish industry, exportation of livestock and hides to Gulf of Aden. Cabdilaah’s father was died 1931. And his mother refused to be married to her brother in law who lived with them. Abdilahi said in an interview, “my father died in 1931 and my mother refused to marry my father’s brother, who lived in Tanzania with us, so she sold all the family’s property so that we could move back to Somaliland.”
They stayed in Aden for a while then they moved to Maydh by boat and from there to Cerigabo by road. After two years they returned Aden. Cabdilahi’s first engagement was to learn the Koran. He used to go to Madrasa (Koran teaching school) in Aden. In Tanzania he had been home schooled. For while as he mentions in an interview he lost interest in the Koran. He was attracted to British schools. His Mather the late Dahabo Hersi married his uncle in Aden. The late Cabdulaahi Qarshe went to British Schools and later on he completely become bored with learning. He got involved in watching Indian films and music. He had an interest for music.
During world war two, the British Authority established a radio station. The three foreign languages that broadcasted were Somali, Arabic and Hindi. Each had half an hour airtime. Arabic and Hindi music programmes were included but Somali music programmes were not included. Instead of Music, Somali classical poetry was used and took the remainder of the time.
This event was the one that triggered, pushed and empowered Abdallahi to ignite Somali unique music. He said “When Arabs visited Somali cafes they would ask them, “don’t you have your own music?””. He realised that Arabic music incorporated some of the Indian melody, he thought that he could do the same.
One day he saw a man in the market buying a lute and he wanted to buy one too. When he got enough money to buy, he went to seller and bought it. After acquiring the lute Abdallahi was faced with another challenge; where will he can put the lute? He said that his family was very religious so he could not carry his lute home. He got an idea, he put the lute in his friend’s box in their home so if his family discovered the lute he could claim the lute was not his.
When Cabdilaahi left, his friend collected the box then he gave the lute to him in Aden airport. When he arrived in Hargeisa he stayed with his family friend Mahamed Arale. As he mentioned. Somali genre balwo (Songs) has been progressing and making impact to the urban population. The first Somali song sang by Cabdi Sininmo was in 1940.
He was driving a lorry from Saila to Borama, the car punctured between two towns, near Banka Giriyad. Cabdi and his assistants pushed the car under a big tree and when it was being reapaired Cabdi remembered his love Khadijah. He composed the first Somali song in modern form which had melody. Balwo is the name of the type of song.
Abdilahali said “there were only a few musicians and they were either Arabs or Indians inspired by the new Somali genre of the belwo. There were two main characters: Ina Beenaale, an Indian, and Abdo Yusuf, a Yemeni. They played basic instruments, the most important being the violin. They invited me to join them, so I did, but I was not yet really proficient in playing.” They were using poetry lyrics to make soft melody. Abdilahi wanted to make money so he used his skills, he applied for a clerical vacancy position for the British colonial administration. He was transferred to Burao. Fortunately he got a teacher who could help him with the basics of playing the lute. He said that he agreed with Mr. Bakri to teach him to play the lute and he would give him a Kat in exchange for the lessons. Abdulahi become the first Somali musician and composer. He had a talent in composing songs, in making melody, playing the lute and writing plays.
The first song he composed was ka kacaay ” wake up” as result of the transferring of District Commissioner (NFD) Mr. Reeca also known as Kamakama in Somali to Somaliland, Hargeisa. They were told that Mr. Reeca had been an oppressive colonial character.
The late Qarshe participated in nationalism mobilisation. He improved Somali art. He composed the first song in Somali BBC 1957. The first play he perfumed was Cabara iyo Ceebla and Isa Seeg. It was easy for him to compose a melody. Most of Somali Qaaraami songs were created by him. After independence he moved to Mogadishu. He was there until the Somali civil war. Then he went to Djibouti. Later he moved to London. The Late Abdulaahi Qarshe, the father of Somali music, the composer, the play writer, and the Somali nationalist died in 1997 in London and was buried in Hargeisa. May he rest in peace.