Somaliland: Hopes Dashed, Rising Music Star Turns to Washing Cars


Abdisalam Muhumad Kamil had high hopes of becoming a rising star in music.

The tenor of his voice, the catching lyrics, the original music and the appealing moves he conveyed his feelings with touched thousands of hearts, earning him fans far and wide.

That was five years back. That was Jigjiga of the Somali State of Federal Ethiopia.

The rising curve of his budding career suddenly took a downturn. He got into trouble with some of his friends falling afoul of the law in the same city which was shaping up his future.

Amran” was one of his greatest hits – a song that promised him the world on a silver platter. He recorded it, then, with a young band he and few friends of his recorded. Towards the end of the footage, the band sings its hopes of climbing to stardom in Hargeisa.

Arrested, broken and despairing of recapturing his earlier popularity, he fled to Hargeisa, in the neighbouring, independent but internationally unrecognized Republic of Somaliland two years back.

He hoped that music greats such as the famous Abdiweli Furinle of Furinle Studios would soon put him on the road. He hoped stars such as Mursal Hussein would pull him into the Horn Stars (Xiddigaha Geeska) and, soon enough, he would be fully back on his feet.

That was not to be.

“I did not find the welcoming hand I expected of Abdiweli and other brothers in the music world,” he said speaking to Saab TV in December 2019.

“I hoped that Hargeisa, the mother of Somali music and the maker pr breaker of rising stars would revive the broken thread of my career,” he said.

It was not to be.

In the Hargeisa of today and now, Abdisalam had to turn to wash cars to make ends meet: to eat and pay rent of his lean-to room which he called home.

“In any given day, you just barely cover the day’s needs or get turned away by car owners not sure if they could entrust their vehicles with a shabbily-dressed perfect stranger,” he said looking and sounding the pinch. “Shooing you away is a lot easier for most drivers”.

Since that interview, Abdisalam’s music seems to be picking up again.

He recorded the song below soon afterwards – about three weeks ago.

Abdisalam recorded ‘Nacab’ (heartless) – some calling it ‘Nasiib” – luck. Abdullahi Gahnug wrote it, Digaale Yare on Keyboard, Ibrahim Bile adding the lyrics. Abdiweli Furinle obviously played some role in the production as he is among those thanked at end of the recording. What part the famous musician-producer played in the production is not clear, though.

The other is called ‘Erigavo‘, produced by Eryal TV two weeks ago.

Abdisalam’s fate is, however, still precariously balanced between the two worlds.




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