Howaida was born in 1946 in Dai Zangi of then Hazarajat province of
Afghanistan where his father was a government official. After the
birth of Zahir, his father moved his family to Kabul and thereafter
transferred to the city of Mazar i Sharif in the Balkh
province of Nothern Afghanistan.
While in Mazar i Sharif, Zahir Howaida enter the first grade at the
Sultan Ghiassuddin Elementary school in 1953.
The same year Zahir's father passed away at the young 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 it's arts and
the age of 13, Zahir's family moved to Booksellers Avenue of Kabul
and subsequently entered Isteqlal High School, earning the highest
ranking 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. He worked
part-time at an assistant to a cobbler to earn money for his family.
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
Upon graduating high school, Zahir attended Institute of Theatre and
Arts of Kabul and joined the Kabul Armature Orchestra lead by Fazel
Ahmad Zekria Naynawaz along with his brother Kabir Howaida, Aziz
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 such a short notice. Hamid Estemadi who had a great voice
but did not sing publicly 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 Laila mah man
shoda shaida and Ay mo telaie are composition of Mas'hoor Jamal.
Zahir Howaida 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
Majority of Zahir Howaida'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 artist 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.
Zahir after the fall
of the republic of Afghanistan into the hands of the Marxist
communist regime 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.
Towards the end of the communist regime, Zahir Howaida was banned
from national media and 16 of his songs recorded were locked in
archives. He left music and opted to go into restaurant business and
when his business venture failed, he opted for migration to India.
After the fall of the communist government in Kabul Zahir and his family
moved to Germany. He toured the world with stops on 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". He reasoning for not recording new
songs was that he had nothing new to offer but opted to listen.
Zahir Howaida's brother is Kabir Howaida, a renowned piano player. His
songs Arash Howaida and Qais Howaida are also following the footsteps
of their father into the music scene with their own style of music
Zahir Howaida passed away and was buried in Hamburg Germany on march
7th 2012 at the age of 67.