Mohammed Murshid Naji A Journey with Patriotic Songs [Archives:1998/03/Culture]

January 19 1998

Mohammed Murshid Naji is a great Yemeni artist who is considered to be one the most prominent pioneers of the patriotic song in Yemen. Naji’s songs proved to be a great inspirational factor for the Yemeni people during the 1950s revolutionary movement against British colonialism and the tyrannical Imamate regime. The patriotic song at that time was an effective way of getting Yemenis to get involved in national causes. It motivated them to fight for freedom and liberation. Mohammed Murshid Naji is endowed with a rich and creative artistic personality. His unique talent has distinguished him from other artists and played a role in spreading Yemeni songs through the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf region. He has written two books during his artistic journey; ‘Our Folk Songs’ in 1959 and ‘Famous Personalities in Old and Modern Yemeni Singing’ in 1978. Naji started his journey with patriotic songs in the 1950s. Also at that time, Abdullah Hadi Sobeit of Lahaj started writing poems and lyrics and setting them to music to later become a famous composer and song writer. Naji had a very high opinion of Abdullah Hadi Sobeit who ardently supported Arab national issues. They formed a musical duo. Sobeit later composed a poem commemorating the ‘Million Martyrs Revolution’ in Algeria. He wrote, “Oh, fully armed, dawn has come out, start fighting, the time of subservience has passed.” Naji’s patriotic influence on the Yemeni people was felt during the 1950s, well before the revolution. His songs were enhanced by his sincere feelings and melodious voice, which made the people passionately attach to his way of singing. Naji faced numerous problems due to his stance against colonialism and his direct revolutionary influence on the Yemeni people. In spite of the mistreatment he received at the hands of colonialists, he zealously continued with his patriotic call. The number of lyrical poems increased as did national awareness. Then came the late Lutfi Jaafar Aman, Yemen’s celebrated poet, who conveyed sincere expressions and crystallized the national feeling. That was before the declaration of the republic in the north on September 26th and the revolution of the south on October 14, 1963. Lutfi Jaafar Aman wrote a poem entitled “Oh, My Brother They Shackled Me,” which was set into a song by Naji. The people responded to this song with intense enthusiasm. He knew for certain that the revolution would break out and the people who suffered from the woes of colonialism would be free one day. Thus our two poets achieved great success in creating these everlasting patriotic songs. On the outbreak of the September 26th Revolution in 1962 in the north, he composed a song entitled ‘Yateir Yaramadi’ which means oh gray bird. So the Imamate regime came to an end in the north while the Yemeni people were at their revolutionary peak. They had paved the way for the south to liberate themselves from colonialism. The nationalists and the people were ready for the revolution. The October 14th revolution broke out in the Radfan Hills, which forced the British colonialists to evacuate and declare independence of the south on November 30, 1967. Thus, our people lead a different and improved life and their hopes of unification were brought to life under the leadership of Marshal Ali Abdullah Saleh. Blessing be upon our great Yemeni artist Mohammed Murshid Naji and our other artists and writers for their patriotic lyrics and songs. We urge Marshal Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Ministry of Culture to give these artists, musicians and men of letters who have struggled for the Yemeni cause, their rights and honor them.
By: Abo Osama