From Laborer In Lyari to Coke Studio – Nabeel Ahmad’s Inspirational Journey

Karachi’s under-privileged Lyari’s image has been plagued by deprivation and high crime rate for as long as we can remember. But it is also known for its football. And now it will also be known for Nabeel Ahmad.

Starting off as a daily labourer, with absolutely zero resources but the tool of his passion, Nabeel Ahmad made his way to nation’s biggest platform, Coke Studio. He was introduced as an artist, an extremely talented drummer in the song Hawa Hawa.

Hailing from Lyari, being the youngest in the family of 10, in the atmosphere of poverty and crime, Nabeel found his solace in music and football. As soon as he hit teens, he started working as a labourer in a wholesale market, just like his father. He unloaded sacks of sugar and grain being sold in the market and was paid only 4 rs per sack for this physically demanding work.

“I get paid Rs 4 per sack. This means, if I lift 100 bags on a good day, I make Rs400” he said. He added that the money was insufficient to make his ends meet, but at least it was coming.

After his day went in draining physical work, his second job was more close to his heart because it was affiliated with art and music. He worked as a Leva dancer. Leva dance is similar to African tribal dance. Wearing beautiful and bright silk dresses, Nabeel performed alongside a group of dancers. His troupe earns between 3000 to 5000 when invited to a wedding, but it is what he genuinely enjoys doing. He said he can’t get a formal job because he doesn’t have an education but he turned his passion into a profession.

”The troupe has become so popular that it has even traveled to Oman and other Gulf states, where there is a large Balochi population, to perform, besides being commissioned by the government to perform alongside international artists in cultural ceremonies in Islamabad and Lahore.” – he added speaking to a local news source.

But this is not all. Nabeel also works as a coach and is training 25 children from Lyari, Gabol Park between 9 pm and 10 pm these days. He is not an ordinary coach but indeed known for his expertise. He trained over 40 kids last year, some of them were also selected for the under-10 tournament in Qatar. With his savings, he also buys foods and supplements for his children to help them meet their nutritional needs. 

They surely are people like Nabeel who reinstate our faith in people and humanity, while also in human resilience that no matter how hard the situation is, you can pave your way with your passion.

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