• December 8th, 2019

The untold story of multitalented Johannes Peter “Pele” Damaseb…noted political activist, academic, athlete and trendsetter



Namibia’s serial road accidents have not only claimed the precious lives of some of the country’s valuable citizens, it has also cut short the blossoming careers of dozens of local athletes, footballers in particular.
Those that spring to mind are; Doc Hardley, Ben Kauejao, Malaka Somseb, Britho Shipanga, Armstrong Anderson, Leo Koutondokwa, Kaputji Kuhanga, George Kasuto, Kaboy Shovaleka, Jesse Diergaardt, Tiwi Kaundje, Pablo Wermann, Bernard Diocothle, Geoffrey Zaahl, Tsetse Nerumbu, Patrick Jaegger, Richard Ventura, Don Shipanga and many others. Just as he was making serious inroads into what was previously a sacred area for none white medical practitioners in the north east part of Namibia, much adored energetic football playing medical doctor Peter Damaseb’s precious life was cut short by a horrific car accident between his hometown Grootfontein and Tsumeb. In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature, Tales of the Legends, profiling the sporting journeys of our national sporting heroes and heroines – New Era Sport brings to you our esteemed reader the untold story of the late Dr Johannes Peter “Pele” Damaseb, also known as “JP”.

GROOTFONTEIN – At first glance, the afro haired multitalented qualified medical doctor could be easily mistaken for an American pop star. 

Born and bred in the dusty streets of Omulunga Township in Grootfontein, young Peter Damaseb was like many other young boys in the neighbourhood - football crazy.

His genes dictated that he would become a formidable footballer of note, after all, elder brother Orlando and cousin Pieces Damaseb were already established in the business while equally dangerous nephew Steven Damaseb would follow suit in the intervening years keeping the family legacy alight. 

A product of the revered Cornelius Goraseb Secondary School in Khorixas in the vastly populated dry Kunene region – young “Pele” was not only a lethal goal-poacher, he was an ever present figure challenging the South African Apartheid system in particular the much hated Bantu Education.

He was at the forefront of the inevitable formation of the country’s first ever students representative organ, Namibia National Students Organization {Nanso} and was overwhelmingly elected its maiden president.  
Back in the day, most blacks were made to feel inferior to their white counterparts by the segregation apartheid system but students would have none of that. A brilliant young student who excelled in almost everything task he had ever laid his hands on Pele, was always destined for the big stage.

Despite his academic brilliance, the hard galloping stocky forward managed to combine schoolbooks, politics and football in one go.

JP was a regular starter for the school’s first team and would occasionally turned out for Khorixas outfit Black Eagles in the popular knockout cup tournaments and would also turn out for unfashionable youthful outfit Hunters in his native town. 

His arrival on the football scene coincided with the surprise emergence of Chelsea Football Club in domestic football. Pele rose to prominence when he joined Nomstosub outfit Chief Santos forming a dangerous combination with speedy winger Moses “Crooks” Casper, Celle Auchumeb and midfield genius Hannes Louw.

With the devastating quartet of the Damaseb cousins Orlando and Pieces and the equally dangerous Francis brothers Richo and Tiger, spearheading the dangerous Chelsea attack – young Pele was obliged to find temporary shelter elsewhere. He certainly found a suitable home in the shape of Chief Santos.
In the meantime, JP was not to be distracted from his academic aspirations and managed against all odds to qualify as a medical doctor at the revered Medical University of Southern Africa {Medunsa} holed up in Ga-Rankuwa, north west of Pretoria central, in the Gauteng Province, South Africa.

The adorable Namibian was a popular figure at the campus, driving the students’ agenda for equality in the education curriculum – vigorously advocating for the immediate abolishment of Bantu education.
The free coring afro haired striker was in the starting lineup alongside veteran twin striker Celle Auchumeb when Santos, reached the final of the annual Mainstay Cup in 1985. 

Unfortunately, the Copper town lads were no match for the Joseph Martin’s inspired Ramblers who swept their opponents aside to records the biggest win in the final of the prestigious competition’s history – emerging 4-0 victors.

Nonetheless, the stocky forward got some consolation a week later when he led the understrength South West Africa {SWA} side against the visiting Northern Cape side in the final of the biannual Impala Inter-Provincial Cup at the old Katutura stadium. The hosts won 2-0,

JP later left Santos to join forces with Katutura giants Black Africa when started working in Windhoek from varsity. Sadly, his flourishing journey was prematurely ended by a career ending tackle through the notorious right boot of departed Orlando Pirates robust defender Stimela Ndjao, leaving him with fractured ribs.  

Upon retirement from playing competitive football, Pele was roped in as team doctor for the emerging Brave Warriors under the shrewd stewardship of nephew Petrus Damaseb, juggling between his consulting rooms in his native Grootfontein and national duty.

As fate would dictate, his precious life journey was abruptly abbreviated by a horrific freak motor vehicle accident between Grootfontein and Tsumeb, on the 23rd of February 2003. Four other people perished instantly alongside the much-adored medical practitioner. 

A fairly young gorgeous lass, reportedly his then live in bird was amongst the casualties. May their combined souls rest in peace. 


Carlos Kambaekwa
2019-11-29 10:06:22 | 9 days ago

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