Friday 18 June 2021
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Pohamba Shifeta – not the one you thought you knew

Who is Pohamba Shifeta ?
I was born in Ongenga village in the Ohangwena Region and most people called me Penomwenyo at school which they shortened it to “Peno”. If someone calls me Peno, I know I was at school with them or at least I knew them during my time at NANSO.

What do you remember about school ?
I was a naughty boy as I was always inventing new things. One day something comical took place where we belittled a teacher. We used paper to make an arrow and put it in the belt and made a tail of it (it looked so funny). Then the kids started laughing and when he went outside, the other teachers also started laughing and then they told him what happened. The principal came and threatened that everyone will be beaten and in the process we were beaten very badly with the girls taking their punishment on their hands and the boys on our behinds. When it came to my turn, I took a hardcover book and put in my pants at the back. With the first whip, it sounded funny and so with the second whip people started laughing. Even the principal thought it was funny and so everyone got off who did not get their hiding.

Did you have a best friend?
My friends were not in my class. My friends are generally older than me, at least 5 to 6 years older. I didn’t have one friend, I always had a group of friends. I always felt it was better to hang with older people because they saw me as their younger brother and always wanted me to succeed. I did have not competitive friendships and that benefited me a lot. For some strange reason, my age mates always struggled to connect with me. For me, it was survival of the fittest. Friends your age want you to fight and the older guys would fight for you.

Did you have a funny habit as a child ?
I used to love sugar, a day could not pass without me eating sugar, I would even add it to jam. Therefore at school I was always a boss because I always had my own stock of sugar. I would send others to do my chores for me because I had sugar. My parents would beat me and finally at age 17 I stopped taking sugar and now I don’t take sugar at all.

When did political awareness come to you?
I was oriented by my father who educated us about the occupying forces. We were restricted from any association whatsoever with SWATF as they were everywhere and he stated “no one from my house must go there.” No one from our house joined, even if you ate a brown biscuit given by SWATF or you were part of the kids who climbed in their cars you were told they are the enemy.

Who inspired your sense of dress?
My father was a very neat man and a gentleman so he would check how you make your bed and how clean your shoes are. He believed that If your bed is disorganized it portrays your life. He would do daily inspections and we couldn’t wait for him to go back to CDM (Namdeb) which is where he worked.

My grandfather was one of the first principals in that area. He was trained by the Finnish to preach in church and he was a teacher by profession. He served as principal from 1935 until he passed on.

When I look at his pictures from the 1930s, that’s how he used to be. Teachers those years were exemplary so all of us wanted to become a teacher or a pastor. We did not know what a lawyer, engineer or permanent secretary was, but we looked up to teachers and the way they dressed. Inspectors would even come to inspect their dress code.

My father and grandfather were very strict. My father has only two sisters and he was in between the two ladies. His dad loved him so much. When I look at his pictures in the 50’s, I think fashion is just revolving.

Do you spend a lot of money on clothes ?
I don’t buy what I don’t need. I buy what is unique because I know what I want. My clothes are not expensive. I dress simply and at a reasonable price. The most I will spend on a suit is N$ 4000. I have a designer and he manages to make my suits for below N$ 2000. Because I travel a lot I also am able to buy really good fabric. My dress sense can really be summed as comfort driven– I like it to be classy but simple in the way I appear.

How do you relate to women?
I am old school so I was brought up to never beat up a woman – a man who does so is a coward. Also I have never experienced that at home. I don’t even enjoy quarrelling so I prefer kindness otherwise why are you together ?

What perfumes do you use ?
I use normal stuff as long as it has no alcohol in its content. I have a skin allergy- so I use an expensive cologne.

You appear like a very neat person ?
Yes, because I have a dust allergy. I react almost immediately to it, especially with air-conditioning in cars.

Do you cook ?
I don’t really have time to do any domestic chores but when I was young I used to. Before I had kids, I would look for a recipe, go and shop for the ingredients and cook up a storm. I enjoy nice food especially fish.  I don’t eat a lot of meat, just some game every now and then.

Do you have an exercise regime ?
I go religiously to the gym – it’s a priority that I plan for, so I manage about 3-4 times weekly.

Why did you become a lawyer ?
Back in the day especially during the height of the liberation struggle, black lawyers were few.  In 1988, I was arrested along with Chief Ankama who was my teacher, John Liebenberg and Jeremia Nambinga. I was exposed to the cold and I almost got bronchitis as I was exposed to the cold. With only a short sleeve shirt during winter, Tate Jeremia Nambinga offered me his jacket.  During the time of my imprisonment I was also beaten up badly, so I was taken to the hospital.  I remember us looking for lawyers to have us released and when the lawyers came eventually, they stopped beating us. That is when I remember I got interested in the legal profession.

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