Peter Dawo: The man, the myth, the legend reflects on glory days

Peter Dawo

Gor Mahia legend Peter Dawo (left) gets some tips from President Daniel arap Moi ahead of Gor’s 1987 Mandela Cup final against Esperance of Tunisia in Nairobi

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Recently he has accompanied me to watch Gor Mahia matches and it is always been fulfilling to watch the team that he played for,” says Tony.
  • Dawo currently works for the County government of Kisumu and acts a liaison for their football team, Kisumu All Stars.

Born in 1964 in Kericho, Peter Dawo is considered one of the legends of the game who donned both the Harambee Stars and Gor Mahia jerseys.

His exploits on the football field - his ability to soar into the air and head home goals in particular – endeared him to his legion of fans at club and country.

“Omuga,” as fans at his club side Gor Mahia used to call him, hoisted the Kenyan league giants to the dizzy heights of African football when he led “K’Ogalo” to victory in the 1987 Mandela Cup, known today as the Caf Confederation Cup.

He scored in both legs of the two-legged final against Tunisia’s Esperance in Tunis and at Kasarani.

This is so far the only trophy victory by a Kenyan club in continental club football.

Peter Dawo

Peter Dawo is carried by his own momentum into the Esperance goal after he scored his historic goal while skipper Austin Oduor (number 6) raises his hands in jubilation.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Dawo was a regular feature in Harambee Stars’ striking force and his Mandela Cup exploits landed him a contract at Egyptian giants Arab Contractors in 1990.

He attended Kimugu Primary School in Kericho County where tea farmers’ children schooled and that is where his love for football started.

While in grade six his parents moved to Kisumu and he joined Arya Primary School. He later sat for his CPE in 1977 and joined St. Mary’s School Yala for his O levels. He later completed his 6th form in Green Fields in Kitale in 1985.

‘Making of Peter Dawo’

In 1986, he joined Railway Training School, today known as Railway Training Institute where he pursued a clerical course.

“My love for football started back in Kimugu Primary School and I started out as a goalkeeper. When we moved to Kisumu and I went to Arya Primary School, the Indians were not into football and so I joined hockey. My love for football followed me when I joined high school” he recently told NTV in an interview for the documentary The Making Of Peter Dawo which airs on the station from 8pm tonight.

“While in form three, I was selected to represent the school team and played as a striker and not a goalkeeper this time. We won several football competitions in Siaya. I also played for other lower league teams while still in high school that helped me have more experience and understanding of the beautiful game. I played for Siaya United and Yala Teachers in the Provincial League.

Playing for parastatals

“While playing for the Railways team in 1986, we featured in the KICOSO games in Meru and I emerged top striker in the tournament.

Peter Dawo

Peter Dawo during the interview in Kisumu.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

“I was lucky to meet most Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards players who were playing for parastatals like KPA, Kenya Airways, Ministry Of Works and so on. After the competition is when I joined Gor Mahia in 1986 after some of the players noticed my talent.”

The father of two adds that he was privileged to meet players like Sammy Jogoo Onyango and John Bobby Ogolla. The duo were playing for both Poster Rangers and Gor Mahia respectively.

They suggested his name to then Gor Mahia team manager, the late Ouma who approached Dawo and persuaded him to join Gor Mahia.

“I settled well in the team and scored many goals for the side. My most memorable football moment was when we won the Caf Club Championships, popularly known as Mandela Cup back in 1987. In the Semi-finals we played against “The Dragons” in Benin and we drew 1-1. Two weeks later, we played the return leg match at the Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi. We were tied at 2-2 and on the brink of elimination due to the away goals rule.

The fans started leaving the stadium. In the 90th minute, fortunately the ball got out and Tobias Ocholla threw a long balI into the box and I scored the winning header and we were through to the finals.

The fans came back to the stadium celebrating and chanting.

Today players do it for money, during our time we played for passion,” recalls Dawo.

“Football today has become a full-time business. During our time, we loved football whether the manager fielded you or not. Today I see players sabotaging matches if their playing conditions are poor or if the cheque does not come on time.

“Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards’ rivalry has always been the best because it brings out the best competition among players. As much as I enjoyed playing against AFC Leopards, I also enjoyed playing against Ministry of Works which had very good players. Another good side to play against was the Breweries today commonly known as Tusker FC.

The fans also expected so much from me because when I wasn’t fielded, their expectations were low. Luckily, I scored in all the games I played and especially the most crucial matches.

Tony Dawo, Dawo’s only son adds that he is very proud of his father despite not seeing his father play back in the days.

“It feels great and it’s such an honor to hear fans call my dad’s name in the streets whenever we are together.

“Unfortunately, my peers do not recognize my dad as they were not born during his glory days. When I joined high school, I played football for one year but gained more interest in basketball. I have inherited my dad’s dribbling skills and scored many goals with my head just like my father.

Recently he has accompanied me to watch Gor Mahia matches and it is always been fulfilling to watch the team that he played for,” says Tony.

Dawo currently works for the County government of Kisumu and acts a liaison for their football team, Kisumu All Stars.

The Making Of Peter Dawo documentary airs on the station from 8pm tonight on NTV