Zimbabwe: Remembering a Liberation War Enigma

Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Perrance Shiri, who died aged 65 at a Harare hospital, has been described by some as a liberation struggle enigma.

Shiri, born Bigboy Samson Chikerema became Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister in President Mnangagwa administration after former President Robert Mugabe resigned in a 2017 power transition.

He lived a private life.

He lost his only known son Titus Takudzwa (Tito) Chikerema who died in 2013, aged 21.

Shiri also known as Black Jesus, is a veteran of Zimbabwe liberation struggle, who earned several medals including Grand Commander of the Zimbabwe Order of Merit.

Shiri attended Mt St Mary’s School in Wedza up to Ordinary level before he left to join the liberation war struggle in 1973 under ZANLA alongside his pal Vice President General (Rtd) Constantino Dominic Guvheya Chiwenga.

After the war in 1980, joined the military and later briefly assumed control of the 5th Brigade.

He served with distinction as a commander until 1986, when he was granted a place to study in London at the Royal College of Defence Studies.

He led the war effort against governments in DRC and Mozambique, where he received other commendations for his dedication and bravery.

In 1992, Shiri was appointed as the commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe.

He held a Master of Science in Development Studies degree from the Women’s University in Zimbabwe.

Shiri who was also a farmer in Shamva, was shot on December 13, 2008, during an ambush on the way to his farm.

The European Union barred Shiri from entering the EU and on March 6, 2003, George W. Bush ordered the blocking of any of Shiri’s property in the United States.

The discipline and patriotism Minister Shiri learned during the liberation war and post-independence service never left him, as friends and those who knew him will attest.

Gift K Mawire is a PhD researcher at Kent Business School. He previously studied at Royal centre for Defence Medicine and Oxford University in UK.

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