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  • Michael Chalk

Unveiling Perrance Shiri: A Complex Figure in Zimbabwean History

In my recent research journey delving into the sequel to "The Unravelling," I stumbled upon a name that piqued my curiosity – Perrance Shiri. His name, strikingly unique, led me down a path of discovery about a notorious figure whose roots are intertwined intimately with the political dynasty of Zimbabwe. Notably, he was a cousin of Robert Mugabe, a familial tie that likely contributed to the implicit trust Mugabe vested in him. This close relationship sheds light on Shiri's rapid ascent through the ranks, as Mugabe often relied on him for strategic counsel and execution.

Born in 1955 as Bigboy Samson Chikerema, he emerged as a prominent figure during the Rhodesian Bush War, serving as a field commander with ZANLA, a guerrilla force aligned with Robert Mugabe's faction. His role extended to senior military instruction at the ZANLA/ZIPRA training camp in Morogoro, Tanzania.

The turning point in Shiri's legacy came in 1983 when Mugabe appointed him as the inaugural commander of the infamous Fifth Brigade. This brigade, a product of a covert agreement between Mugabe and North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, was designed not for conventional warfare but as a tool for suppressing political dissent. Shiri's leadership marked the beginning of a dark chapter known as the Gukurahundi campaign, a brutal crackdown on perceived dissidents, particularly targeting the Ndebele population. The campaign, veiled in euphemism and 'spin', resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and has been characterized as genocide.

Shiri's tenure as commander of the Fifth Brigade earned him a reputation for ruthless brutality, earning him the moniker "Black Jesus" for his perceived authority over life and death. Despite the atrocities committed under his command, including multiple allegations of murder, rape and torture, Shiri's career trajectory continued, shifting to the role of commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe and later overseeing Zimbabwean troops during the Second Congo War.

His involvement in orchestrating farm invasions, military assaults against illegal diamond miners in the east of Zimbabwe, and alleged participation in coup plots further cemented his controversial legacy. Despite his proximity to Mugabe and the trust bestowed upon him, Shiri's ambitions transcended mere loyalty. This became apparent in 2017 when he played a pivotal role in the Zimbabwean coup d'état that ousted Mugabe from power.

In the twilight of his career, Shiri assumed the role of Minister of Agriculture under President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Yet, his journey came to an unexpected end with his passing on July 29, 2020, succumbing to complications from COVID-19.

In summary, Perrance Shiri's life encapsulates the complexities of Zimbabwean history – from guerrilla warfare to political manoeuvring, from brutal repression to moments of transformation. His story, though fraught with controversy, remains an integral part of understanding the nation's turbulent past and uncertain future.





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28 févr.

There is more to this story than you detail. What of the small party that left St Mary's together and how their later careers intertwined?

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Michael Chalk
29 févr.
En réponse à

Dear Guest.

I would love to hear more. Why not expand on your opening line?

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21 févr.

He sounds like a right bastard!

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20 févr.
Noté 5 étoiles sur 5.

You have actually unveiled nothing. There is a lot of intricate details about this guy.

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19 févr.
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He was not a cousin of Robert Mugabe, neither was he related to him at all, you are publishing obvious falsehoods here, on the contrary, this decorated war time commander rose through the ranks in the hands of general Tongogara who saw his unique abilities when he was very young, are you aware that he Commanded Tete province at a young age of 18 years?? He exhibited true warrior instincts required in the bush war that ousted the naive Ian Douglass Smith, get your facts right before publishing please, otherwise we will doubt anything that you write.

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25 févr.
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Here here Mike

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19 févr.
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Start with his role in the struggle for the independence of his motherland, Zimbabwe

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