Dr Shadreck Tanyanyiwa Correspondent
I read about the passing on of Air Chief Marshal (rtd) Perrance Shiri on the night of Wednesday July 29, while scanning through The Herald online news.
From my Diaspora stand point, it’s a daily habit to scan at least twice a day through different online news services such as the ZBC (my former employer), and The Herald.
Earlier, in the morning I had seen something on YouTube about his driver succumbing to Covid-19, but didn’t pay much attention, because of the questionable source. However, reality struck in the evening. Around 21:00hrs, I was going through my evening round of online news when, I saw in The Herald BREAKING NEWS: ‘Minister Shiri dies.’ To confirm the news, I went to ZBC online, and indeed it was true, Air Chief Marshal (rtd) Shiri had died.
People would remember Air Chief Marshal (rtd) Perence Shiri differently. I am not apologetic for my own way of remembering a humble, hard-working, dedicated, tough, no nonsense but somewhat flamboyant gentleman.
I got to know of the late ACM (Air Chief Marshal), in Bindura where I was working for the ZBC from 1997 to 1999. ACM by then had a thriving farm in Matepatepa, once a preserve of the whites. Of all the crops he grew, ‘commander’ as some people loved to call him, gave me plants of chillies — known as the Zimbabwe birds eye. That chilli was very, very hot. Those who have tasted Nali from Malawi might understand. I still grow the chillies.
We normally met on Fridays at Reef Hotel or Bindura Country Club. It was customary for ACM to drive every Friday after work to his farm. When we met for the first time, I addressed him like everyone else did, ‘Chef’. But he called me aside and asked, “How do you address, your brother Misheck?” He was referring to late my brother Major-General Misheck Tanyanyiwa, popular known in the defence and security circles by his liberation war name “Black Moses.” My answer to that question was, ‘Mukoma’.
“Then that’s how you address me,” he said.
Since then, I called ACM Mukoma, and indeed he was my brother. From that day we bounded to the extent that most Fridays that he would drive to the farm, he would pass through my house for supper. We lived in a ZBC apartment, in town. His favourite dish was sadza with beef knuckle bones or pork bones mixed with vegetables. He never went for any fancy food.
From afar, one could see a serious man, but the man could laugh. He was a just a simple man. If you would meet him in Bindura on a Saturday, he never looked anything that matched his rank.
However, during some national events, when he discarded his air force fatigues, he was quite a flamboyant dresser. After a national event in Harare, he would drive to Bindura, and would ‘show off’ his suits and shoes to me. He always described his suits and shoes as ‘light as a feather’, and indeed, one could actual feel that lightness.
Zimbabwe has lost a man, who possessed unique work ethics and a unifier.