The Loveless, Fatherless, Stateless Generation: The Legacy Of ‘Black Jesus’ Perrance Shiri
Gukurahundi was an operation to wipe out the Matabeleland and Midlands
tribe in retaliation for voting against Zanu-PF in the 1980 elections.
Zanu-PF ideology is a one-party state.
The Loveless, Fatherless, Stateless Generation: This is The Legacy Of Rapist And Murderer, ‘Black Jesus’ Perrance Shiri
Written By Thandekile Moyo* 19 August 2020, all images and captions have been added by the Editor.
Perrance Shiri, born Bigboy Samson Chikerema, former commander of
the Fifth Brigade in Zimbabwe:
The death of Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Minister and a retired General who commanded the Air Force for 25 years until he joined the government in 2017, has robbed the people of Matabeleland of a chance to see justice delivered to the 5th Brigade Commander for his role in the Gukurahundi massacre of 20,000 Ndbele people.
A granny, probably in her 80s (the same age as my grandmother), whose five sons were killed in the Gukurahundi, became panic-stricken when she heard there was going to be an effort to compensate victims.
“Please bantwabami (my children),” she cried, “please don’t tell them I’m the mother of those boys, they will finish me off.”
New documents allege Mugabe’s complicity in 1980s massacres 
This is a generation whose children were killed by the Zimbabwe National Army’s 5th Brigade , many of them shot in front of them, some locked up in huts and burned alive, and some found dead in the bushes of Matabeleland. You would think many of these mothers and fathers would be baying for blood, demanding justice and eagerly awaiting compensation.
But no – 37 years later, many don’t want to be known.
They are still petrified of the army and live in fear of it coming back.
Reckoning nears for Mugabe’s Heirs 
This is the generation that doesn’t use the word Gukurahundi, the name given to the operation by the Zanu-PF government which left more than 20,000 civilians dead in Matabeleland. When explaining the slaughter, they do not say, “Gukurahundi killed us.” They are more explicit. They say, “Sasibulawa ngamasotsha” (it was soldiers who were killing us).
In the documentary “Gukurahundi Genocide: 36 Years Later”, by documentary filmmaker Zenzele Ndebele, a woman explained how the 5th
Brigade soldiers systematically raped her and other married women. She
explained that the soldiers would take them to their camps nightly, rape
them, and in the mornings order them to go back home to their husbands.
She must be about my mother’s age, meaning she was probably in her
twenties when the Gukurahundi was unleashed upon Matabeleland. In the
documentary, she says she is no longer with her husband. He probably
could not stomach it all.
This is the generation that was targeted during the Gukurahundi, the youth of the time. The women were raped. The pregnant ones had their bellies slit open and foetuses ripped out of their wombs – the rationale for this being that the soldiers could not allow the birth of any dissident children.
Zimbabwe: What Britain and the West Did – and Didn’t – Do During the
Matabeleland Massacres of 1983-4 
The men, our fathers, were killed in their dozens. They were accused of
being dissidents. Those that survived were “disappeared”, or taken to
camps where they experienced various forms of torture. Castration was a
favourite – to prevent the birth of more dissidents, apparently. The
majority of male survivors of the Bhalagwe torture camp  are
childless. They had their testicles crushed or electrocuted during their
There is the generation born in the ’70s, just before the Gukurahundi.
This is the generation that witnessed the rapes of our mothers and the
murders of our fathers. The generation of people who were too young to
be seen as a serious threat to the one-party state. They were not
directly targeted, but they saw it all. They saw their fathers and older
brothers dragged away by soldiers, never to be seen again. They
witnessed their uncles being beaten to a pulp. They survived when other
children were locked up in huts and set ablaze by the Zimbabwean army.
At a school in Tsholotsho, it was this generation that watched the
execution of seven of their teachers .
During the Gukurahundi, soldiers generally killed indiscriminately –
children, youths and the elderly were all murdered – but soldiers
targeted teachers and headmasters especially. The effects this had on
education in Matabeleland are still felt, 37 years later.
Then there is us. Our generation. Born during Gukurahundi. In the midst
of it all. We are the generation that was spared being ripped out of our
mothers’ wombs as foetuses. We are the generation that was not directly
affected by Gukurahundi, but have had to live with the scars all our
We are the generation that was raised by grandparents who had long since
died inside. We are the generation that was raised by Gukurahundi
survivors, most of them silently suffering from undiagnosed and
untreated post-traumatic stress disorder. We are the generation whose
parents were killed by the Zimbabwean National Army. We are the children
whose mothers were raped by soldiers of the Zimbabwe National Army .
Some of us are products of those rapes.
My generation is angry. We have never known love. Our parents and
guardians were broken beyond repair. And with their brokenness, they
broke us. Many of us are reminders of a painful past. Many of us are
products of unspeakable atrocities. We are the loveless, fatherless,
Statelessness. The tragedy of not belonging. Of not being registered.
You see, our parents died at the hands of the Zimbabwean government. To
cover up their crimes, and because many were simply disappeared, their
deaths were never registered. Because our parents were not awarded death
certificates, we have no birth certificates. Without a birth certificate
in Zimbabwe, one cannot go far with one’s education. Primary schools are
lenient, but one cannot sit for Grade 7 examinations without a birth
certificate. Thereby ends the educational journey of many children in
Matabeleland. Grade 7.
Without education, and with no industries to employ them in Zimbabwe, the only option available to many is to migrate to South Africa to look for jobs. Sadly, to do that one needs a passport, and without a birth certificate in Zimbabwe, one cannot get a passport. The available option for many under these circumstances is illegal emigration.
“Illegal immigrants” to South African readers. Amakwerekwere.
Unregistered and unrecognised in our countries of birth. Unwanted in our
countries of refuge. We are the generation that can never open a bank
account. We cannot take out insurance policies. Officially, we do not
Because of our statelessness, our children are stateless. Like us, they
will be uneducated. Like us, if they migrate, they can only be illegal
migrants. The cycle is vicious.
Gukurahundi was an operation to wipe out the Matabeleland and Midlands
tribe in retaliation for voting against Zanu-PF in the 1980 elections. Zanu-PF ideology is a one-party state. When they lost the Matabeleland vote to the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), they decided to eliminate the ZAPU support base, resulting in a genocide that left 20,000 civilians dead. To date, nobody has been punished for it. The perpetrators are still in power, still as murderous as they were, and still fighting for a one-party state.
Gukurahundi was an inter-ministerial effort
The minister of state security at the time, Emmerson Mnangagwa, identified the threat – Ndebeles. The minister of state responsible for defence, Sydney Sekeramayi , as required of him, investigated and confirmed the threat – Ndebeles. After receiving intelligence from Mnangagwa and Sekeramayi, the prime minister and commander-in-chief of the defence forces, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who also doubled as minister of defence, deployed the army to deal with the threat – Ndebeles. Solomon Mujuru  was the army commander at the time. The commander of First Brigade, the operational area of the mission, was Constantine Chiwenga.
Mnangagwa is currently Zimbabwe’s president and Chiwenga his vice-president.