Zim Identities: I am a Viking Chihera  

I have never cared much about my race. It is something I am not able to change and therefore pay very little attention to. I contribute when it is brought up in conversation, but to a minimal extent because I already know where a lot of conversations will lead. “You are neither white, nor black.” This is true, I am both and neither at the same time. The real question is, should it actually matter? Race and culture, particularly, for a Zimbabwean are two things that are interlinked. The same is perhaps true for many other Africans, for whom, I cannot speak. I hope, in this personal rendition of life, as I have known it, I can avoid any more useless conversations on the topic and to answer any last questions anyone may or may not have. It is interesting to me to think how because one parent is black and the other is white, that onlookers decide you have no background, and very little culture, when for me being a young Zimbabwean woman, this is very far from the truth. I straddle the boxes of two cultures everyday (and before anyone decides this is a lament on the hardships of being a bi-racial African, it isn’t.) It is exactly the opposite. My roots are based in many corners of the world, I have been brought up in many of those corners, and it is this that informs my piece. Hug-Black-White-Salt-and_AA230F72 Ndiri muhera, hailing from the eastern side of Zimbabwe, I am trying to learn chiNdau as this is the land we settled in. My ancestors travelled many kilometers on foot from the Zulu empire. I am told that my ancestors were religious advisors to the royal families of the area that is now known as Zimbabwe, from the line of Nyashanu. I also come from a like of ancestors who boarded boats and ships to go and raid and pillage, to explore, to settle, to profit. These ancestors believed in crusades and imperialism, in conquering nations and being the better being. I come from clans that are viewed as royal, peasant, rich and poor – they are all present in me, they are part of my life-blood and there is no point in denying it. I am probably more allegiant to my totem than most young Zimbabweans I know, even with a white parent who has no totem – but I have done it on my terms. Ndiri Muhera after all. A Viking Chihera, as one of my friends has dubbed me after deciding that there are two life bloods at work in me, and neither is more important that the other. Conversation after conversation leads to how there must be some angst in me as one half of my ancestry brutally murdered the other half. No. I pay it no mind, I did not know those people and therefore need not worry about them. I am me. Many people tend to attribute stereotypical qualities of races to bi-racial beings and not care to note where this particular bi-racial being comes from or what culture they follow. When I was first made aware of my mix I felt I had something to prove. I felt I had to prove my blackness to the world. I had already apparently proven my whiteness in my eloquence in English (kids can be so misunderstanding and cruel). I had to prove how much I knew about my Zimbabwean (read, ‘black’) culture to fit in. It was not long before I decided that this was in fact too tiring and did not need that much attention from me at all. To whom did it matter anyway? Not to me. I knew enough about my own culture. Like I said, I am a Viking Chihera. I have been raised an outspoken and opinionated woman, to never be silenced. When this is pointed out to me, I attribute it to the characteristics of my totem. After all, are we not outspoken and stubborn? Do we not break down mythical walls and walk upstream rather than be moved by the current? Does this not inform part of my culture? No. According to the wise ones, this is because I am obviously half white, and have forgotten to act according to ‘Zimbabwean’ culture. Surely any real woman would know that. Again, whose culture? I know my culture – I am a Viking Chihera. Which brings me to the other side of my culture, the more ‘Eurocentric’ culture I suppose, but after being in Zimbabwe for generations, do they not form part of Zimbabwean culture? Can we really say with straight faces that Zimbabwean culture is all black? After all, do we not go to the same schools? Do we not go to the same churches? Shop at the same stores and vacation in the same places? Do we not speak the same languages? Do we not wear the same clothes? The idea that my culture has to be split is something that took years to process. And the truth is, it is something I have just let people believe. There is not much of a difference for me, except that I greet my ‘white’ (who are mostly bi-racial) family with kisses, and not ALL my black family – you know, age differences and what not. For the black side, ndinoombera, and not often at all. But really? We have the same conversations, we watch mostly the same shows, they go to the same churches, they drive the same cars, they dress the same, eat the same food, listen to the same music, respect their elders, address everyone accordingly, cook for their husbands, take care of their wives… I am frankly quite tired of pretending that there are massive differences, there aren’t. The truth of the matter is that culture is an incredibly dynamic and intricate thing. We all have our own cultures and to be honest I have yet to come across a true, united Zimbabwean culture. One that is not influenced by the Christian background we so readily took up from people we simultaneously see as oppressors. One that is not influenced by a culture of politics that we so readily accepted as our own as soon as we had borders and appointed leaders that were different from the system we had created for ourselves. A culture that does not accept our traditional attire in public. A united culture that does not see divisions based on the colour of one’s skin. In my opinion, we do not have that and do not see the need to work towards that together. We talk about it, but do nothing about it ultimately. We dream about it, and then get lost in our own lives while we let it slide. I can only guess that perhaps this fragmentation is in fact our united culture. This continuous focus on things like race as the precursor for success in our society, perhaps this is the new united, divided Zimbabwean culture that we have. I am just one person in a sea of millions. This is just my story. There are many more out there that may be different. I am probably not the only Viking Chihera. But as I have said before, every story is relevant, and every story has its own context, perhaps this one will give you a drop more. * Vahera – Zimbabweans with the Eland as their totem. Women with this totem are known as “ana Chihera” 

Shau Mudekunye

Screenshot 2014-10-23 23.09.54

5 thoughts on “Zim Identities: I am a Viking Chihera  

  1. Aiwa ndatenda hangu Achihera… love the article and yes it is true we have been caught up in a myriad of different cultures and in the process lost our own identity… little as we might not realise it the foundation of knowledge and appreciation of our heritage and culture plays a pivotal role in a united force and collective effort in identifying ourselves in a sea of many cultures!


  2. Wow
    This is so powerful, read several times.
    Well articulated achihera.
    Naome Mudekunye


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