Feature Article of Mon, 20 Sep 20105

Totems And Wildlife Conservation - Ghanaians Must Know Their Totems

OTEMS AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION – GHANAIANS MUST KNOW THEIR TOTEMS





Our wildlife is our cultural heritage, yet through over hunting, timber


harvesting, bush fires use of toxic chemicals and other forms of habitat


destruction, a large number of animals, reptiles and most bird species have been


lost forever.





Our tradition of totemism is not an idol worship as it was done in the olden


days, it is intended to moderate and save our wildlife heritage. When the last


animal dies human beings would also cease to exist on earth in the same way that


the last man will die when the last tree dies on this earth.





Every Ghanaian has a totem to revere; you just ask your mothers if you are


Akans, because you inherit your totems from your mother side whilst non-Akans


including this writer pick their totems from their fathers’ sides. Totemism is


NOT a religion; it is a way of life and a source of FAMILY PRIDE that gives an


indelible lesson on traditional wildlife conservation. Our ancestors were very


much attuned to conservation of wildlife species; we can not throw away our


totemism just like that because it has been one of the major traditional


conservation tools which have helped to conserve many wildlife species up to


date 2010.





The major totem of the people of Sunyani and Nkoransa traditional areas is the


FRUIT BAT which mostly lives in caves. History has it that when their ancestors


were migrating from Adansi to Asante several decades ago, they came up against


some violent aggressive people who decided to fight them and they took refuge in


a cave. When thousands of BATS came out of the cave and scattered the enemy who


wrongly guessed that human beings could not be hiding inside the cave, hence


they were saved by the BATS. The people of Drobo traditional area have the


crested porcupine as their totem. For the Wenchi people, their totem is the


tree hyrax. The Elephant and Hedgehog are the totems of the people of Odumase


traditional area, whilst the people of Techiman have the mudfish and the Bat as


their totems. It is very interesting to note that in most cases, the principal


reason for the choice of an animal reptile or bird for a totem stems from the


fact that the particular creature SAVED THE CLAN in the past, or that a Clan


models itself after an essential attribute of it, e.g. Bravery, courage, speed


and wisdom to ensure their continued survival. For the Manya Krobo traditional


area in the Eastern Region and Yilo Krobos, the python is their totem since they


believe it holds the spirit of the people especially women together due to its


kindness.





It is therefore regarded by the Manyas as their grandmother and should NOT be


killed or harmed at all for any reason. The Aduana, Kumawu, Bompata and


Essumeya traditional areas have a dog with a flame in its mouth as their totem.


In the Denyasi traditional area, the honey badger is their totem. People of the


Big Ada traditional area have the cock as their totem because it saved the clan


by alerting them of advancing enemies during a particular bloody war several


centuries ago. The Buems have the vulture as their totem but it is surprising


to outsiders since Buems also kills the vulture, regarded as their totem and


offer its blood to their gods.








The people of Tapa and Nkonya traditional areas have the crab as their totem


which led their ancestors to find water (LIFE) and fertile lands according to


history. The people of Krachi have the lion as their totem. The Anlos have the


Nile monitor lizard as their totem. The people of Central Region have several


totems the most dominant animal is the Elephant which is a totem for Denkyira,


Eguafo, Abura, Ajumako and Abeadze. The Elephant is revered for its great size


and strength. However, totems have taken a modern flavor in Ghana and Africa


because four of our political parties have the Cock, the Eagle, the Elephant and


a Coof as their respective emblems, whilst in African Soccer, we have the


porcupine warriors, Asante Kotoko, The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, the Cranes


of Uganda, the Green Eagles of Nigeria and the Terranga Lions of Senegal


respectively. The founding fathers of these teams and political parties had the


wisdom of our great ancestors.





The people of Ajumako have the bush buck as their additional totem and they


always say that even though the Elephant is great in the forest, it is the


bushbuck who is the king, according to them. Most people knows the totem of


Effutu / Winneba traditional area which is the bushbuck and the same applies to


Oguaa, whose totem is the Crab. The Anomabu people have the grey parrot as


their totem and the totem of the Edina people is the Hen with Chicks. The totem


of the people of Twifo-Hemang is the Lion, whilst the people of Ekumfi and


Abirem have the royal Antelope as their totem. The people of Sefwi Wiaso and


Suaman tradional area have the Crowned Crested Eagle as their totem.





The people of Greater Accra have the following totems; the Lion for Kpone and


the Elephant for the Ga, the Shais both Osudoku and Old Ningo. The people of


Ningo Prampram have the crowned crested Eagle and the Sea Turtle as their


totems. Are we teaching our future leaders who will take over from us tomorrow


about our rich cultural heritage in this country? I doubt it, because most


Ghanaians Youth are rather interested in wearing their trousers and ever pair of


knickers below their buttocks which they shamefully describe as “Otto Fischers”


or is it Fixtures, “picture” or whatever they call that shabby dressing style in


this country.





We must teach Ghanaian Youth to know all these important traditional values


because posterity will never forgive us if we fail to do that. At the lower


Dixcove traditional area, the crocodile is their totem whilst the Ahantas revere


the whale because they have the believe that their ancestors emerged from the

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belly of the whale.





The people of Essikado and Sekondi have the Buffalo as their totem since they


claim that their ancestors were powerful warriors. The people of Wassa Frase


have the bushbuck as their totem and the people of Mpohor also have the parrot


as their totem. The Offinso traditional area have four totems, the Snake, the


Hen, the Crow and the Elephant. The Obogus, the Kokofus, the Nsutas, the


Asankares and Juabengs being of the Oyoko extraction like Kumasi have the Hawk


as their most important totem. For the Akwamus, their principal totem is the


Hawk or Black Kite. For the Akyem Kotokus, Akyem Abuakwas, the Kwahus, the


Leopard is held in high esteem as a totem, for its deciveness, strength in


battle and its resilience. A leopard never gives up. The new Juabens, like


their old Juaben kith and kin are all Oyokos and their totem is the black kite


or Hawk. The Asokore and Adansi being Ekuonas, hold the buffalo as a sacred


animal and their totem. If you have ever knowingly or unknowingly killed or


eaten an animal or a reptile that happens to be your totem. Just tell your 80


year old grandmother or 85 year old father you will see the serious concern and


anger she/he will express in your presence, because if we throw away our totems


we are throwing away our cultural heritage and our own selves all in the name of


an alien culture. The most endangered clan, family or tribal totems are the


grey parrot, buffalo, tree hyrax, lion, crocodile and the aardvark. A very


common totem in Ghana is currently extinct in several areas where they are


regarded as sacred totems. E.g. Voggusin the Northern Region, Gonja, Kpembe,


Dagbon, Kpone, Twifuhemang and Krachi. The leopard and tigers are very


difficult to find these days, even though they are principal totems for several


people and other tribes in Ghana including Dorimon, Pulma, Gwira in the Western


Region Bumbilla, Tuluwe, Akyem Abuakwa, Kwahu, Assin Apimenim, Enyan Abaasa,


Akatakyiman and all Ghanaians at Agogo and Ofoase. Therefore the leopard’s list


of traditional areas in Ghana also emphasise that we are essentially BROTHERS


and SISTERS, ONE PEOPLE linked by common TOTEMIC and other bounds and must as a


result live TOGETHER as such.








The porcupine (Kotoko) is the principal totem for five important traditional


areas. Sombo, Kaahaa, Walenbelee and Drobo in the Brong Ahafo Region. What are


our policy makers doing about this for several decades? Elephants can no longer


be found in the Offinso and Ejura, Sekyidumase areas nor can they be sighted in


the other traditional areas that share the great pachyderm as their totem. They


are Denkyira, Abura, Ajumako, Eguafo, Abeadze, Shai Osudoku, Manprusi, Yinyuo,


Wassa Amenfi and Old Ningo.





Neither can one find a crested porcupine now except in the Kumasi and Accra


Zoos. In the past, the survival of our clans was based on courage and strength,


so all Ghanaian families, clans and traditional areas have their respective


TOTEMS and the Youth must be made to know these. In the Northern half of Ghana,


our chiefs are elevated to their positions on SKINS of various types of


ANIMALS. Animal skins are also used by our SOUTHERN CHIEFS and KINGS. An Akan


paramount chief requires a lion’s pelt for public ceremonies whilst his


footstool is mostly from leopard skin. All royal drums have animal skins as the


basic membrane.





The people of Chiana - Paga traditional area as well as the people of Kaleo in


the Upper East and Upper West Regions have their sacred totem as the baboon; it


is so revered for having saved the lives of their ancestors from slave raiders


some 600 years ago. On the other hand, the people of Guo and Nandom (Upper West


Region) and Nankong, Builsa and Nabdam in the Upper East Region have the patas


monkey as their totem that should never be killed or eaten. The Sirigu and


Navrongo traditional areas have the squirrel as their totem. The principal


totems in Volta Region include the lion, royal antelope and the elephant. The


people of Anfoega have the mona monkey as their totem. For the people of


Awudome, their totem is the python which is also the totem of this writer on his


father side, whilst the cat is a totem on his mother’s side. The history of the


Awudomies is that when their ancestors were migrating to their present area,


they were attacked by some war like people whose objective was to seize their


sacred stool. Miraculously, the stool turned into a python and the sacred


attackers scattered in fright. The cat is also the totem of Awudome. If you


ever attended a festival of chiefs and people in the Akan speaking areas, you


will see different kinds of linguists staff with carved objects on top of these


staffs which identifies a family or clan or tells a proverb. A careful look at


most of these carvings is representations of various animals notably Reptiles


and Birds, the Lion, the Elephant, the Eagle, the Buffalo, the Leopard, the


Snake, the Tortoise, the Crow, the Crocodile, the Parrot, the Vulture and the


Hawk. So what do these symbols stand for? The answer is that every Ghanaian


has a family or clan totem from time immemorial and it must be held sacred and


protected by members of that clan, family or tribe for their spiritual well


being. We are NOT Europeans so dear reader, what is your totem after reading


this article? You must know it and tell your children and friends otherwise you


are doomed and living in perpetual darkness bounded by foreign values and alien


culture which is worse than death. I am done





Aluta Continua





Clement Sangaparee


United Cadres Front


C/O Box 32, Obuasi


E-mail: clementsang@yahoo.com





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