Totems and Religion Feature

Capitalk Reporter/ Rebecca Kwerengwe |  2 months ago | local

Maita basa Mhofu, Museyamwa, Mutunhu Une Mago. Shavaaa!

Zvaonekwa Shumba Nyamuziwa! Mari yasvika, tinotenda!

Aiwa Mbizi, chimuregai kani mwana, anzwa kani Tembo!!

Now, these are some of the numerous totems we have in the country, and are used in different situations. The question of whether the use of totems has a place in religion, especially Christianity, is one that most cannot answer. Chivanhu nezvechitendero zvakafanana uye zvinodyidzana here?

Religions such as Christianity and Islam have a spiritual basis, both believing in a superior deity called by different names such as “Allah,” “Jehovah” and “Yahweh” depending on religion and language. Similarly, tradition believes in a superior being known as Musikavanhu (the Creator) who is omnipotent, has an unknown gender and no helpers or subordinates. This brings us back to the question, can a Christian be associated with the use of totems since totems have their roots in African Traditional religion?

Derived from an Ojibwa word, totemism can be described as a system of belief that sees a human as having kinship with a spirit being in the form of an animal, plant or element. It is believed that originally, the Ojibwa people looked at animals appearing friendly or fearful in their area and named clans after them.

As far as identity goes, acknowledging totems does not seem to go against the Christian faith. In the Bible, Jacob likened his sons to animals in a similar way drawing from their characters. Even Jesus has been called the Lion of Judah and the lamb of God. While it can be argued that this was poetic, there is a controversy as to the spiritual aspect of totems.

Traditionally, there is a spiritual side that believes that ancestors watch over people, protect them and even punish them from things like harming or eating their totem animal. These ancestors are also believed to mediate between man and Musikavanhu.

Christianity puts it clearly that Christ is the only way to God and only He is responsible for giving and taking life. So, for Christians believing in totems, it suggests they also believe in going through ancestors to get to God. In the same vein, culturalists argue then that theirs is a God who can only be reached by those who have left earthly life and are closer to him.

The idea of fearing eating totem animals also contradicts the Bible which says that all is clean to eat. So Christians are left with questions to ask themselves before they hold onto the practice of totemism.

Let me leave my controversy there for now. And by the way, ini ndiri aChihoro and I'm a proud Christian!

Reporting for Capitalk Fm in Harare, I'm Rebecca Tanyaradzwa Kwerengwe.