The importance of totems

29 May 2019 | Cultural

Some people will always have faith or succeed in whatever they attempt in life, because their totems define what they can achieve or how they will live their lives.

This is according to senior Oshiwambo lecturer at the University of Namibia (Unam), Petrus Angula Mbenzi, who is also a consultant for the Oshakati Totem Expo, which is taking place from 24 May to 1 June at the Oshakati Independence Stadium.

The expo allows people to identify themselves within their family lineages, while businesses are accorded a chance to exhibit their products and services.

This year 14 totems are participating in the expo that has attracted many exhibitors and visitors.

Mbenzi said totems identify with animals, plants or objects that determine family ability. He said every nation in the world has totems which they identify themselves with.

“The totem is a clan to which a family belongs or identify itself with. The totem is not the same as a family, as a totem is what your family identifies itself with and that is where they hold their confidence and pride. Totems are symbolised with things such as animals, crops or any important objects in society,” said Mbenzi.

“It is always good to know the totem to which people in your community belong. If you conduct research into our leaders, you might be surprised that there must be certain totems represented by many, while there might be some totems not represented. There are executive tomes which produce prominent members of societies, while some don't.”

Mbenzi said executive clans are those that were perceived in the past to produce kings and other rulers of society.

He said he is interested in researching which totems Namibian businesspeople belong to, to determine which successful and failed businesspeople belong to.

He said people from different totems can be good in one thing and bad in another. Among the totems that are participating in this year's expo are aakwaanyoka (snakes), aakwanambwa (dogs), aakwanangobe (cattle), aakwaniilya (millets), aakuuta (rabbits), aatundu (zebras), aakwanangadu (crocodiles), aakwanekamba (hyena), aakwanyati (buffalos), aakwaneidi (grass), aakwambahu (locusts), aakwaanime (lions) and others.

This year education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa officiated at the opening of the expo. She said she can be defined by a cattle and lion.


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