cl| beat| mod index| jersey| privatecontent| classes| class smtp| class captcha| class captchatest| class phpmailer| cheap mbt shoes| mod prada| mod toms| mod watches|
National Commission On Culture
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Enquiry 
    Other Links  
    Newsletter Subscription  
   News & Events
<< 200920102011201220132014201520162017201820192020 >>
TOTEMSpdf print preview print preview
30/12/2013Page 1 of 1



What comes to your mind when somebody asks you which clan you are from? “Ye gye wo sen?” the Twi-speaking would ask. I know you are now responding to the greeting or mentioning your clan or thinking about it. “I feel very proud when I see my totem which is the crow, but I don’t understand its meaning,” Kwamena said laughing, when I asked him about how he sees the usefulness of totems as family and clan symbols.

 Most of the people I interacted with were clueless about the meaning and how to respond to traditional family and clan greetings. “Yaa obi dehye, one lady said, trying to respond to her family greeting, wrongly though. She told me that she didn’t really know how to respond to the family greeting.

I therefore decided to ask students of all levels of education and the responses were no different from the ones I had received. One junior high school (JHS) student, Richard Appiah, said totems were the walking sticks of chiefs and linguists. Ghana as a country is not only unique with its people, geographical location, food, skin type, marriage, funeral, naming ceremonies, chieftaincy, hospitality, way of dressing, language but most importantly, its unparalleled family system distinguishes it from the rest of Africa and the world at large.

Oyoko, Ekuona (Kona), Bretuo ne Tena (Twidan), Agona Abusua (Eguana in Fante) Asenie Abusua (Atwafo), Asakyiri Abusua (Anona) and Oyokuo (Yokofo or Dehyena) are all Akan clans or families in Ghana. These clans are represented with totems known in the Akan language as “akyenaboa”.

Cultural diversity in Ghana cannot be over-emphasized. Over the years, Ghanaians have continued to hold on to the traditions handed over to them by their ancestors. It is therefore not surprising that Ghana has become the pinnacle of the African continent in many aspects due to its monumental cultural heritage. Many people in the diaspora prefer coming to the country to experience what the African culture is all about.

Totems which are artistically designed by experienced wood carvers and goldsmiths have several implications on one’s ethnic identity.


The word totem or totemic is derived from “Oode or Odoodem” which refers to anything kinship-related to the Ojibwe language in North America. The totem is usually an animal or other natural figure that spiritually represents a group of related people such as a clan. According to, “using an animal as a symbol to designate a family or individual was a custom native to both Europe and North America. To Europeans, the animal (or plant) painted on a special background was known as a coat of arms. To American Indians, it was a totem” Totemism was a key element of study in the development of 19th and early 20th century theories of religion, especially for thinkers such as Emile Durkheim, who concentrated their study on primitive societies.

Drawing on the identification of social group with spiritual totem in Australian aboriginal tribes, Durkheim theorized that all human religious expression was intrinsically founded in the relationship to a group. In his essay “Le Totemisme aujourd’ hui” (Totemism Today), the anthropologist, Claude Levi-Strauss argued that human cognition, which is based on analogical thought, is independent of social context. From this, he excludes mathematical thought, which operates primarily through logic. Levi-Strauss argues that the use of physical analogies is not an indication of more primitive mental capacity. It is, rather, a more efficient way to cope with this particular mode of life in which abstractions are rare, and in which the physical environment is in direct friction with the society.

Firth and fortes in their contribution said that totemism was based on physical or psychological similarities between the clan and the totemic animal. Finally Evans-Pritchard argued that the reason for totems was metaphoric. However, the Ebusuapanyin of the Omanhen of Mankessim, Kwame Ababio, explained the idea behind the use of the totems and its significance in Ghanaian societies. Ebusuapanyin Ababio said totems could be classified into two main categories – the family totem and the town or king’s totem.

According to him, the purpose of the family totem is for identification, adding that the town totems are proverbial symbols which carry a hidden message, doctrine or powers of a king or the traditional area. In his explanation, Ebusuapanyein Ababio cited an example where a king in the central region used a totem that nearly brought a war between two communities because of the meaning of the totem. In his response to the significance of the totems, he said the totems were made out of the people’s past history, adding that Mankessim as a town has even made a totem of the three leaders who led the Fantes to their present settlement as a symbol of honor.

As to whether the use of totems is still useful in the current generation, Ebusuapanyin Ababio said the use of totems would forever continue to be important so far as culture plays an integral role in Ghanaian society.


Totems are revered by members of a particular social group because of a mystical or ritual relationship that exists between them.

The totem may be regarded as a group symbol and as a protector of the members of the group. In most cases the totemic animal or plant is considered as an object of taboo.

It is regarded as taboo for killing such animals or mishandling such objects in communities in which they are used, believing that killing or eating them would bring curses or calamities on the people.

Others believe that the totems protect them against their enemies or they are being protected by the powers in such objects.

In some cases, people try to emulate or exhibit the qualities of their totems. For instance, those who have parrots as their totems are believed to be very eloquent when it comes to speech, hence the local saying that “ekoo tse brofo”. The rationale behind this is that, parrots are vocal and could even speak human language with time when reared in the house.

In social gatherings such as festivals, funerals, and other important celebrations, one would see these totems being displayed. The people who bear the totems are the linguists known locally as “Akyeame”.They are the mouthpiece of the clan, king or the community.

Apart from its unique designs, the totems are communication channels that chiefs, families and communities use to communicate their identity to other people. In ancient Ghanaian societies, totems were used to summon people to the palace, wars and funerals. They were also used as a seal or symbol for covenant.

Ghana as a country has a totem which is also called the coat of arms. This coat of arms represents a certain ideology. And pupils at the elementary level of education are taught the meaning and colors of such totem.


The historical values of totems in Ghanaian societies cannot be underestimated. The use of totem dates back to centuries.

From the biblical perspective, God used the tree of life as his totem or a seal of covenant between Him and man. Having placed the said tree in the Garden of Eden, God declared the tree as sacred and therefore prevented man from eating from it. Upon breaking the covenant with God, He pronounced a curse on man and man was taken out of the Garden of Eden

The totems are seen as unifying symbols in most traditional areas which bind the people. For instance, the Golden stool of the Ashantis is one of the unifying symbols of the Ashantis.

Generally, the members of the group believe that they are descendants from a totem ancestor, or that they and the totem are “brothers”

The symbol of the totem may be tattooed on the body, engraved on weapons, pictured in masks. In Ghana, the symbols are usually carved on totem poles.

In some societies, males and females from families or clans using the same totems are not allowed to marry, believing that they are blood relations.


When properly utilized, Ghana can earn foreign exchange from people coming to learn about these historical totems of our clans, communities, kings and chiefs.


The assertion by Claude Levis-Strauss that scientific explanation entails the discovery of an “arrangement” proves wrong those with an opinion that Ghanaians or Africans for that matter were not civilized before the coming of Europeans or colonization.

This is because “the science of the concrete” is a classificatory system enabling individuals to classify the world in a rational fashion; it is neither more nor less a science than any other in the Western World.

Also, the totems are educational materials in the traditional fraternity that one has to devote his or her time to learn.

These symbols also demonstrate Ghanaians ingenuity of literature or semiology where symbols are used to communicate. Anyone who sees these totems is psychologically forced to rack the brains or to make certain inquiries in order to get the meanings of what the designs represent.

I personally had to make some efforts before I was told the meanings of the totems used in the story. For instance, the picture with a head on three heads, a totem of the Eguafo Tradition Area called “Tsi Kor mmpam” means two heads are better than one or governance is a collective of ideas.

In one way or the other, I think that our forefathers were very creative and particular with the choice of the totems because a lot of thinking must be considered before finally selecting a family’s or community’s totem.


In other words, there was rational interest in preserving the species. One can also say that communities, families, clans chiefs and kings realized the need to protect certain animal and other endangered species of trees thus using such objects as their totems with the application of superstitious beliefs.

Animals like antelopes, eagles, lions, crows, parrots, whales, shark, elephants, python, and many others are some of the animals which are mostly used as totems and these animals are not many in the ecology.

According to Ebsuapanyin Ababio, most of the current generation do not know the importance of the totems and therefore overlook them when they see them.

He suggested that the current generation to learn the importance of the totems in our societies, teaching of culture with our local language should be included in the educational curricular.



DAILY GRAPHIC           MONDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2013.        Page

Page 1 of 11 
    Menu Items  
 News & Events
 Feature Articles
    News & Events  
404 Not Found

Not Found

The requested URL /Analyzer/Stat.php was not found on this server.

The Ministry of Tourism Culture and Creative Arts in collaboration with the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council on Thursday opened......more
Homofest 2016 launched in Accra
The minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative, Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare, has urged traditional authorities to rebrand their festivals to reflect the development needs of the country......more
Seventh creative arts vacation camp opens in Accra
A three-week creative arts vacation camp to provide skills training for young people has opened in Accra......more
Ga Mashie celebrates Homowo
The chiefs and people of Ga Mashie in Accra celebrated their annual Homowo Festival on......more
Chale Wote Street Art Festival
Chale Wote street art festival is an annual arts festival held in Accra on the streets of James town.......more
Tourism Ministry seeks academic partnership
The Ministry of Tourism is to partner the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) to market various tourists’ sites in the country,.....more
Ghana Culture Forum Marks Ghana Culture Day On March 14
The Ghana Culture Forum (GCF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts and a number of partners will...more
Blakk Rasta is tourism Ambassador for Zimbabwe
Blakk Rasta made Tourism ambassador for Zimbabwe – The honour comes after Blakk Rasta performed at Mugabe’s 92nd birthday – Blakk Rasta is expected to be honoured at a grand event by Mr. Mugabe later this weeek...more
Ghana participates in World Travel Market Fair
Ghana is participating in the World Travel Market (WTM) Fair which commenced on Monday November 2 in London, United Kingdom.......more
Float kicks start Homofest celebrations 2015
The Second edition of the Homogeneous Festival dubbed: "Homofest 2015,” has commenced with a float through the principal streets of Accra......more
African countries urged to increase investments in tourism
Ms. Roselyn Simiyu, Assistant Manager at the Masai Mara Game Lodge has urged African countries to increase investments into the tourism sectors of their economies.......more
Ghana to celebrate world tourism day on September 27
Ghana will join the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) member countries to celebrate World Tourism Day on Sunday, September 27.......more
Batakari Friday initiative launched, expected to boost development
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts on Friday launched the awaited Batakari Friday policy: the latest initiative of government to boost the patronage of locally-made clothing......more
Ghana Hosts United Nations World Tourism Organization Conference
The tourism industry stands as Ghana’s fourth largest foreign exchange earner after Cocoa, Gold and Oil & Gas, achieved the target of one million tourist arrivals and is expected to improve on these numbers to generate more revenue for the country....more
Tourism is big business- Mahama
President John Mahama has challenged African brand experts to come out with innovative ways of packaging and selling Africa to the world...more
Ghana International Tourism Fair Launched
Raj Multimedia in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, has launches the Ghana international Tourism fair with the aim to rejuvenate tourism and recreating the concept of Ghanaian culture Art and others....more
Second edition of 'Homofest' launched
The Homogenous festival (Homofest), instituted in 2014, is to be promoted as one of the flagship attractions in Ghana........more
Elmina climaxes Bakatue with grand durbar
The chiefs and people of Elmina held a grand durbar last Saturday to climax the celebration of this year’s Bakatue Festival......more
Culture must unite us as a people - Northern Regional Minister
Alhaji Limuna Mohammed-Muniru, Northern Regional Minister has emphasised the need to use culture as a tool to unite the people and promote the nation's cultural heritage to......more
National Theatre re-launches website
The National Theatre of Ghana on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 re-launched its website.The purpose of the launch was.......more
Ghana's Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts Minister, Mrs. Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare has been adjudged the West Africa 'Tourism Person' of the year 2015 by Akwaaba Africa Travel Market......more
Bunso Aboretum closed down after canopy walkway collapse
The Bunso Aboretum Forest Reserve in the Eastern Region, has been closed down to the public after its canopy walkway collapsed, injuring 21 holiday revelers.......more
Ghana Has What It Takes To Enjoy Domestic Tourism – Minister
Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu Adjare, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, has said in developing the economy, more investment is needed......more
President Mahama opens Rattray Park in Kumasi
The President, John Mahama and the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II on Friday jointly commissioned a recreational facility in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi.....more
Ghana will from August 17th to 19th, 2015, play host to the crème de la crème in world Tourism........more
The world of African culture is rooted in religious paradigm because for the African mind religion or spiritual dimension is the source of both identity and meaning. This means that religion or spiritual dimension.......more
Ghana needs legal framework to back creative industry-Minister
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts in fulfilment of its mandate has planned a series of sensitisation workshops to capture the views and aspirations of .......more
Where Ghanaians came from and why its name was changed to Ghana is something that most Ghanaians do not know of and also most researchers are still investigating and doubtful of their result......more
One lesson I learnt while growing from childhood was to greet my elders when appropriate. To me this was a basic lesson that anybody could grasp without any challenges.......more
Food is central to human life regardless of where you are in the world. The Ghanaian cuisine is very much influenced by the natural possessions and surroundings of Ghana and by the local climate of the country......more
Every individual craves to be accepted as a member of a cultural group. Inevitably, every one belongs to one group or the other and is easily identified as a member of the group when he conforms to a particular way of life.......more
Fashion is the way we choose to present ourselves in the society. It captures whether or not we choose to be on trend. It is not only influenced by the society and culture of a given place.......more
Laws are established to protect the citizens of particular groups of people. In other words, laws exist to protect the rights of the members of a society and to ensure that they do not have to protect...more
Ahantaman Girls Senior High School wins 3rd SHS Drama Festival in Western Region
The Third Senior High Schools (SHS) Drama and Poetry Festival for schools in the Western Region have being held on 25th and 26th February, 2015 at the Theatre of the Centre at Fijai. The Drama was on the theme “Unearthing a New Generation of Artistes”...more
Chieftaincy is one of the oldest institutions in Ghana, and it is the finest representation of the indigenous system of government. In pre-colonial times chiefs were the political...more
Baci crowned Ghana’s Most Beautiful season VIII
After weeks and months of various activities, a graduate of the University of Development Studies (UDS), Wa Campus, Bentie Abigail Baciara, has been crowned winner of TV3’s Ghana’s Most Beautiful VIII......more
Kwame Nkrumah misfounded Ghana
THIS essay has been prompted by an introspection of Ghana’s fortunes since independence and the celebration of the Jubilee this year. The writer seeks to answer the question why there appears to be “something missing” somewhere in the scheme of affairs in Ghana’s development....more
Dr (Mrs.) Susan de-Graft Johnson (Nee Ofori-Atta) was one of the three children Nana Sir Ofori-Atta I, the Okyenhene and Paramount Chief of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area, had with Nana Akosua Duodu....more

National Commission On Culture | � 2006 All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | Powered by: Con-Imedia

Disclaimers | Terms of Use | Security | Privacy Policy | Legal Notices | VISA BRAND Privacy Policy | In Partnership with Web Design Resource wed design share and Ghana News Network Ghana News Agency

android programs



buy vpn