Totems are symbols of identity represented by living things. One’s totem could be a buffalo, a sheep, a lion, an elephant, a leg (of any animal) or a heart (also of any animal). Consequently, one is supposed to revere one’s totem such that it is taboo to eat one’s totem or do anything that denigrates the supposedly sacred symbol. In olden days, any denigration of one’s totem was believed to invite dire consequences such as ill fortune, sickness and - in extreme cases - death.
This episode of African Secrets seeks to unravel the mystery and myth behind totems through research and one-on-one interviews with cultural gurus and elderly members of society with in-depth knowledge of this age-old belief. The program explores the beliefs, superstitions and controversies associated with totems in the context of the prevailing socio-cultural environment.
The story is told by a narrator linking the information gathered in research and the opinions of interviewees. It also gives brief profiles of certain animals or elements of nature from which some common totems are derived.