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Functions of totems

10 Importance of totems

  1. They are the basis of social identity. They don’t only identify people socially but also historically and culturally. e.g. the study of Shona totems is an avenue in knowing and approximating Shona history and culture.
  2. Totems are important in a society because they are the basis for solidarity and unity. People of the same totem are basically relatives who share a common ancestry. As a result, they always see each other as one.
  3. Totems serve a religious function. The belief in totemism emphasis some of the central traits of religion e.g. amongst the Shona totemism is one of the fundamental pillars of their religion. The Shona use totems and praise names to communicate to Mwari and the departed ones (family spirits).
  4. Totemism is an important basis for socialization not only among man but also between man and women. Totemism regulates gender relations. Each and every individual through totemic identity is given a particular social position which is respected by members of his / her clan as well as members of other clans.
  5. Totems also regulate marriage. Most Bantu people are EXOGAMOUS. A woman can only marry into a different clan where she will be considered Mutorwa.
  6. Totemism plays an important role in the solving of conflict. In Shona society when people of the same totem wrong each other they are persuaded to forgive each other because they are children of the same clan. Similarly, people of different totems are persuaded to solve their differences because of fear of Ngozi.
  7. Totems also serve as the basis for dividing roles and responsibilities to members of different clans. People negotiate their roles through totems.

8.regulate the land eg clans do not hunt their totems

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