Some animals are chosen as totems because the animals are said to have qualities which the clan members would want to emulate â€Ś the Oyoko clan has the falcon, a symbol of patience; the Ekoona, the buffalo, a symbol of uprightness; the Asenna, the bat, believed to be a symbol of diplomacy; the Aduana, the dog, signifying skill; and the Agona, the crow, symbol of wisdom.16
Again, for whatever reasons these totemistic animals have been adopted, one can see that these reasons are not due to genotypic, or instinctual animal behaviour of the totems. The animals have been adopted for reasons transcending the physical. It then shows that animals are accepted as partaking not only in human nature as matter/substance but find relevance in human spiritual realm as well. In practical life, humans also affiliate with animals and use this affinity either positively or negatively. For example when a Yoruba says: Enikan o gbebi ewure To fi bi were Enikan o gbebi aguntan O bi ti e laa ye â€Ś (the goat has no midwife but delivers with ease the sheep has no midwife yet brings forth a live offspring) and then goes on to pray for safe delivery for a pregnant woman, such a person is making positive use of humananimal relationship favourably. On the other hand, when a confident trickster, popularly called 419 begins with: Owo olowo leegun nna. 16
T.N.O. Quarcoopome (1987) Totemism and secret societies, West African traditional religion. Ibadan, African University Press, p. 176.
Published on Sep 1, 2009