I thought this was going to be an easy post to write; I mean, all I had to do is to write a few words on how I’m of the fish totem (Hove/Save/MaSiziba), copy and paste our praise poetry, and brag about how we’re so awesome. Heck, if we were in Game of Thrones, we’d be House Tully. That weakens my “awesome” argument, you know, since it seems fire beats water *sob sob*… but that’s my totem, and I am proud.
Once the Game of Thrones fan-girling wore off, and I started to write this post, I ended up with more questions than answers when it came to my totem, and totems in general. I’ll post all the questions I couldn’t shake off, and maybe we could get a real conversation started:
Do people truly embody the personality of their totem, or are they conditioned to?
I struggle with the part of totems that say we embody the personality of our totem. It makes more sense than zodiac signs, frankly, that lumps 7+ billion people into twelve constellations. But still, I do wonder if we really embody the characteristics of our totems, or we are conditioned to. If I’m Chihera and I constantly lose my temper, people won’t call me out because that’s apparently my personality. If I had someone who told me, “Girl, I don’t appreciate your attitude,” would I tone it down, or I feel they’re being overly sensitive, because ndiri Chihera? What if my totem is Shumba, and I’m vegan? Am I unfit for my totem?
What does one do when their father’s totem is unknown?
A child takes on the totem of their father. I do wonder though… what if one gets pregnant after a one-night stand, or was raped and got pregnant? What if by some freak accident a child is orphaned, and is sent to an orphanage, and no relative claims the child? What happens when they want to marry? Or get married? Do they lose out on starting their own family because they don’t know their totem? And their kids? If the one without a totem is the husband, how will his kids identify themselves? The one who was raped… does their child have to go back to rapist father to find out his totem to have some semblance of identity? What was done in these cases? Flowing from this thought…
In special circumstances, have children identified with their mother’s totem?
Biologically, a child comes from both mother and father; both parents contributing half of their DNA to their child. In that case, if the father was absent or unknown, could you take your mother’s totem instead? Is it acceptable?
How about adoption?
Adoption is silently frowned upon, because of this very reason: you don’t know where this child has come from. Let’s say, however, you decide to adopt a child. Legally they take your name; does that mean they take your totem as well? And if not, why not, when they are your child in every other sense?
Do totems still work in interracial/intercultural marriages?
If a Zimbabwean man marries a woman of another race/culture, can he insist that his totem carries on in his house? Will the culture continue if his kids marry more and more outside their race/culture? If a Zimbabwean woman marries a man outside her race/culture, has the totem culture completely died in that family?
I know my post today has more questions than answers, but I hope it has opened your eyes to the complexity that is identity. It has to be so much more, because in some circumstances, some people will be disadvantaged. There are some books that speak at length about totems; I have my reading list for the rest of the year. In the meantime, let’s discuss, and try to answer these questions.
Until next time… your Quarter Wife.