Do totems have a place in Christianity?
The ready answer to that for most Christians is an emphatic no. But that is not so for all Christians, with a local bishop last week saying totems were an intrinsic part of any African’s identity.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail Religion, Bishop Ollah Juru of Proverbs of Jesus Ministries said, “Our totems are important because they carry our identity, Christianity is very different from the African Traditional Religion but the issue is totems were there way before Christianity came into place.
“Christianity is based on Jesus only and if the African people wanted to live their lives as complete Christians then one should change his or her surname soon after baptism and adopt the name Jesus as their surname.
“If you go deep into Christianity you will end up leaving the church because Christianity has so many contradictions with African Traditional Religion.
“Christians should appreciate their totems. Yes, you receive Christ – but you stick to your totem. The totems given to us by our ancestors are what make us belong to a certain group of individuals. We should know our boundaries and where we came from. It’s very important.”
Bishop Juru also explained how the attacks on totems by some Christians were a result of a lack of understanding of the New Testament and the teachings of bogus religious leaders.
“When Jesus Christ came with the New Testament, there was changing of laws but before that our ancestors used to pray to God (Musikavanhu) and all the prophets would always acknowledge their predecessors. But in the New Testament the only person who is to be acknowledged is Jesus Christ and he didn’t have a totem.
“The New Testament suits the behaviour of the white people, that’s why you even see nowadays ladies try to copy the hairstyles of white women. In fact Christianity was imposed on us.
“Most churches that we have these days are commercial churches. They want people’s money and they are doing that wiping away our original. We can’t run away from where we came from and our ancestors should be applauded for the job they did,” said Bishop Juru, who is also a renowned gospel musician.
According to the Collins Concise English Dictionary, a totem is defined as “among primitive peoples, an animal or natural object considered to be related by blood to a given family or clan and taken as its symbol”.
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