Weird! 16 Totems of The Tiv People Of Nigeria


What is a totem? 
A totem simply refers to an animal, a plant or any other natural object believed to be ancestrally related to a tribe, clan, family or a group of people as a tutelary spirit. Totems may have totem poles.
Totems are viewed as a companion, relative, protector, progenitor or helper with supernatural abilities and powers. Most cultures use special names and emblems to refer to their totem which they accord a very high degree of respect, veneration, awe and fear.
One peculiar thing about totems is …
You don’t wound, kill or eat a totem knowingly or unknowingly
These communities believe that there are repercussions! Which sometimes culminate in the death of the culprit and his entire family!
In Awka, Anambra state, the symbol of the Imoka Festival is the Imoka Monkey otherwise called Enwe Imoka, The Enugwu-Ukwu people in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State also have their own totem, the Python (otherwise called Eke).
Totems are very instrumental to biodiversity conservation!
Enough said about that totems!
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! 16 totems of the Tiv peope of Benue State Nigeria!
  • Green Snake. The Tiv people believe that the Green snake which they call ikyarem helped them cross the River Congo in Central Africa.
  • The Wild Custard Apple. Called Hur by the Tivs, this fruit is said to prevent snake bites and if bitten by mistakes, the leaves are used for the treatment of such bites.
  • Witch Bird. They call it Imburukutuutuu or Ngurukutuu. This bird is believed to give bad luck to whoever that eats it.
  • Pubescent Edible Gardenia (Ibohough). It is believed to protect the humans from being attacked by elephants when they hide under the plant or hold its branches. Unfortunately, the number of elephants in the wild in Nigeria has drastically reduced due to the country’s inability to keep up with trends in global biodiversity conservation.
  • Big Rat (Ikyor). The Tivs believe that something bad may happen when anyone sees this animal during the day. Some say a family member of the person who saw it may die.
  • Short eared owl (Mtsaan). When this bed cries around anyone’s compound, somebody is likely going to die.

  • Kpikyegh. Using this plant as firewood would cause all your poultry to die off.
  •  Rabbit head (Alom). Anybody from the Tonguv District where some Tiv people dwell that eats the head of rabbit, the person will become mad. 
  • Spotted blind snake (Ivervese). Pregnant women are forbidden from eating the snake. It is believed that the child the woman was carrying when she ate the snake would see well during the night, but not during the day.
  •  Owl (Ivungu). The Tiv people believe it’s a witch bird and stones aren’t thrown at it. Anyone that throws stone at it is likely going to die.
  • Pygmy Squirrel. Pregnant women don’t eat this animal with ugly bow legs since they believed that the child the woman was carrying when she ate the animal would resemble the animal.
  • God’s rock/foot print. The Tiv people regard this rock as a shrine which distinguishes them from other tribes.
  • Deity (Ikwong). The Tivs believe that this deity protects them and their interest as well as heals them from their sicknesses.
  • Small multi colored striped snake (Omari). This snake brings bad omen to whoever that sees it.
  • Parrot (Allor). It is believed to bring bad omen in the community whenever it cries.
  • Star insect (Okpakpen). Whenever someone sees the insect in their house, it is a sign that a visitor is coming.
What about you? Does your community have their own totems? Share with us below!

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