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In Africa, a totem (mitupo in the Shona language of Zimbabwe) is any animal or object that is considered a guardian, protector, or assistant to an ethnic group, clan, or family. An African totem is identified with a kinship or descent lineage. When the apical ancestor of a kinship group is nonhuman, it is called a totem. Many African ethnic groups or clans claim their descent from animals such as antelopes, monkeys, lions, horses, dogs, eagles, or leopards.

When a group presents itself to the world, it normally represents itself through a totemic narrative that explains how the particular people emerged from the kindness, fortune, tenderness, wisdom, or courage of a particular nonhuman animal.

Although the term totem originates in the language of the Ojibwa ethnic ...

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