Mande Sirian-Reptilian totems

The Mande are a major subgroup of the African people, found in west Afrika ranging from Senegal all the way across to Mali and further south. Their people mixed with other Africans as well creating more sub groups of the Mande. Examples of well known Mande groups are the Mandinka, Malinke and Bambara.

A couple of years back (before 2011) when I read The Way of the Elders I came across these Mande totems by the Mande man who wrote the book: lion, tiger, leopard, red hyena, elephant, crocodile, various snakes (python, boa, cobra). Some of these totems were even further broken down into those associated with various clans/families.

Families (pg.12 of the book)


Snake—————Cisse, Niare, Drame, Doukowie
Crocodile———–Traore, Mariko
Elephant————-Samake (elephant = Sama…SAA-MAA?)

It is clear from the list of Mande totems that feline (lion, tiger, leopard) and reptilian (boa, cobra, python) are well represented. The totemic associations with various clans is by no means exhaustive as we can see that some of the totems originally listed by the author of the book are not given family associations. I suppose the various clans/families associated with the snake may have different snakes as totems. Also interesting is the association with the tiger, which is not an animal found in Africa but rather in Asia.

Unlike the Akan people who have a stronger avian-reptilian connection (crow, falcon, parrot, white vulture with snake associations), it seems the Mande have a stronger feline-reptilian connection (lion, tiger, leopard with snake associations), after examining their totems. The leopard however is a common totem among most African people.

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