AFRICAN MYTHS AND THE ENVIRONMENT: A LOOK AT SOME MYTHS AND TOTEMS AMONG THE TIV OF CENTRAL NIGERIA
Myths are specific accounts of gods or super-human beings involved in extraordinary events or circumstances in a time that is unspecified but which is understood as existing apart from ordinary human experience. Myths are also accounts of the origin of societies and institutions not necessarily subject to rationalization. A totem on the other hand is an animal, a plant or any other natural object believed to be ancestrally related to a tribe, clan, family or group of people as a tutelary spirit. The aim of this chapter is to critically examine the existence and significance of African myths/totems in their association with the environment in Tiv society. Emphasis is particularly on the Ikyalem (green snake) myth and totemic beliefs such as dog meat, Ibohough (Gardenia erubescens), Ivervese (Typlops punctatus) and several others - associated with the cultural history of the Tiv of Central Nigeria. The nature, types and reasons for the formulation of myths, and how the environment pave the way for a meaningful existence of myths in Tivland is also examined. This research is timely and most importantly problem solving, because of the fast disappearance of the knowledge of myths and totems in Tiv society. Data for this research has been collected through In-Depth Interviews, key informants and Focus Group Discussion with elders, traditional heads and other people with good knowledge of myths and totemic beliefs in Tiv society. In addition to this, secondary data were also acquired from existing literatures to collaborate oral information.