Thu, Oct 17, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Nigerian town celebrates claim as the ‘twins capital’

AFP, IGBO-ORA, Nigeria

Twins Kehinde, left, and Taye Olofin pose for a photograph at the Igbo-Ora twins festival in southwest Nigeria on Saturday last week.

Photo: AFP

The sign greeting visitors at the entrance of Igbo-Ora in southwest Nigeria welcomes people to a place unlike anywhere on the planet: “Twins Capital of the World.”

The rather sleepy-looking town boasts of having the highest concentration of multiple births of any place on the globe.

To celebrate its self-proclaimed title, the town hosts an annual festival, now in its second year, that draws hundreds of sets of twins from around the country.

Donning different traditional clothes and costumes, the twins — male and female, old, young and even newborns — sang and danced at the latest edition on Saturday last week to the appreciation of an admiring audience.

“We feel elated that we are being honored today,” Kehinde Durowoju, a 40-year-old twin, told reporters as he hugged his identical brother, Taiwo. “With this event, the whole world will better appreciate the importance of ibeji [twins] as special children and gifts from God.”

Around them, twins moved in procession to show off their colorful outfits as magic displays and masquerades also entertained the crowds.

Population experts have said that the Yoruba-speaking southwest has one of the highest twinning rates in Nigeria.

Statistics are difficult to come by, but a study by British gynecologist Patrick Nylander between 1972 and 1982 recorded an average of 45 to 50 sets of twins per 1,000 live births in the region.

That compares with a twin birthrate of 33 per every 1,000 births in the US, US National Center for Health Statistics data showed.

Igbo-Ora is the epicenter of the phenomenon in the west African country.

Residents in the town, about 100km north of Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, have said that almost every family has some twins.

Traditional leader Jimoh Olajide Titiloye knows all about this special quirk.

“I am a twin, my wife is a twin and I have twins as children,” he told reporters. “There is hardly any household in this town which does not have at least a set of twins.”

He said the festival was aimed at promoting Igbo-Ora as “the foremost twins tourism destination in the world” and that efforts were underway to get the town listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Alaafin of Oyo, a prominent Yoruba ruler, said that the festival “is a celebration of culture and recognition of ibeji as special children in Yorubaland.”

The birth of twins usually “heralds peace, progress, prosperity and good luck to their parents,” he said, adding that parents should always take good care of them.

However, while twins are seen as a blessing by many today, that has not always the case in parts of southern Nigeria. In pre-colonial times, twins were often regarded as evil and were either banished to the “evil forest” or killed.

Scottish missionary Mary Slessor is widely credited with helping to curb the practice in the late 19th century.

Scientists have not said definitively why Igbo-Ora has such a high number of twins, but local residents have a theory that it is down to the diet of women in the town.

“Our people eat okra leaf or ilasa soup with yam and amala [cassava flour],” community leader Samuel Adewuyi Adeleye told reporters.

Yams are believed to contain gonadotropins, a chemical substance that helps women to produce multiple eggs.

“The water we drink also contributes to the phenomenon,” Adeleye added.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top