Hoang Tung: Hello Laykay, glad to have you in the show. What do you think about Ogbo Ora's nickname “The twin capital of the world”?
Laykay: As far as I know, there are around 150 twin sets in 1000 live birth in the region. That number is extremely high compared to other countries in the world. That in the US is about 30, and in Europe is much lower. Twin birth is a good thing. They are treated with affection, love, and respect. Many African cultures see twins as blessing, which will bring peace, progress, prosperity, and good luck to their parents. Some even believe twins also have divine powers. There was a tradition of mourning a twin died young. The Yoruba people make little votive statues, called “ibeji” representing the deceased to mourn the dearly departed. This cultural heritage is not popular now, but we can still find some “ibeji”, made for commercial purpose though.
| Ibeji (Photo: barnebys.se)
Hoang Tung: So Igbo Ora must have enormous divine power. What do you think is the reason for such high rate of twins or multiple birth in Igbo Ora?
Laykay: This is interesting. Although scientists say it’s merely genetics, local residents have a theory that it is down to the diet of women in the town. One of the town leader once said a regular diet of okra leaf or Ilasa soup with yam and amala, or cassava flour, is the reason. The soup should be eaten immediately and never stored. Yams are believed to contain gonadotropins, a chemical substance that can help boosts production of eggs in women’s ovaries to facilitate the conception of twins and triplets.
Hoang Tung: It must be very fascinating when living in Igbo Ora, right?
Laykay: Yeah. If you walk through the town, you may feel like you are seeing double. Everybody has a copy. Almost every house has at least one set of twins. When you enter the town, you will see a sign saying “Welcome to Igboora – The nation’s home of twins.” In the village, there is a sculpture of a woman, a mother of twins with a baby strapped to her back and another on her chest. Both babies raise up their hands like they are playing and waving “hi” to everyone.
Hoang Tung: Is there a ceremony to celebrate the fact that there are so many twins in the town, as this is considered good luck?
Laykay: Yes, there is. Actually this celebration is quite new. The first “Twin Festival” was held in 2018 celebrated in Igbo Ora community organized by the Oyo State Government. No fewer than 2,500 sets of twins of all age were present at the event. The festival attracted participants from within and outside the country. The festival was a huge success. There were twins’ parade, talent hunt, musical show, and acrobatic displays. The festival was aimed at promoting Igbo-Ora as “the foremost twins tourism destination in the world” and to get the town listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
Hoang Tung: I hope the town will be recognized that title soon. Thank you very much for your interesting story about Igbo Ora.
Culture Rendezvous will be back next week with more stories on different cultural features around the world. I’m Hoang Tung. And now it’s time to say goodbye.