Igbo-Ora: The land of twins
There are many good and unique tales from Igbo-Ora, a historical city in Oyo State. The most important tale is that the ancient town is a melting pot of twin birth. Truly, the town is reputable among neighbouring communities in Oyo State, Yoruba land, Nigeria and Africa because of the multiple birth record of twins and triplets in virtually every household.
The frequency of the multiple births is attracting the world, especially researchers and also makes the city worthy of enlisting in the Guinness Book of Record.
Of course, Oba Jimoh Titiloye, Olu of Igbo-Ora, the paramount ruler of the community, is excited at the community’s natural endowment, which is really rare across the world. According to him, many researchers are still trying to unravel the mystery behind multiple twin births in Igbo-Ora, adding that it might be either the environment or the food people of Igbo-Ora eat that make them give birth to many twins, making the town the world’s twin capital.
Oba Titiloye noted that a study conducted by a British gynecologist, Patrick Nylander, from 1972 – 1982 recorded an average of 45 to 50 sets of twins per 1,000 births in the South West of Nigeria, and there are about 30 times more in Igbo-Ora than there are in the whole of Europe.
Buttressing the Oba’s point, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, Alaafin of Oyo, explained that, “There was a particular Alaafin of Oyo, Alaafin Oluaso whose seven wives gave birth to male twins who in turn gave birth to 54 children and that Alaafin built a palace for all of them”.
According to the monarch, Yoruba twins are a special gift from God because they are harbingers of good things and possess what other children do not have.
“Twins are unique creations that are very important, and we Yorubas also count them worthy, God created them in unique ways”, the Alaafin explained.
“Yorubas believe that giving birth to twins brings happiness to the family that is why everybody wants to associate with them either having them as children or as an associate, this makes them have adoring names that are different from all other children”.
According to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) article, there are about 158 twins per 1,000 newborn in Igbo-Ora, the twins capital of the world compared to 5 twins per 1,000 newborns in Europe.
“Population expert has a history of giving birth to twins or other multiples also affirm that Nigeria, particularly the South West has the world highest twinning rate and the Igbo-Ora, the headquarters of Ibarapa Central Local Government has the highest percentage of twins”, Oba Titiloye said.
“In Igbo-ora, nearly every household has a history of giving birth to twins or other multiples, people attributed the predominance of twins in Igbo-Ora to a meal, Amala and Ilasa, morsel meals that combine yam powder (agida) and okra leave soup, yams contain gonadotrophins, a chemical that helps women produce multiple eggs”, he said.
Once again, the historical city of Igbo-Ora will be bubbling on October 9, 2021 as people from all walks of life converge in the ancient town to celebrate this year’s edition of the annual Igbo-Ora World Twins Festival.
The festival is put together by Twins World Creations in conjunction with Igbo-Ora Community Foundation to showcase the tourism and cultural potential of the community, which are worth enlisting in the Guinness Book of Record.
The uniqueness of the annual event is the presence of over 3000 set to twins from different parts of the country, as well as the usual presence of the Alaafin of Oyo/ grand patron of the festival, Eleruwa of Eruwa, and some traditional chiefs from Oyo.
As well, Taiwo and Kehinde Oguntoye, the Ibadan, Oyo State-born twin ambassadors and initiators of the festival, confirmed that being twin has brought a lot of good things to them while saying that the festival was aimed at impacting the state, and Nigeria at large. According to them, “We are of the opinion that the twin festival can be used to boost the economy of Nigeria. This means that twinning can be used to promote and develop tourism potentials in Igbo-Ora. This festival, which started 10 years ago as Naija Twins Festival was repackaged recently for global participation hence World Twins Festival is designed to position Oyo State as the foremost twins tourism destination in the world, initiate the development of twins festival as a unique sponsorship property and create activity around Igbo-Ora towards attracting of pilgrimage to the “land of twins” or “world twins capital” and improving the economy of the town and neighboring areas”.
They added that the challenges facing twins in Nigeria is basically economic, because most of the families that have twins are not financially buoyant to care for them.
This year’s festival is themed, “Twinning for Global Medical Breakthrough”. It is devoted to celebrating the medical team of the National Medical Centre, Abuja that successfully separated the conjoined Martins twins in 2020. According to a statement by the global facilitators of the festival, Ambassadors Taiwo and Kehinde Oguntoye, the gathering will be devoted to the celebration and promotion of the multi-functional twinning cultural heritage of Igbo – Ora (the Land of Twins), while the one weeklong festival will commence on Sunday, October 3, with a special church thanksgiving service at the Methodist Church, Igbo – Ora, followed by traditional cleansing of the town, called Iwure. Other activities include; twins debate competition among twin- students in junior and senior secondary schools in Ibarapa land, twins traditional/cultural games day on October7, featuring exhibition of local games for twins by the community, twin parade, circus performances, twins talent show, and other energetic performance by participating twin and multiple births.