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Igbo-Ora: Unveiling the Twin Capital of the World

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In the heart of Oyo State, Nigeria, lies an ancient city steeped in a captivating tale of extraordinary births. Welcome to Igbo-Ora, a place renowned for its remarkable distinction as a melting pot of twin births.

Nestled within Yoruba land, this historical town has garnered a formidable reputation among its neighboring communities and across Africa. Its extraordinary phenomenon of multiple births, where twins and triplets grace nearly every household, has captured the attention of the world. As we delve into the enigmatic tapestry of Igbo-Ora’s twin legacy, we uncover a realm where the extraordinary becomes the norm, and the town stands as a testament to the miracles and mysteries of life.

Igbo-Ora

“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

“Twins are unique creations that are very important, and we Yorubas also count them worthy; God created them in unique ways,” the Alaafin explained.

According to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) article, there are about 158 twins per 1,000 newborns in Igbo-Ora, the twins’ capital of the world, compared to 5 twins per 1,000 newborns in Europe.

“Population experts have a history of giving birth to twins or other multiples also affirm that Nigeria, particularly the South West, has the world’s highest twinning rate, and 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 leaf soup; yams contain gonadotrophins, a chemical that helps women produce multiple eggs,” he said.

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 is worth enlisting in the Guinness Book of Record.

The uniqueness of the annual event is the presence of over 3000 sets of 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 twins 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 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 are basically economic because most of the families that have twins are not financially buoyant enough 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-week-long 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 October 7, featuring exhibition of local games for twins by the community, twin parade, circus performances, twins talent show, and other energetic performances by participating twins and multiple births.

According to personal accounts and anecdotes shared by individuals, the town’s reputation as the twin capital of the world is further strengthened. One person mentioned, “One of my cousins resides in Igbo-Ora; she is not a native of Igbo-Ora and she gave birth to two sets of twins within 4 years of living in this town. It is true ilasa (okro leaves) and yam are contributory factors for their fertility.

These two are the major foods they are consuming in this town. The only vegetable they eat is Ilasa. In the absence of Ilasa, they would eat another leaf called ‘Morogbo’. Also, they are farming in this town; the food they eat is organic coupled with genetic. These are the contributory factors for giving birth to twins.”

Another individual proudly shared, “My dad is from Igbo-Ora; we were born and brought up in Lagos state. My immediate kid sis are twins. I’m more proud of Igbo-Ora and thanks for sharing this unique twin birth to the world.”

Further emphasizing the dietary influence on twin births, someone explained, “The cause of the pervasive twin birth in the town is the type of YAM which they consume there. This yam contains properties which cause fertilized eggs to split.”

Sharing a personal family history, another person added, “My late maternal grandmother was from Igbo-Ora. She had 4 sets of twins, but only the last set of twins survived beyond infancy.”

As we draw the curtains on our exploration of Igbo-Ora, the twin capital of the world, we are left in awe of the marvels that unfold within its ancient streets. This historical city, with its rich tapestry of tales and traditions, has captivated researchers, enchanted visitors, and instilled a deep sense of pride in its inhabitants. Igbo-Ora stands as a testament to the wonders of nature, where the frequency of multiple births defies conventional norms. The annual Igbo-Ora World Twins Festival, a celebration of this extraordinary heritage, has become a beacon of unity and cultural preservation.

As we reflect on the stories shared, the theories proposed, and the personal experiences of those touched by this phenomenon, one thing becomes clear—the spirit of Igbo-Ora transcends the boundaries of science and captures the essence of humanity’s unwavering fascination with the extraordinary. Igbo-Ora, with its legacy of twins, shall forever occupy a special place in the annals of history—a place where the wonders of life continue to unfold, captivating the world with each new generation.

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