A colourful celebration of twins in Igboora, Oyo State, on October 13, attracted attention. The town, described as Twin Capital of the World, was a fitting place for the Oyo Twins Festival. It is said that more twins are born in Igboora than anywhere else in the world.
The Nation reports that over 2,000 sets of twins reportedly participated in the maiden edition of the festival at the playing field of Methodist Grammar School, Igboora. Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Toye Arulogun, explained what inspired the celebration: “God has uniquely blessed Igboora as a world headquarters of twins because in every household in Igboora, you have a set of twins, at least. This is very unique to Igboora and indeed Oyo State.” However, it is noteworthy that phenomenally high numbers of twin births have also been obsserved in Kodiniji in India and Candido Godoi in Brazil.
The commissioner, who praised the community’s “sense of history, sense of heritage and sense of culture,” also said: “The second thing is that we are now beaming searchlight and spotlight on Igboora as a tourism destination.” It is commendable that the festival resulted from efforts by the Oyo State Government, through its ministry of information, culture and tourism, Ibarapa Central Local Government Area, Igboora Progressive Union, Twins World Creation and the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation. This positive partnership is an inspiring example of cultural collaboration between the public and private sectors.
Twins come in two types: identical and fraternal. It is said that the majority of twins are fraternal or non-identical twins, which are the result of two different eggs being fertilised and resulting in two separate pregnancies in the womb at the same time. On the other hand, identical twins result from a single conception that splits into two.
It is unclear why Igboora is blessed with a remarkably high number of twin births. Research carried out at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital reportedly suggested that a chemical found in Igboora women and the peelings of a type of yam widely consumed in the community could be responsible.
Interestingly, there are other suggestions, particularly by the locals. A report said: “In the main, the people attribute the frequency of twin births to the consumption of Amala and Ilasa meal which is believed to contain some kind of ingredient that boosts production of eggs in women’s ovaries to facilitate the conception of twins and triplets. According to them, Amala (a popular meal made from yam powder in the Southwest of Nigeria) and Ilasa (vegetable soup made from dried shredded okra leaves) are largely responsible for the multiple births.”
Talking of dietary causes, the Olu-Aso of Iberekodo (one of the six communities in Igboora), Oba Jamiu Adedamola Badmus, Ayeleso III, was quoted as saying that the locals used a great quantity of potassium or sodium nitrate (called kaun in Yoruba) when cooking Ilasa, which has been named as a causative factor in the narrative.
There is another possibility: heredity. There is no doubt that the Igboora twin births phenomenon calls for further scientific research. Indeed, it represents a challenge to the country’s scientific circle.
Twins festivals are not new. There are examples across the world: UK Twins, Triplets & More Summer Events, European Twins Day Festival – Italy, France Twins Day Festival, Twins Festival in Poland – Scezcen, Poland, Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, USA.
Others are: Mexican Twins Festival, Puerto Rico Twins Gathering, Australia – Canberra Twins Plus Festival, Sri Lanka Twins Day Festival, Beijing Twins Festival, Festival of Twins in Manila, the Philippines.
The Oyo Twins Festival in Igboora is a laudable event, with a lot of socio-economic value and touristic potential. But the festival requires continuity to achieve its promise. That is the chief challenge the organisers must address.