Nigerian city celebrates its many twins with annual festival

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. trace / treɪs / (v.) – to find the origin of something

    Martin’s illness can be traced to his family history.

  2. delicacy / ˈdɛl ɪ kə si / (n.) – a special or rare kind of food that people like to eat

    Please bring home some special delicacies from India.

  3. hormone / ˈhɔr moʊn / (n.) – a chemical produced in the body that influences the body’s growth and development

    Doing yoga decreases my stress hormones and relaxes me.

  4. uniqueness / yuˈnik nɪs / (n.) – the quality of being very special or unusual

    Working as a teacher has helped me appreciate the uniqueness of every child.

  5. condemn / kənˈdɛm / (v.) – to strongly criticize and say that someone/something is bad or wrong

    Our company condemns all forms of bullying and discrimination.


Read the text below.

Twins appear to be unusually abundant in Nigeria’s southwestern city of Igbo-Ora.

Nearly every family here has twins or other multiple births, says local chief Jimoh Titiloye.

For the past 12 years, the community has organized an annual festival to celebrate twins. This year’s event, held in October, included more than 1,000 pairs of twins and drew participants from as far away as France, organizers said.

There is no proven scientific explanation for the high rate of twins in Igbo-Ora, a city of at least 200,000 people 135 kilometers (83 miles) south of Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos. But many in Igbo-Ora believe it can be traced to women’s diets. Alake Olawunmi, a mother of twins, attributes it to a local delicacy called amala which is made from yam flour.

John Ofem, a gynecologist based in the capital, Abuja, says it very well could be “that there are things they eat there that have a high level of certain hormones that now result in what we call multiple ovulation.”

While that could explain the higher-than-normal rate of fraternal twins in Igbo-Ora, the city also has a significant number of identical twins. Those result instead from a single fertilized egg that divides into two — not because of hyperovulation.

Taiwo Ojeniyi, a Nigerian student, said he attended the festival with his twin brother “to celebrate the uniqueness” of multiple births.

“We cherish twins while in some parts of the world, they condemn twins,” he said. “It is a blessing from God.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Ojeniyi said that he attended the festival “to celebrate the uniqueness” of multiple births. In what ways can the uniqueness of multiple births be celebrated (ex. having a holiday, giving discounts to twins)? Discuss.
  • Many in Igbo-Ora attribute the high rate of twins to women’s diets. In your country, what food is believed to help aid child-bearing/pregnancy? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What do you think is the advantage of having a twin brother/sister? What do you think is its disadvantage? Discuss.
  • Nearly every family in Igbo-Ora has twins or multiple births. Do you think the government should provide some sort of support for these families? Why or why not? Discuss.