The town of Igbo-Ora sits 68 km west of Ibadan, and 80 km north of Lagos. Besides its status as the headquarters of Ibarapa Local Government Area in Oyo State, and hosting a college of Agriculture, it bears no telltale signs of significance observable by a first-time visitor.
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But closer engagement with the locals reveals something truly special. Igbo-Ora has a lot of twins; perhaps more than any other similar-sized location on the planet.
It’s said that every household in this town of over 180,000 residents has at least a set of twins. There’s even an annual ceremony—the World Twin Festival –held in its honour. Igbo-Ora lays claim to being the twin capital of the world.
It’s worth noting that high-frequency twinning isn’t unique to Igbo-Ora. There are at least two locations elsewhere in the world—in India and in Brazil –where this has happened. But Igbo-Ora has a population that’s much larger than both those places.
There’s no exact figure for the number of twins in the town. A study carried out by a British gynaecologist between 1972 and 1982 suggests that there are between 40 and 50 sets of twins per 1,000 live births there. The global rate is between 9 and 12 per 1,000 live births.
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No one knows for sure why Igbo-Ora has such a high rate of twin births. Some researchers have suggested that it’s because of the diet consumed by the mothers of the twins before giving birth. There’s probably some genetic factor involved.
The economy of the town is dominated by agriculture. However, a small segment of its population is employed by schools, and by the local government. Many of the schools there are also government-owned. The people live a simple life.
Residents of Igbo-Ora consider twin children a blessing from God. The celebration of twin births in their community is in sharp contrast with the perception of the phenomenon in the past. Thankfully, Igbo-Ora’s twins live in a world that’s changed for the better in this respect.
Featured Image Source: Reuters
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