History & Culture

Igbo-Ora: The Nation’s Home of Twins

“Igbo-Ora nibi ti Ibeji bibi po si ni gbogbo agbanla aye”, is one of the lines extracted from the panegyrics of Igbo-Ora and it translates to mean a place with the highest number of twin births in the whole world. Without a doubt, Igbo-Ora has many good and unique tales; one of which is that the ancient town is the melting pot of twin birth.

Entering Igbo Ora town, you need no soothsayer to tell you it is a town of twins because a notification which welcomes visitors and reads thus: “Welcome to Igbo-Ora, the Nation’s Home of Twins”, has been placed at the entrance of the town.

Due to the multiple birth records of twins and triplets in virtually every household in the community, the ancient town has become reputable and prominent among neighbouring communities in Oyo state, Yoruba land, Nigeria and Africa. It is therefore safe to say that Igbo-Ora is worthy of being enlisted in the Guinness Book of Record.

Igbo-Ora, a town and headquarters of Ibarapa Central, Oyo state, South-western Nigeria is situated 80 kilometres North of Lagos. The population rate keeps multiplying as a result of the high rate of birth twins in the town. As at 2017, the population was estimated to be around 278,514 people, which over doubles the previous population. 

The unusually large number of twin births in the region, have earned the town the nickname “Twin Capital of the World” andthis explains the sculpture of a mother carrying a baby on her chest with another strapped on her back, conspicuously erected at the entrance of the town. Walking through the town might make you feel like you are seeing double because almost every house, has at least one set of twins.

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According to history, Igbo-Ora derived its name from a verbal challenge posed to a friend. It was said that there were two friends; one lived in the town while the other lived in the forest. The latter occasionally comes to town to pass time with his friend. He got so used to this that sometimes he would not feel like going home. 

However, one day, this town-dweller friend asked his other friend to go back to the forest he bought (Igbo o ra). Ever since, the saying became a household name with which the town is identified. Those are the boldly written words that a first time visitor to the ancient town of Igbo Ora is bound to see, as they pass through its main entrance.

Overtime, a lot of people have attributed the predominance of twins in Igbo-Ora to a constant consumption of okra leaves otherwise called ‘ewe ilasa’. It is also their view that being delivered of twin babies is part of the community’s age-old tradition that has existed for centuries.

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In another clime, it is believed that the consumption of Amalaand Ilasa meal which is said to contain some kind of ingredients that boost production of eggs in women’s ovaries, facilitate the conception of twins and triplets. According to the people, Amala(a meal made from yam powder) and Ilasa (vegetable soups made from dried shredded okra leaves) are largely responsible for the multiple pregnancies.

Another belief is that giving birth to twins could be genetic. The facts available clearly reveal that there is hardly a family in Igbo-Ora that has no set of twins. The reproduction of twins in the town has become interesting to the extent that people from different parts of the country who are not privileged to have twins or children, may have clamoured that they would prefer to visit and stay in the enclave, to enable them conceive and have twin babies.

To underscore the appreciation for this gift of life, the state government, with the support of other stakeholders, facilitated the maiden “Twins Festival” which was held on Saturday October 13, 2018 in Igbo-Ora Community, to honour and bring together young and old twins from all ages, genders and families. 

Meanwhile, the town is quite poor because there’s no big industry or a university or something else that would attract finance. Local people live out of what they can grow in their gardens and farms. Majority of the town dwellers are employed in civil services or do some petty trading to make ends meet. Some of the locals who have trucks are engaged in the transportation of charcoal from the nearby natural deposit. Apart from being known for having multiple record of twins and triplets, Igbo Ora is also known to be one of the largest charcoal-producing town in Nigeria.

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As of today, Igbo-Ora houses the Oyo State College of Agriculture which has contributed significantly to the socio-economic and demographic development of the town. The Oyo state government was also said to have approved the location of a High Court of Justice in the town. 

“Igbo-Ora nibi talejo wo, tolowo lowo” and “Igbo-Ora, nibi tiwon ti nse ila orere falejo je” which translate to mean a place where a visitor dwells and becomes wealthy as well as a place where visitors are being offered okro soup as meal, are lines extracted from the panegyrics of the ancient town. This part of the panegyrics, shows that the people of Igbo-Ora are happy to welcome and accommodate everyone with lots of love and friendliness, including a perfect stranger.

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