The Mystery of Yam and Twins
When you gaze upon the lovely sight. Of twins, arm in arm, asleep at night. Think not that the house has been doubly messed. But that you, as parents, have been doubly blessed. ~ Jon Bratton
Today, I’m out to take us on a very intimate and exciting trip to a place called Ibarapa Local Governments in Oyo State, Nigeria. Well, for one, this topic is not something I’m new to but it’s something that came to me in a very different light and most importantly, I hope to intimate my non-Nigerian readers with some of the non-prominent cultures and beliefs of the Nigerian people in the Yoruba region. Also, this post speaks for all Ibarapa Local Government Areas. Let me say, there is no South; I know everything that has North probably has South like my father’s place, Abeokuta (there is the North, South Local Governments) but this is what makes Ibarapa kinda unique; they only have Ibarapa Central and Ibarapa East Eruwa Local Governments.
So who are the Ibarapa people? I’m not going to do so much history but according to Wikipedia,The Ibarapas are a Yoruba group of people located in the Southwestern corner of Oyo State. The name of the group is derived from a local cultivar of the melon plant, locally known as Egusi Ibara, (Ive seen it and peeled it; quite different from the common egusi) which was historically acknowledged by neighboring towns like the Egbas, Ibadans, Oyo, etc.
As at 2011, they have a population of 400,000 people. Ibarapa North has 118,880 people. Ibarapa Central has 122,370 while Ibarapa East has 138,900 (they are regions with significant populations in Oyo State. They are mostly Muslims, Christians and the Yoruba traditional worshippers.
Furthermore, The Ibarapas are fondly hailed as Ibarapa mejeeje (The Seven Ibarapas) and this is due to the fact that Ibarapa land is traditionally made up of 7 principal towns with their surrounding villages and farmsteads and these towns are Igangan (my mum is from here), Eruwa, Aiyete, Tapa, Idere, Igbo-ora and Lanlate. Igangan, Tapa and Aiyete are in the Northern Part of Ibarapa while Idere and Igbo-ora are in the Central part of Ibarapa with Lanlate and Eruwa located in the Ibarapa East Local Government.
Plus, the Ibarapa people have a thing for tribal marks and also there is a unique intonation that comes with their Yoruba speaking (it’s really amusing) especially if you were born and practically raised there till forever. My mum don’t but some of my Uncles do and my Dad imitates them a lot whenever he is amongst his in laws and they find it funny that he tends to make jokes out of it. Trust me, it can be really funny but the intonation is like or is exactly the way a popular Yoruba actor by the name Afeez Owo speaks. Afeez Owo is Actress Mide Martins husband (google can help). If you’ve heard him speak before, you’d have an idea of what it sounds like.
Again, they have beautiful rocks in that place! The moment you begin your journey to the land, you’re dazed with beautiful sights of rocks as the car moves. They have one of the most beautiful and magnificent rocks and hills I’ve seen anywhere followed by Idanre/Ondo.
When next I visit, I’d get pictures; lots of them (travelled those places when I was without a better phone).
Clears throat! Where are we headed?
A few weeks back, I came across a post by Sisi Yemmie on Instagram where she talked about making a lot of recipes out of Yam because she desired Twins and she heard consuming a lot of Yam can help achieve that! I was like okay! Then I went into the comment section and mehn, it was 85% affirmation that Yam does help with giving birth to twins and I was like my Biology Teacher forgot to mention that but what was I thinking, Science don’t buy superstitions or environmental beliefs.
So, I said okay. . . then there were these comments that got me holding up. Some people were like it’s true but these yams are special yams found in Oyo State, Ibarapa precisely. I was like are you for real! I’m gonna be right back!????
You’re probably thinking what’s up?
First, I have a thing for twins! Especially the identical ones; quite intriguing and interesting! I love mystery a little – so I love how identical twins make you wonder and think and puzzled. Generally, I love twins! Be it boy and girl, girl and girl, boy and boy!
Second, my mum is from a town called Igangan in Ibarapa North Local Government side of Oyo State (you can tell from the gist up there) and we’ve got a lot of twins in my maternal family and I was beginning to wonder, is it really true? Does Yam have anything to do with it? Is it true there’s a special yam? Cos I was just here thinking it’s more biological; those zygotes breaking into whatever. Mehn, I gotta ask my mum.
So I walked up to my mum and I was like I read this, is it true? And she was like well, maybe! Ok! Then she went ahead to explain to me that it’s possible there is a special yam you can only find in that part of Oyo State.
Well, the point is, she affirmed it and also credited Biology for what is worth. So I sat down and I begin to think and I couldn’t but agree more to a fault.
Well, I’m not superstitious and I’m not more about beliefs but there are facts and I go with that. What do I mean? I started thinking about things that never really occurred to me to think about it beyond the surface level
What are the facts?
1. There was a theory dated 60s and this theory can be traced back to Professor PPS Nylander; an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist who conducted a series of research on the phenomenon of twinning and multiple birth in Ibarapa district of Oyo State (and that includes the three Local Government Areas) and he discovered that this Yoruba people had the highest twinning rates in the world (yes!) (45.1 per 1000 live births) and the twins were usually of the fraternal type (dizygotic -unidentical) which means the women were having multiple ovulations/egg releases in their menstrual cycle which he said could have been triggered by environmental factors and he finally suggested that these factors might be in the local yam being consumed by the people in the area. Wawuuuuu!!!
Now, to the local Yam! Ibarapa people do not eat yam like that; I mean boiled yam; roasted yam; pounded yam, but they eat one thing tirelessly; it’s called. . .
2. Black Amala (Amala dudu); a kind of swallow in Nigeria and a typical Oyo State meal and trust me, it’s my mother’s meal. We eat this thing like forever! Well, I’m an eba eater anyway but I eat amala dudu as well. So, my point is, we don’t really eat pounded yam even same goes for boiled yam but it occurred to me that we do eat yam a lot (I mean we eat a lot of black amala which is made from the back of yam – scraped, washed, sun dried and grinded). And the part that is tricky the most is, my mum buys most of the flour from her place, Igangan! So yes, we have been feeding on that yam ?. My mum is a pro with black amala flour. She knows the one that is fake or not, good not good, so she trusts the one from her place (or has my momma been grooming us for twins??).
2. Where my mum comes from, I can categorically tell you that in a family (nuclear plus extended or minus), you can find up to 8 Taiwos and Kehindes in one house (I’m not exaggerating). Before the yam thing started, I like to think that it was more genetic, so I believed that if I don’t give birth to twins, one of my sisters is bound to give birth to one (I have 4 of them; no brothers) and that ideology was based on the trend in her family.
Let me explain better.
My mum’s mom is a twin (never met her) and she gave birth to a lot (in Yoruba land, we believe it’s not right to count children) and in that lot was my mum followed by twin brothers who are dang identical (I can’t tell Uncle Taiwo from Uncle Kehinde; my mum does that job pretty well) and these Uncles of mine who are twins gave birth to twins separately (like Uncle Taiwo gave birth to twins and Uncle Kehinde gave birth to twins too) and there is another Uncle of mine who gave birth to twins twice and another who I’d like to call Uncle X; he’s better known with one of his sons name; let me just call him Uncle X. So when I was like 8, I could remember having cousins that were twins (a boy and a girl) who were from Uncle X and lately, I was asking my mum about the twins and she told me that the Taiwo (a girl) had given birth and she gave birth to twins and one of her twins already gave birth to another set of twins (mehn! I gave up right there) ‘cause believe me, in my momma’s side, I don’t really know my cousins that much because one minute you’re meeting one who looks like the other and you hear things like Taye kekere, kehinde agba (meaning small Taiwo, Big Kehinde), all in the bid to separate them but they had to start calling them with their father’s sons name when it became much. So you’d hear things like Taye Baba X (Taiwo of Daddy X) and when that man has two Taiwos, you’d hear something like Taye Agba Baba X (Senior Taiwo of Daddy X).
I have never found it creepy; it’s amazing and interesting to me. And all of these is still in my mother’s nuclear family, now imagine me stepping into the Great Aunts, Great Uncles who are still alive, that’s another story cos I know like two of those Great Aunt’s children (yea, different surname cos they married) who were twins. . . and these Great Aunts were twins themselves.
And my mum also gave birth to twins. Yea, I have sisters who are twins (dizygotic)! And how my mum doesn’t miss recognizing all of those twins in her family makes me trip! Lol! You’d want to have twins believe me! It’s beautiful and amazing like it’s quite impossible to enter a family in my mother’s hometown and not find twins in one home – it is like 1 in 100 and mehn, I feel blessed to experience such blessing bestowed on those people.
I am convinced that this part of Nigeria has the highest rate of Twins!!! Highest! Identical, non-identical! And this is not because Professor said so but because I come from there and I know that you can get lost amidst twins!
And in my father’s side, we obviously have twins (coming from my mum lol) and one of my cousins from my father’s side too gave birth to twins (female, identical).
So, yea! I’m proud in moments like this cause I like to feel I come from the bloodline of twins’ carriers ?? and do I still believe one of my sisters or more may pop one even if I don’t, yes I do! I have Uncles in my mother’s nuclear family who didn’t but it’s like one person must sha reproduce the trend (I know I’m sounding superstitious right now lol)
Do I think it has a lot to do with yam or consumption of black amala? well maybe! But I like to believe, it’s God’s natural resources for those people! Like Tin is to Jos, so is twins to Ibarapa, Oyo State?
Again, I feel that stuff is more dominant in the females than the males (the twin thing). It’s like 60-40 but when a man with twins in his family also marries a woman with twins, it’s like ?boom lakalaka boom? (just me trying to imagine, but really, it’s that serious).
Should I say more? Nah! Let me just stop! Having this conversation with my mum, I could tell she had never seen it that way until I asked. . and for me, I think it’s about time I eat more of that amala than my eba now????
I hope you found this quite interesting, eye opening, intriguing and mindblowing.
With the above narratives, are you tempted to think this is more than Biology and lucky copulation? Do you think Yam has anything to do with giving birth to twins? Do you think there’s a special yam that can only be found in Ibarapa part of Oyo State? Have you ever heard this story as related to twins before? Kindly share your thoughts with me in the comment section.
PS: Lest I forget, if you’re single and a lover of twins so much that you don’t mind giving birth to them twice and more, a lady from Ibarapa is your best bet or better still, a lady with the Ibarapa root (you know like me but not me you get) cos believe me, they breed twins in that place.
Till I come your way again,
Keep refreshing this space,
You can spend too much time wondering which of identical twins is the more alike. ~ Robert Brault