My youngest sisters turned 14 yesterday, June 14th. This post is for them. An old post from my Facebook page.
TWINS. EJIMA. IBEJI.
I’m thinking about my youngest sisters – Goodness and Mercy. Twins. I miss them and haven’t spoken to them in weeks. I’m thinking about them when my friend sends me a picture on BBM :
YORUBA TWINS : TAIWO AND KEHINDE
IGBO TWINS :
GOODNESS AND MERCY.
HALLELUJAH AND PRAISE GOD. HYGENIUS AND FAUSTINUS.
I laugh so hard that I didn’t realize “goodness and mercy” was on the list and so I remind her “what of goodness and mercy?” and I laugh again.
But I thought, “Ahh, it’s true oooo…. Igbos do not have any special name for twins…because they were busy saying twins were evil. Twins were badluck”
Thank God for Christianity! Chineke!
In other Nigerian cultures, twins are received with reverence and admiration. Among the Hausa, twins are welcomed and are usually named after the twin sons of Ali, the fourth Caliph in Islamic history. Twin boys are usually named Hassan or Hussain. Twin girls are usually given the feminine versions of these names (Hassana and Hussaina).
In the Yoruba culture, twins are thought to have divine powers and the capability to hurt those who upset them. As such, twins are often treated with special affection, and are regarded as special gifts from God and as bearers of good luck. Multiple births are celebrated, and pregnant women often hope for twins. Additionally, in Yoruba tradition, which teaches that each person is one soul in the long line of ancestral souls, twins are unique because they share the same soul.
Yoruba twins are named according to their birth order, with the firstborn twin called Taiyewo (shortened to Taiwo) meaning ‘the first to taste the world’, and the second-born twin called Kehinde, ‘the last to come’. These are their ‘celestial’ Yoruba names dictated by their birth circumstances. (For more about baby names, check out ‘What’s In A Name’ in this edition).
When the twins are born, Kehinde sends Taiwo to check out what life is like on earth and to tell him or her whether it will be good. Therefore, Taiwo becomes the first child to be born. He/she then communicates to Kehinde spiritually, through the nature of his/her crying, whether life will be good or bad. The reply determines if Kehinde will be born alive or stillborn. Both twins will be stillborn, returning to where they came from, if Taiwo’s reply is not good enough for both of them. The Yoruba traditionally say that Kehinde is the true elder of the twins despite being the second-born, because Kehinde sends Taiwo on an errand, a prerogative of one’s elders in Yoruba land.
Thank God for Mary Slessor…
If not I wouldn’t have known the blessings that are my sisters.
Goodness – the one who came out first. Calm headed. Focused. Reader. Quiet. Melancholic.
Mercy – Crazy. Playful. Cutting herself up and down. Injuries. The one who has the scars. The one every one loves. The outgoing one. Who can imitate every single soul.
The one who will always tell Goodness :
Abeg abeg abeg abeg, everytime you will be disturbing me and telling me do this, do that. The fact that we are twins…. Bla Bla Bla
Mercy, the one who will say, “So because I didn’t follow you to school you didn’t talk to anybody in the class?…
The one who laughs at everything.
These two girls, so different yet so much alike in ways that I can’t explain.
Ibuchi. Ezichi. Their Igbo names. But it’s not …. Tweenish you know?
They give me joy. They make my heart swell.
I want to have twins. I need them. I will eat plenty yams.
So after they were born – I don’t know if their names were a spur of the moment thing but that’s what they answer, Parents in my church who have given birth to twin girls have called their daughters : GOODNESS AND MERCY.
The beauty is calling the both names together. My dad doesn’t know the difference between them today, but they can’t fool me.
I must have twins. I love them so much. God is good. These girls who have opened doors for us and for themselves.
But I’m thinking up my own Igbo twin names. (If you have any idea, pls let me know)
Definitely not HYGENIUS and FAUSTINUS
…Something as deep as…
Taiwo and Kehinde.
N/B : EJIMA : Igbo word for twins.
IBEJI : Yoruba word for twins.
(Read this article please : https://www.ibadaninsider.com/made-in-ibadan/people-of-ibadan/people-of-ibadan-truppr-run-for-scoliosis-5/)
Adriel © 2016
June 15, 2016 at 7:48 pm
Yan biyu: Hausa word for twins. 🙂
June 15, 2016 at 8:50 pm
Thank you so much for this. 🙂
June 17, 2016 at 4:08 pm
My pleasure. 🙂
June 15, 2016 at 8:16 pm
Crixus and Spartacus… 😁😁😁
I’d donate five tubers to the yam barn you’d love to eat…
June 15, 2016 at 8:50 pm
Crixus and Spartacus?! Thank you! I think I’ll pass. But I’ll gladly accept the yams.