|Paul Orok Ephraim, Mrs Nancy Adebiyi and Peter Edem Ephraim|
When Mary Mitchell Slessor a Scottish missionary to Nigeria stopped the killing of twins among the Efik almost a century ago; she never knew that she was protecting the generations of late Prince Micheal Mbo Okon Ephraim, the father of Paul Orok Ephraim and Peters Edem Ephraim, an identical twins of Efik descent, Akpabuyo local govt area of Cross River State who were born December 8 1977.
Prince Michael Mbo Okon Ephraim was a staff of the University of Ibadan; he had his own children in Ibadan. The duo had remained in Ibadan and they now have their own twin in Ibadan also. Paul had a set of twins on May 8 2012 while Peter had a set of twins on December 5 2015. Sadly, their father never saw his grandchildren who are sets of twins as he passed on in 2004 at the age of 75.
Paul Orok Ephraim said that giving birth to twins ran in the family almost a century before he was born. His uncle, late Group Captain Emmanuel Ibok, a Civil War Veteran and a traditional title holder, told them stories of their lineage and added that giving birth to twins ran in the family ages ago. Interestingly, the wives of both Paul and Peter do not have twins in their families.
According to Paul, people were awestruck when his twin brother gave birth to his own set of twin after three years when he had his own set of twin. As nature has would have her way, the twins of both Paul and Peter are not identical like their fathers.
Asides from the Efik people, the Yorubas too have the birth of twins running in the linage. Worthy of note is a town in Oyo State called Igbo-Ora, where it is claimed that more twins are born than anywhere else on earth and that there are just few households who do not have at least one set of twins in their family. This has also been shown by birth statistics which stated that there are 158 twins per 1,000 births in Igbo-Ora, while in Europe there are five twins per 1,000 births. The people of Igbo-Ora attribute the predominance of twins in their land to their indigenous Àmàlà and Ìlasà meal. Àmàlà is a popular morsel meal made from yam powder and is popular within the SW region of Nigeria, while Ìlasà is a vegetable soup made from dried shreded okro leaves.
Extensive studies on multiple births have been conducted, showing that yams contain the chemical gonadotrophins, which helps women produce multiple eggs. Other causes that can result in having twins are when it is hereditary; older women over 30 also have a greater chance of multiple conception; high parity and African-American women are more likely to have twins than any other race. Asian and Native Americans have the lowest twinning rates. Caucasian women, especially those over age 35, have the highest rate of higher-order multiple births. Other factors which are technologically induced are- ovulation stimulating medications which help produce many eggs and In-Vitto Fertilization (IVF).
The coming of a twin into any family is considered a blessing and they turn around the fortune of the family and they are so eulogized in these words, ‘Won so ile alakisa d’ile onigba aso’. Here is short praise poetry for twins in the oral tradition of the Yoruba-
(c)Olutayo IRAN-TIOLA, Lagos, Nigeria