Benin

Twins Are Forever

Life, death, monkeys and beans in the syncretic cult of African twins

In one specific area in Africa between Nigeria and Benin, especially among Fon, Ewe and Yoruba population, there is the highest natural twin birthrate in the world. In other African areas, a mother who birthed two twins was accused to have had intercourses with spirits and then killed with her babies. But in the region facing the Gulf of Guinea, twin births are considered lucky, positive events, and a syncretistic cult of twins, with altars and offers to be made, has been built. If one of the twins die, the mother carves a statuette in his/her memory. Nobody will consider that twin dead, he just ‘left for the forest’. Dead twins are often identified with the monkeys living in the forest sacred to the voodoo divinities, while their mothers keep the statues as real children, taking care of them as they were still present in the family.

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