Yoruba Special Children – Ibeji

Táíwò and Kehinde are the Yorùbá names given to twins, otherwise known as Ìbejì in Yoruba land. Táíwò is the shortened form of ‘Tọ́ ayé wò’, which means to ‘Taste the world’ while Kéhìndé, on the other hand, means to ‘arrive last.’ Although Táíwò is the first of the twins, the Yorùbá people believe that Kehinde is the older of the twins. A belief holds that Kehinde sends Taiwo to taste the world and see if it is a suitable place to be, signal them to arrive, and announce the arrival of the other twin. Hence, the reason why the Yoruba people eulogize Kehinde by saying ‘akẹ́hìndé gba ẹ̀gbọ́n’, which means the ‘one who arrived last took the position of the older.’ This is an exception contrary to the Yoruba belief in younger ones respecting their older siblings; in this case, Kehinde is the older sibling.
The Yorùbá people also believe that twins have supernatural powers, which is why they venerate the twins (twin deities).
Táíwò and Kéhìndé are unisex names; the Yoruba people also call them ‘Èjìrẹ́’. They believe that twins brings good fortune into a family, hence the eulogy of twins in Yoruba is as follows:
Èjìrẹ́ ará Ìsokùn
Ẹdúnjọbí ọmọ agbórí igi rétérété
Ń bá bí ǹ bá yọ̀
Ọ̀ bẹ́ ṣìkì ṣákátá
Ó fi ẹ̀sẹ̀ méjèèjì
Bẹ́ sílé Alákìísà
Ó sọ Alákìísà donígbá aṣọ
Bú mi kí n bá ọ délé
Kì mí kí n padà lẹ́yìn rẹ
Ẹdúnjọbí ọmọ olókun ọlà.

What else do you know about twins in Yoruba culture? Share with us in the comments…

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