African Culture And Women

About African Women, Culture and who they Are In The Society.

Information on Twins in West Africa.

Posted by cultureafrico on February 28, 2011

Culture Africo

As I mentioned before, being a Manyi opened my eyes to the significance of twins in West African culture. Through my research so far I have discovered that most ethnic groups in Cameroon and Nigeria have had some kind of reaction to the birth of twins. From what I’ve read and the people I’ve spoken to, it seems that most of them heralds twins as gifts from God. Twins are also often seen as a double edged sword. They are indeed gifts from God but also posses divine powers with the ability to harm those who cause them displeasure. The parents especially must be careful in how they treat their twins for the twins can either die or cause illness to befall those who cross them wrongly. I’ve been told that many twins are spoiled as everyone lets them do as they wish.
Traditionally there were several rites and rituals performed when twins were born. With the introduction of Christianity these rituals were frowned upon and nearly stopped. The Grassfields have only really been influenced by Christianity for the last 40-60 years so many of the traditional practices are still remembered. This area is also reported to have an indigenous written language so these practices would have been carefully recorded. It has been observed in the last decade many traditional rituals have been revised as so many twins were actually dying! The people noticed that only when twins were treated with utmost respect and fed salt and palm oil did they grow healthy and strong. As an ethnoarchaeology student I am interested in physical items associated with twin rituals. If an archaeologist excavates a village, how will this person recognize that twins were present? What can they look for to distinguish between a house where twins lived and a house where a regular child lived? How can twins be recognized in a grave yard? What is different about a twins’ life and death? There had been a lot of ethnographies written about this area, but not many specifically target twins. The problem with those that do target twin culture is that they do not describe the material items associated with rituals. This is where my work will have to fill in the blanks.

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