African Culture And Women

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

The Oku Kingdom (Twins)

Posted by cultureafrico on February 28, 2011

Culture Africo

The Oku Kingdom:
In the Oku tradition of the Western Grassfields twins are definitely highly regarded as magical beings with the ability to play tricks or even harm others if not treated appropriately. Twins are fed a mixture of ritual brown salt and oil at birth and a special ritual is performed. A mother of twins must carry a long neck calabash (a gourd) when she goes out in public. This is corked with a dracaena plant leaf, this plant is often associated with twins in Cameroon.

Twins are not given any masks or sculptures in the Oku kingdom but they have some traditional items. They are not given anything separately but share each ritual object. They are given a single bag, a single clay soup pot and a decorated clay wine pot. The pots are painted in the middle with a large eye, black in the centre surrounded by white. Three horizontal white lines are drawn with a finger at its mouth…the white colour is made from kaolin (a chalky white clay also known as Calabar chalk). This pot sits on a circular base of banana leaves with a garland of kefu feyin creeper tied round the mouth of the pot. It is important to note such stylistic differences so we may notice this in an excavation. If an archaeologist found such a pot from a long ago village, they would know it is special for twins!

When a twin dies it is buried as fast as possible with two leafless neck garlands. If one is living, it is given salt and oil and the twin rite is performed. If both die before the ritual, then they are buried with no ceremony, the Oku do not believe in reincarnation and once a child is dead, it is gone. At birth the placentas are buried in two separate but adjacent graves, if the twins die at this time the placentas are still buried but are buried at the twin specialist’s home while the twins are buried at the father’s home.

Small reptiles and insects are considered the animals of twins, they can transform into these, and must not be killed by the parents of twins

The Kedjom:
Among the Kedjom twins are considered to be children of God and are treated as such. Gods are worshipped at conspicuous places such as waterfalls, pools or the base of striking and unusual trees. People join at these places to ‘feed’ the God on a shrine that consists of a large, flat stone approximately 18-24 inches in length. Planted on either side is the nkung plant, a type of dracaena. This is a fast growing green plant that remains such in times of drought. This plant seems to be associated with twins all over the Grassfields. These shrines are placed in compounds in the village at the entrance of the father of twins’ compound. They are identical to the one made for Gods. If there are two boys, the shrine is placed on the right of the path leading to the compound, two girls means the shrine is on the left and one of each allows this shrine to be on either side. The plants are placed on either side in the same position as at the God’s shrine.

A striking and prominent shrine is also found within the kitchen of a twin mother. This consists of a collection of large and small clay pots and calabashes, a rattle and two snail shells. These are used for mixing the medicine and food used by the twins, their parents, their siblings and any other parents of twins who visit.

As twins are associated with fertility, a garden space is dedicated to the twins. Parents of twins plant two beds of plants in the centre of the farm and a dracaena seedling is planted on either end. The special status of these beds is marked by four corncobs tied together by the twin’s mother and left at the site. The corn harvested from these beds is kept aside and used as the seeds for the next year’s crops.


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