page contents

Twinship Around the World

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of the featured characters are coincidental. However, the information illustrated in the story are based on historical facts with the sources listed below or through hyperlinks. A word of caution: there may be intentional bias as the characters interact as we see events happening from their perspective.


Mr. Nev is a historian who has successfully built a time-machine in the basement of his house and goes back in time to view events occurring around the world. One day, Mr. Nev sees Doctrina, his 12 year old neighbor, playing in the yard. He continues to observe the child and learns that she is very interested in learning about history! Mr. Nev volunteers to become her history tutor and using his invention, he takes her back in time to view history in the making.


“So where or what will we be exploring today, Mr. Nev?”, Doctrina asks her brainy tutor ecstatically. “Well Doctrina, in lieu of National Twins Day, we shall explore the origins of twins and their significance in the ancient world.”, Mr. Nev explains.


“In different ancient civilizations, the origins of twins or the stories behind how twins come about are very different. Our first stop: Ancient Greece” he said.


The pair arrived at their destination in the blink of an eye. They stood behind the columns to observe an interaction, only to notice one of the twins was showered with public admiration while the other took to the shadows.


Heracles & Iphicles, sons of Alcmene.

Mr. Nev explained, “That’s Heracles and Iphicles, sons of Alcmene. In Ancient Greece, the Greeks believed that when a woman is blessed with twins, it is because the woman bedded a mortal and a god on the same day.” Overhearing their conversation, the man in the shadows, Iphicles, walks over to them and growls, “Do you have any idea what it’s like to grow up in the shadows of your brother who’s given the title of the ‘single greatest of all Greek Heros’?”.


“It’s so unfair that he was granted all these powers and has even gained immortality after completing the Twelve Labours. I’m always the sidekick when we go on missions together.”, Iphicles began ranting, kicking up a cloud of dust around them.


Mr. Nev gently pulled Doctrina away. “ Being twins can sometimes breed unhappiness since one is treated with less respect than the other. Do we still see traditions like this today?” he asked Doctrina. “Well, we have to keep moving, we have many stops to go.”


A minute later, the pair arrive at their next destination. Upon arrival, Doctrina commented, “Mr. Nev, are you sure we’re at the right place? This place doesn’t look much different from the previous place”.  


“That’s a great observation, Doctrina. It’s true, we’re still in Greece but in a different time. Here we’ll see another belief of the Greek, where they believe that twins represent the dualism of the universe.


Apollo & Artemis (Sun and Moon Goddess)

Soon we’ll see the birth of Apollo and Artemis, the sun god and moon goddess respectively. While their titles appear grand, they were mistreated by Hera for a large part of their early life. This was because Hera was extremely jealous that Leto was able to seduce her husband, Zeus. Lord Zeus felt great sorrow and pity for Leto, their mother, and them so bestowed upon them their titles.” Mr. Nev told Doctrina. In the distance they could see Leto giving birth to Apollo by the lake.


As they walked towards the time machine, Mr. Nev said “Despite being in the same place, the understanding of the origins of twins are so different, aren’t they?”.


After breaking for lunch, the pair arrived at a jungle in America where two hunters were deep in conversation with what seemed to be a spirit. “Enumclaw and Kapoonis, you have brought great fear to the villagers with your brute strength and power.”, the spirit boomed. “ This goes against our original contract! As punishment, Enumclaw shall hereby be banished as a thunder spirit while Kapoonis shall become the lightning spirit.”


While the brothers roared in anguish, Mr. Nev pointed to the spirit and said, “That man standing there is the Sky Father. Here in Native America, twins are are also seen to represent the dualism because of this legend.”


“The next stop shall be our last.”, Mr. Nev said, ignoring the protests of Doctrina as he pushed several buttons on the dashboard.


They arrived in Africa, where they see not just one pair but a few pairs of twins. “Yoruba view twinship, or ibejis, as bringers of either fortune or misfortune to their family, depending on how they are treated. For this reason, you can see that they are given special attention. They could bring anything from death and disaster to happiness and health to the family, hence they are treated with a lot more leniency compared to the other children. Let me try something interesting here.” Mr. Nev cleared his throat and shouted “Taiwo!” Several heads turned to Mr. Nev’s direction.


Mr. Nev chuckled slightly as he explained, “Twins are always given the same names. Taiwo to the first born and Kehinde to the second born, regardless of gender. Coincidentally, Yoruba has the highest twin rates.”


“On this note, let’s head home where National Twins days is set to take place in a few days time in Twinsburg, Ohio. ” Mr. Nev was about to continue when he sees Doctrina in the seat next to him, fast-asleep, tired from a whole day of adventuring. “I guess it’s time to head home then, little one” he chuckled.



  7. Leroy Fernand; Olaleye-Oruene Taiwo; Koeppen-Schomerus Gesina; Bryan Elizabeth. "Yoruba Customs and Beliefs Pertaining to Twins" 5 (2). pp. 132–136.       George Chemeche; John Pemberton; John Picton (2003). Ibeji: The Cult of Yoruba Twins Volume 2 of Hic sunt leones. 5 Continents. ISBN 978-88-7439-060-1.