Seventh Son of a Seventh Son


  1. One of the highest rates of twin births in the world is amongst the Yoruba people, especially those from a small town in Oyo state called Igbo-Ora.


  1. Traditionally, Yoruba twins are called Taiwo (also Taiye) and Kehinde. Taiwo being the first of the twins to emerge and Kehinde the second.


  1. Even though Taiwo is born first, Yorubas consider the older twin to be Kehinde. They believe that Kehinde sends Taiwo out into the world to see if the world is suitable. This ties into the Yoruba “respect” culture (air quotes intended) where you only know a person is older by their propensity to send younger people on errands.


  1. A woman’s chances of having twin births increases as she gets older and with each subsequent birth. Thus a woman who has had a few children is more likely to have a set of twins than a woman just starting out.


  1. The Yoruba naming convention for families with twin births is as follows:
    1. The twins are Taiwo (the scout)
    2. and Kehinde (the older)
    3. Idowu comes after the twins (and is short for “I do all the twins’ chores” but is pronounced differently)
    4. Alaba is next
    5. Then Idogbe (rarely seen)
    6. And finally Idohan


  1. The nomenclature clock resets at each set of twins. So a woman with 6 children from 4 births and twins in positions 1 and 3 (and Mars in retrograde) would have Big Taiwo and Big Kehinde, Big Idowu, Little Taiwo and Little Kehinde, and Little Idowu.


  1. However, if a woman has a set of twins and is then able to string together an unbroken line of five single births (in spite of her body’s increasing tendency towards multiple births), it is said that the resulting seventh child would be a being of pure light and magic, the only one capable of wielding the family’s sacred broom and mop, responsible for running all the family’s errands and doing all the housework. And even the Yoruba don’t have a name for it.



h/t @ifemmanuel (