Baba Ibeji is the Orisa of multiple births. He is mostly associated with twin babies. But anytime a woman is delivering multiple births Baba Ibeji is somewhere in the picture. Baba is key to the delivery of multiple babies whether it is by natural means or by artificial assistance such as the procedures responsible for so many women having litters of children. Baba’s main priority is helping to assure the safe delivery of the children who are predestined to be born. In the Yoruba based spiritual system of Ifa, Baba Ibeji rules the Ori of the children who are the result of multiple conceptions. Even if one or more of the fetuses dies before birth and only one survives Baba is ruling their head. And contrary to popular misconception in the Ifa spiritual tradition, Orisas don’t change or exchange their children as if they were little more than baseball cards. Therefore, the birth of twins is not just a blessing, it is a sure fire manifestation of Ibeji, an Orisa.
The foundation for our understanding of the Ifa spirituality was developed several thousand years ago. Ifa is the oldest spirituality practiced on the planet. Ibeji is one of the components of this ancient spirituality. So why would someone pull the idea out of their ass that Africans didn’t adore twins?
An article straight out of Yahoo! says that Nigeria has an unusually high rate of twins being born. According to the article, a Belgian study conducted back in 1995 had discovered that while the rate of identical twins is pretty steady throughout the world at about 0.5 percent of all births, Nigeria enjoys a rate of nearly five percent. But this unique fact about Africa couldn’t be dropped on the public without something negative to accompany it.
The news story went on to say that some people in ancient Africa would kill children of multiple births and the mother. Said this article, “In pre-colonial times some communities used to kill twins and occasionally their mothers, believing a double birth was an evil portent and that the mother must have been with two men to bear two children at once. A Scottish missionary is credited with ending this practice.” Click here to read the full article.
A little research on the internet revealed that the Scottish missionary was Mary Slessor. According to Wikipedia, Ms. Slessor applied to the Foreign Mission Board of the Scottish United Presbyterian Church of Scotland. She was briefly trained then sent to Nigeria at the peak of its turmoil. The slave trade had caused irrecoverable damage to the continent of Africa. Lagos was a major center of activity in the slave trade until 1851, when England, captured the city as part of its hostile colonization of Africa. Nigeria was formally annexed as a British colony in 1861. According to the article ritualized rape, infanticide of twin babies and human sacrifice were all common practices of the natives.
This is the story according to the perspective of Ms. Slessor and civilized society who was on a mission to educate the savages who knew nothing about Christianity but practiced some form of spirituality based on the worst version of paganism, the African kind. Such a career calling hardly qualifies as an impartial observer. It has always been the nature of people to artificially infer superiority by assuming someone else’s inferiority. But when do we get to hear the other side of the story? When do we get to hear the story from the perspectives of the natives? When do we hear the people of Africa’s assumptions regarding the lack of intelligence of the missionaries? It’s not farfetched that the first time African people heard the missionary’s story of how Christians drink the blood of the lamb and eat his flesh on a monthly basis could describe the Europeans as barbaric.
This is not to say that there are no instances of barbarism in Africa’s history. In fact, there are documented cases of barbarism coming out of Africa here in the twenty first century. But there are acts of barbarism coming out of the United States as well. But one of the major differences between these two environments is the fact that we believe that the horrible acts in America are isolated incidents, unless they happen in the black community, while everyone in Africa takes on the stigma of any horrible crime, kind of like the people in the black community back in America.
So should we believe that there were entire villages of people running around killing children of multiple births and the mother because of some superstition that runs contrary to established doctrine that ibeji, the twins, are the manifestation of Baba Ibeji, the Orisa? There is serious doubt about it. Sure there is the possibility that everyone with first hand experience in Africa knows a story of how somebody went off the deep end and killed an ibeji or a family with ibeji. But how many African Americans know stories of our brothers and sisters being abused by the dominant corporate culture and still work feverishly to defend the system that subjugates the black community? How many stories do we hear of people shooting up schools full of children?
With all the stories of men killing their wives we could assume it is the common culture of this country that people believe it’s okay to kill women. But we would never jump to such a conclusion. Why? Because we know for a fact that American culture does not condone violence to women despite the proclivity of this particular crime. To assume otherwise would be to make an assumption based on the deepest ignorance and, quite possibly, the thickest prejudices.
Ibeji are a gift. They have always been considered a blessing by the prevailing African culture. They are the manifestation of an Orisa. If that’s not a blessing I don’t know what is.