I have been in the South East in the past one week, meeting and interviewing Igbo identical twins. Enthralling experience. I’m making a short documentary called Ejima: Two Bodies, One Soul. It’s a personal narrative about identical twins in Igbo land and the telepathic connection between the ‘two.’ One other thing I will be doing is to rewrite the lies about Mary Slessor. As a child, in primary school, a certain lie was told to us that a certain Scottish missionary was credited with having stopped the killing of twins among the Efik, a particular ethnic group in Nigeria. Because of naivety, one had to believe this, but as I dug deeper, I found out that in Igbo land, the twins had always been revered and respected, just as they are in Yoruba culture. In Igbo cosmology, identical twins are known as One Soul, Two Bodies. This film will try to decipher the mystery and telepathic connection between these two bodies: why they must feel each other’s pain, cry when the other is crying and feel hurt when the other is wounded. Would it be wise to separate identical twins and don’t expect a repercussion?
They are called ‘Ejima’ in Igbo and ‘Ibeji’ in Yoruba.’ Ji’ in Igbo can be said to be ‘hold’, which makes it more meaningful, by suggesting that we can say, ‘Ejiri mara.’ Or ‘e ji mmadu abuo’ – that is to say, ‘ejiri mara’ (personification) and ‘e ji mmadu abuo’ (holding two people together). The Igbo people have long abandoned the ethos of their cultures and traditions and values. They revel in the cultures of the West, thereby, thinking theirs to be absolutely archaic and primitive. The aim of this film is to reposition the twins in the world where they belong and to disperse the long-held notion that Mary Slessor, a colonialist, ‘stopped the killing of twins.’ There is no historical proof that twins were ever killed in the Igbo land. The Europeans made up the lies. What we are aware is that twins were seen as mysterious, dangerous and very spiritual. They were the sort who were called to sit beside sickbeds and by just holding the hand of the sick person, one got healed. Could it be that they have lost their powers? No. Twins who still understand their spirituality are seen as miracle workers. No doubt the Igbos were quick to accept the lies of the colonialists. Looking back, the twins were honoured and revered just as other people, even people with albinism.The stories recorded by the colonialists were blindly accepted, to mete out hate on twins.