2019 Photo Contest, Portraits, 1st Prize

Land of Ibeji


Bénédicte Kurzen and Sanne de Wilde


08 April, 2018

At an orphanage in Gwagwalada, Nigeria, a child plays behind a dress on a washing line, symbolically signifying children whose twin has died. Traditionally, if one twin dies the surviving sibling should not be portrayed without their ‘second half’. 

Nigeria has one of the highest occurrences of twins in the world, particularly among the Yoruba people in the southwest. In the southwestern town of Igbo-Ora, dubbed ‘The Nation’s Home of Twins’, reportedly almost every family has at least one set. In 2018, the town hosted a Twins Festival, attended by over 2,000 pairs. The first-born twin is usually called Taiwo, meaning ‘having the first taste of the world’, while the second-born is named Kehinde, ‘arriving after the other’. Communities have developed different cultural practices in response to this high birth rate, from veneration to demonization. In earlier times, twins in some regions were considered evil, and vilified or killed at birth. Nowadays, the arrival of twins is generally met with celebration, and many think they bring good luck and wealth. Two color filters were used, to express duality: of identity, of photographers, and of attitude to twins. 

About the photographer

Bénédicte Kurzen and Sanne de Wilde

Bénédicte Kurzen is a french photographer, based in Lagos, Nigeria. Sanne de Wilde is from belgium and is currently living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. www.noorimage...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
34 mm

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