2019 Photo Contest, Portraits, 1st Prize

Land of Ibeji


Bénédicte Kurzen and Sanne de Wilde


19 April, 2018

Two of the 130 children living in an orphanage in Gwagwalada, Nigeria, where some of the children have lost a twin sibling or were rejected by their community after their mother died during childbirth—an event seen as bringing bad luck.

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 (b. 1980) is a photographer working on cross cultural narratives and mythologies, opening the door to possible redefinitions of social concepts. She was part of ...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
35 mm

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