Folk Beliefs regarding twins


Saran Kaba grew up in Gabon. Her family is mostly from Gabon and Guinea, and strongly identify with Mandingo culture which is prevalent throughout the region. Saran immigrated to the United States in 2014, where she now lives and studies at the University of Southern California.

Original Script:

“So twins, in my culture, are, like, considered very, very, like they have…  I don’t know like they’re really considered very sacred. You know? And just are seen as being very, like, bringing luck to the family. But, like, they are considered to be very powerful, so like, they bring luck and they have this… you know like they have this, they are gifted in some ways. And the person born after the twins, like after a set of twins is the most powerful. So like he has more gifts than, like, the twins. So like I told you, twins are like gifted, like they have like super powers, and like, they can sometimes feel things, which I guess is n every culture, or like see things. Let’s say, for example, they dream about something – it will usually happen, or if they say something, like they feel, like, together, it will usually like happen. But we were taught that the person born after twins, is more powerful than the twins, so we give that person more respect because it is said that that person is like, maybe a hundred times more powerful than the twins, so that’s that.”

Informant’s Background Knowledge and Relationship with this Piece:

Saran has cousins who are twins, and though she hasn’t had much interaction with them, knows that they are very respected by the family. She learned these things about twins from her mom.

Thoughts About the Piece:

Mandingo culture praises childrearing and fertility, and perhaps this plays into why two children would be considered special over a single child. I think it is interesting that the younger sibling of twins would be more powerful than the twins themselves: perhaps this simply plays into the same idea of fertility. Twins are also a rare and special phenomenon: two children, who look almost the same and would be raised in a similar environment, yet often display very different personalities. The intrigue of twins as a whole might be a factor contributing to this belief.