Why a twin is not a child: symbols in Kapsiki birth rituals

TitleWhy a twin is not a child: symbols in Kapsiki birth rituals
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsW. E. A.van Beek
Secondary TitleJournal de la société des africanistes
Pagination119 - 147
Date Published2002///
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrica, birth rites, Cameroon, Country, Kapsiki, Nigeria, twins

On no continent are there as many twins as in Africa, and in no other area of Africa does the rate of twin births come near to that of West African countries like Nigeria, Benin and Togo, where the rate of twin births is over 2.5 per 1000. This article examines the position of twins among the Kapsiki of Cameroon and Nigeria through a comparison of the differences in cultural constructs of a 'normal' (single) birth and a twin birth, and through an analysis of the symbols and rituals surrounding the various types of birth. It appears that among the Kapsiki birth rites for 'normal' births gradually incorporate the infant into the kin group, protecting the mother and the child against evil influences. Twin birth rites are quite different. Other symbolic objects and a specific discourse are used. Twins form a special society within Kapsigi villages, due to the danger they are believed to pose for their parents. The symbolic position of twins is related to male initiation. The author concludes that twins are symbolically positioned on the fringe of Kapsiki society. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [ASC Leiden abstract]

IR handle/ Full text URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1887/9505
Citation Key777