NIGERIA, Gwagwalada, April 2018.
A child plays with the laundry drying in the sun.
‘’The twin, in Yoruba beliefs, stands for the idea of a human being having a spiritual counterpart, an unborn spirit double. In case of twins the spiritual double has been born on earth -while the twin-soul usually resides in the heavens. ‘Ibeji’ meaning ‘double birth’ in Yoruba language, refers to the inseparable two; the prenatal bond of an individual and her/his spirit double; a bond testifying ultimate unity; one cannot be without the other.
A twin is not supposed to be portrayed without their 'second half' 'ibeji'. This faceless portrait of a child playing behind a dress on the washing line is a symbolic hommage to twins in the orphanage who's second half passed away.''
The Vine Heritage Home Foundation is an orphanage situated in Gwagwalada, one hour drive from the Federal Capital, Abuja. It was founded by Olusola Stevens and his wife an affiliate of Christian Missionary foundation. The two missionaries created a shelter for children whose life was endangered by the infanticide practices performed by the neighbouring Bassa communities.
If a mother dies during child birth or while nursing a baby, the baby is considered evil and must therefore be buried (alive) with the deceased mother. Over 70% of the children currently living in Vine Heritage Home were rescued for this very reason. The belief that twins (multiple births) are an abomination makes them suffer a similar fate. Twins are killed shortly after birth; being left to starve, poisoned, or buried alive.
Twins and other children killing is illegal in Nigeria. The criminal code section 316 defines the conditions of the homicide. Yet, the government agents struggle to stop the practice.