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Africa's twins, triplets, quadruplets and more - blessing or headache?

Africa's twins, triplets, quadruplets and more - blessing or headache?


Multiple births are a delight for many and a blessing in the African traditional context. Many African traditions especially in West Africa consider twins and multiples as special gifts from God.

The Yoruba of Nigeria worship twins and the Ga people of Ghana believe multiples must be handled with care because they are gifts from the Supreme Being.

However, the Kpe of coastal Cameroon perform rituals during pregnancy to prevent twins which they consider a bad omen. They are welcome after birth.

Down to the 21st century, multiple births are not necessarily mystical but realistic in the face of economic crisis eating deep into the pockets of middle-income households.

37-year-old Mariam Nabatanzi Babirye in Kabimbiri village of the Mukono District in Uganda has 38 children. Among them are six sets of twins, four sets of triplets, three sets of quadruples and single births.

She was married off at 12 years of age to a 40-year-old man, local Ugandan media the Daily Monitor reported last month.

Mariam is keen on educating her children whose father is not always available. She administers herbal medicine, plaits hair, styles brides and decorates event grounds to make ends meet.

โ€œEverything is solely from my pocket; I buy 10kg of maize flour a day, four kilogrammes of sugar a day and three bars of soap. I need to have Shs100, 000 at the least on a daily basis to have the family catered for. God has been good to me for they have never gone a day without a meal,โ€ she told the newspaper.

In February, a Nigerian woman who gave birth prematurely to quadruplets in London in the United Kingdom was unable to afford the over ยฃ300,000 ($388,020), the BBC reported.

She was taken ill on her flight home to Nigeria from the United States, but ended up at the hospital near Heathrow after her flight stopped over at the airport.

The 43-year-old mother, who lost two of the babies after birth, was three months away from her due date. She was left in a financial dilemma while the hospital was left in a fix as to how to recover the money.

Back home in Nigeria, a young couple were blessed with quintuplets (five children) in April at the National Hospital in the capital Abuja.

The happy mother and her female quintuplets were fine after birth and welcomed with great delight.

The unemployed father, Imudia Uduehi was offered a job with the Federal Civil Service as well as a three bedroom bungalow house by the Head of the Civil Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita.

They previously lived in a one bedroom apartment.

This is not the case for a young Kenyan parent who gave birth to quadruplets (four babies) in April.

The greengrocer mother, Beatrice Begi, and her 27-year-old shop attendant husband Dominic Begi have not yet settled their hospital bill and they spend over $15 on the babies daily.

They told local Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation that they cannot afford to raise the babies and need help.

โ€œInitially it was a shock, later it turned to joy but today, it is a very big challenge that we are struggling to deal with โ€ฆ Our income is little and cannot support the four children,โ€ the mother said.

These are a few stories of multiple births in Africa and there are many others unreported.

Whether a blessing or a headache, your financial ability will determine.