Parents of twins would turn to wizards who were making rules they felt they had to follow to keep their children and themselves safe, said Sawadogo, who did his doctoral research on mothers of twins. These beliefs and practices persist today despite the established scientific explanation for how twins come into the world.
Zagre and her husband, Ousmane Nikiema, visited a wizard after giving birth to the two pairs of twins. For their boys, the parents were not given any directives. But a wizard told them that their daughters, Victorine and Victoria Nikiema, must beg for money on the side of the road or risk being killed by the spirit of a family member.
“If (the wizard) sees a spirit in the compound, you will have to take the children to beg in order to avoid the curse,” said Nikiema, who lives with her family in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. “(The spirit) may not kill them, but it will do something to them. He can drive them crazy or something similar, or he can cripple them.
All over Ouagadougou, identically dressed mothers and their twins can be seen sitting on mats along the roads and begging. They are driven by dream requests and wizarding instructions, mothers told The Associated Press.
While begging, visitors offer gifts, such as chickens, honey cakes, and seashells, in exchange for blessings.