Ayopo Ogunleye: The father raising five sets of twins alone

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Ayopo Ogunleye, who has fathered five sets of twins, has become something of a local celebrity in western Nigeria.

He told BBC Yoruba he was now bringing up his children alone in the Ado-odo area of Ogun state as his wife left years ago after her parents complained that she was having too many twins.

Now in his 40s, he is raising seven children as the couple lost the first set of twins as infants and a boy from the last set also died.

Mr Ogunleye said he had not been expecting twins the first time his wife conceived and was surprised when he was called from the hospital.

“When I heard that my wife had given birth, I asked if it was a boy or girl, and they said I had twins.”

This was a dream come true for him.

“I had been praying about it from childhood, I gave thanks to God. I hugged my wife and congratulated her.”

The Yoruba community, mainly found in western Nigeria, has one of the highest rates of twin births in the world.

Twins are called “Ibeji” and culturally they believe they have to be followed by a single birth – known as “Idowu”.

But Mr Ogunleye said each time his wife became pregnant, it was twins.

“Second time twins, third time twins, fourth twins, fifth twins,” he said.

The reason for having so many twins remains a mystery to him: he says he does not eat anything special or do anything differently to others.

Despite the financial and physical constraints of raising so many children, he would like to have more and hasn’t ruled out marrying again.

“Children are blessings from God,” he said.

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