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Cultural taboos almost cost me my first pair of twins

By Eddie Ssejjoba

Added 25th August 2019 03:49 PM

Her fifth born, a sister of twins was also blessed with a pair of identical twins on her first pregnancy and she is scared of conceiving again, or else she might give birth to twins again, just like her mother.

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Brenda Nakaggwa (the mother of the twins), Katasi’s second pair of twins Sarah Nakato and Rogers Wasswa. Photos by Eddie Ssejjoba

Her fifth born, a sister of twins was also blessed with a pair of identical twins on her first pregnancy and she is scared of conceiving again, or else she might give birth to twins again, just like her mother.

KAMPALA TWINS FESTIVAL                  

KAMPALA - It’s double the giggles, and double the grins, and double the trouble if you're blessed with twins, so goes an anonymous quote about the joy of having twins.

Most mothers of twins, popularly known as Nnalongo in Luganda consider themselves lucky to have one set of twins, and their birth is always celebrated but Margaret Katasi was exceptionally lucky when she ended up with two pairs of twins following each other on her first two pregnancies as a teenage girl.

Her fifth born, a sister of twins was also blessed with a pair of identical twins on her first pregnancy and she is scared of conceiving again, or else she might give birth to twins again, just like her mother.

Getting the news that her first delivery was a pair of twins was a big shock to Katasi, who was still figuring out how to settle and deal with her parents’ anger for conceiving before official marriage.  

 renda akaggwa with her twins esty abirye and uth akato Brenda Nakaggwa with her twins Resty Babirye and Ruth Nakato

 
Her boyfriend, a young man in his early twenties, too, had no experience either but from Rubaga Hospital, the young lovers returned home with the joy of having twins.

Katasi, who lived at Nyanama in Rubaga Division was still under the care of her parents, but conceiving before official marriage had brought her in bad books with everyone at home, who desired her to go through the official marriage ceremonies.

Because of the guilt, the young couple skipped fulfilling some of the traditional kiganda taboos, always associated with twins.

The boyfriend, though he was warned, according to Katasi, he did not visit her parents to ‘announce’ the twins. Consequently, one mysteriously fell sick and died.

It was a big shock and one of the neighbours, realizing that the second twin could follow, asked the father to immediately go to the parents adding that according to the Kiganda beliefs, twins cannot survive once parents from either side were not happy.

“That night he ran to my parents and informed them that I had delivered twins, to their surprise,” she said. According to her, fulfilling the taboo and several other rituals as told, probably saved her second twin, a girl.

Overwhelmed by the many taboos and rituals, Katasi did not anticipate that her next pregnancy would be another pair of twins.

She hoped the next child would console her for having lost one of her twins but was stunned, despite the scan results that showed one baby, when a midwife announced to her in the labour suite that another baby was coming.

nalongo argaret atasi posing for a picture with her second pair of twins ogers asswa and arah akato and her grandchildren who are twins esty abirye and uth akato Nnalongo Margaret Katasi posing for a picture with her second pair of twins Rogers Wasswa and Sarah Nakato and her grandchildren who are twins Resty Babirye and Ruth Nakato

 
“At first I thought she was teasing me,” Katasi said of her experience of 25 years ago. Rogers Wasswa and Sarah Nakato, who follow Babirye were a blessing in a row for Katasi but they doubled the trouble that she had to double her efforts to look after the twins and their elder sister, without a maid.

“I always struggled to look after the children, sometimes relatives came to support me but I never hired a maid,” Katasi, a mother of eight said.

Her fifth born, Brenda Nakaggwa was overwhelmed too, when she learnt that her first pregnancy was a pair of twins. “Although I never expected to have twins, I realized I must have carried my mother’s genes, so I admitted and celebrated their arrival,” said.

She, however, had issues in her relationship and returned home to live with her mother, but had to work hard to acquire a job to look after the babies, Resty Babirye and Ruth Nakato.

She eventually got a job in the Middle East and left the babies with her mother and elder sister, Nakato. “I return home after some time but my twins are closer to my sister and mother than me, but having twins pushed me to look for employment abroad to look after them,” she said.

But Nakaggwa is scared of conceiving again, fearing that she might give birth to twins again, like her mother.

“For now I will not dare to conceive again, I cannot risk having twins again,” she said.

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