The Odetola twins were the cynosure of all eyes at the 17th graduation of Taidob College last Saturday. They made the same grades in the same subjects they took in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). Was it happenstance? Or do they share the same mental capacity? ADEGUNLE OLUGBAMILA and OLUWATOYIN ADELEYE reports.
What do we call this? Intellectual compatibility? Shared destiny? Departure from the age-long belief that twins are born different? Odetola twins seem to have debunked that notion.
Taiwo and Kehinde Odetola were born on November 26, 1997, with similar physical features. They started primary school together, scoring almost the same scores as high flying pupils; proceeded to secondary school together, wrote the same subjects in the West African Senior School certificate Examinations (WASSCE) and had six distinctions and three credits in the same subjects. They secured admission the same year into the University of Ibadan (UI) Taiwo is studying Civil Engineering and Kehinde, Petroleum Engineering.
The lads took the shine off other graduating students of Taidob College in Asero Estate, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, during the school’s 17th graduation and prize-giving day last Saturday. The school management gave them Special Recognition award with cash prizes and scholarships, courtesy of the Dr. Abayomi Oluwatosin Jibokus’ Foundation, which was founded by the school proprietor.
The twins were the star attractions of the ceremony held on the school field. Parents, teachers and well wishers cheered as the twins’ grades were reeled out. “A in Maths”, “A in Additional Maths “A in Physics” “AA in Chemistry” “A in Biology”…, called out the moderator, whose announcement was punctuared with shouts of joy.
But, no one would have noticed the duo on the crowd if they had not been called. Calm and collected, Taiwo and Kehinde briskly walked to the podium, collected their awards, took photographs and left. In an encounter with them, the shy-looking lads said they play a lot because they don’t see reasons for serious study.
Taiwo said their weaknesses, such as noise making, or engaging in other frivolities, were, most times, overlooked by their teachers who were confident that they (twins) would make up for it with their performances after each examination.
“Our teachers are always confident of us. That does not mean they don’t scold us when we err. But, they usually do not have to worry so much about us as we don’t dissapoint them after each exam.”
Neither of them could say how many hours they spend reading.
“We play a lot,” said Taiwo, “but that does not mean we don’t read. Truth is, we simply see reading as something normal. We read whenever we just feel like it but we don’t believe we need to read and read like some others do.”
Their courses Chemical Engineering and Petroleum Engineering- did not come by accident, said their mother, Mrs Abimbola Hannah Odetola.
“I’d always wanted to study Civil Engineering because I want to be a civil engineer and contribute my qouta to the development of this nation,” Taiwo said. Kehinde plans to join the academia once he is through with his studies.”
Mrs Odetola, who accompanied her children to the event, said the pair had been demonstrating signs of geniuses since childhood.
“They have been showing these signs of geniuses since they were growing up,” said their civil servant-mother. “They used to come first, right from Primary I to Primary Six at Young Free Nursery and Primary School and when they got here (Taidob), they came either second or first throughout.”
Except for struggling to cope with their financial needs, Mrs Odetola said the other thing the family had to contend with is the children’s playfulness.
“There were not many challenges growing up, but the only issue I had with them was that they played a lot though they also read. But as a civil servant, we had to tighten things up. We went to cooperative to collect money to pay their school fees,” she said.
She added: “Kehinde particularly has been winning different awards from the school for the past six years. Every year, he won something, both in the school and outside. There was no competition they would do that both of them would not be part of. They had always wanted to study Petroleum Engineering/Civil Engineering and that is what they are doing now.”
The twins’ friends Akinola Festus Oyetunde and Akinbode Widom also spoke about their playfulness.
“Our relationship has been cordial for over seven years now,” said Oyetunde, also a UI Law undergraduate.
“They are very playful, to the point of annoyance. But their strength is in their intelligence, academics and moral upbringing. Sometimes, we quarrel, and disagree. Friends always quarrel, but what I know about them is their intelligence and how they relate with people. ”
Wisdom, who is studying Biochemistry at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), said Taiwo and Kehinde could be “very annoying sometimes”. Despite their intelligence, Wisdom said he and many others did not believe they could have the same grades in same subjects.
“They are brilliant, intelligent and helpful. They could be annoying, sometimes; they joke and play a lot. Nobody expected that they would have the same results. We knew they were both intelligent, but not that they would have the exact grades in all subjects. I was very happy for them when I heard it, although I was surprised, but they really tried.”
The management of their alma mater is also stunned.
“Their case, of course, is astonishing. I am sounding spiritual here because it sounds a bit strange to us that the twins have come out scoring the same kind of grades in the same set of subjects. It shows the fraternalism of twinship and it shows that God is a wonderful God and has a way of doing His things,” said the school proprietor, Dr Abayomi Jiboku.
Jiboku said though the school never expected anything less from the lads’, it was shocked that their results were the same.
“I must let you know that what we experienced was not unexpected because the two boys are very sound academically and also of good character and conduct, and that is what we stand for here as an institution. So when the results came and we found out that they both did very well, we were very happy although it was not unexpected, judging by their antecedents, ” he said.
From the medical lens
Doctor Kemi Akintoyosi is a Clinical Psychologist at the Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.
She said from the medical point of view such development is rare.
Dr Akintoyosi said:
“It is more of genetic factors that cause this occurrence. It is common for identical twins to share virtually the same thing.
“However, It is a very rare situation. So we can only have about five to 10 of such a case in 100 children acting like that. Because most often, even when they have the same monozygotic, you still don’t find them treading the same path. It is not so common.
“What could account for what they are experiencing is more of genetic bonding. We have monozygotic twins and dizygotic twins. Some twins have the same monozygotic chromosomes; that means their mother’s egg cells split into two to form them, unlike the dizygotic chromosomes, who were formed from two different egg cells.
“The biological implication is that these twins share the same sex cell, so the likelihood of doing things the same way is high. Because they share the same egg cell, they have 50 per cent chance of acquiring traits like schizophrenia from their parents. That means the bond is very high between the two children.
“The environment is also another factor. They have been subjected to the same environment all through their lives: same school, same training, same everything. So that would also aid the genetics. The genetics may not be able to influence their similarities on its own, but it would aid the genetic factor of what we are seeing in these children today.
“Their choice of career may be influenced by their environment. They have seen different things and interpreted them differently, so despite the fact that they might like the same things, specific interests could be different.
“If you probe further, they may both like football, but one might like it more than the other. So it is expected that they would go for the same career but in different fields. Hence, their interests and desires are influenced by environmental factors.”