Eighty-two-year-old Taiwo and Kehinde Obasa recently shared the story of their longevity with Punch Newspaper, see excerpts below:
Tell us briefly about yourselves.
Kehinde: I am Kehinde Obasa. We were born in Iwokun-Nla village near Obada Oko in Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State.
Taiwo: Kehinde, you also bear Francis, you did not add the name. I am Emmanuel Taiwo Obasa. We were born on February 2, 1934.
How did you know you were born in that year?
Kehinde: Though our parents did not receive western education, the date was documented by someone.
Taiwo: It was our mother’s brother who wrote down the date of our birth. He was educated and on the day we were born, he came around and wrote down the date.
Who were your parents?
Kehinde: Our father was Oke Obasa. He was a farmer while our mother was Olaegbe.
Taiwo: Our father had only one wife. Before we were born, we had four older siblings. After our birth, our parents gave birth to another child called Idowu. He retired as a senior officer in the Nigeria Customs Service before he died. He died at 76.
Which schools did you attend?
Kehinde: We attended Iwokun-Nla Modern School, Ogun State, where we studied for Standard Six.
Taiwo: We started the school in 1939 and after we left there, we wanted to further our studies. But our parents said they had no money to send us beyond the Standard Six. We tried to proceed further but since there was nobody to assist us, we had no choice than to look for work to do.
Where did you work?
Kehinde: I worked with a company in Lagos. The firm produced house keys. I worked there for many years before I left. Before I joined the firm, I had worked with a company which produced metal pots. During this period, we had lost our parents.
Taiwo: We decided to learn some trades before working in companies. I worked at ICI Imperial Chemical Industry in Apapa, Lagos. I was there for some years before I left the place in 1972. When I left the place, I ventured into buying and selling of household products.
Were the two of you married at the time?
Kehinde: It was Taiwo who married first. I was still busy trying to save money to cater for my needs and get ready for marital life when he got married.
Taiwo: Yes, it is true. I got married in 1964 and he married two years after.
Did you at anytime want to be married at the same time?
Kehinde: No, there was no time we planned for that.
Taiwo: We did not. It is our desire to do things when they suit each of us.
Were your wives able to identify you separately during courtship?
Kehinde: We had no time to bring our women together or for them to be close to each other, till we got married to them.
Taiwo: We did not live in the same area at the time we got married. I saw the person I married in the Bariga area of Lagos State when I was staying there. Kehinde saw the person he married in Agege, Lagos, when he was living in the area. I must add that when our wives started relating, they were initially unable to differentiate between ’June and July,’ I mean between the two of us. Later, it was easy for them to identify us after marriage since they have been familiar with us individually.
What are the things you share or do together?
Kehinde: When we were young we used to wear same clothes. But when we became adults, we only wear same clothes when we have to attend some social functions.
Taiwo: During our school days, we wore similar clothes and shared many things together. Our teachers and school mates liked to tease us by calling us twins. That often made us swollen headed.
Since you are identical, did you ever experience any case of anybody mistaking one for the other?
Kehinde: Yes, we had such an experience. One of my bosses in a company I once worked mistook Taiwo for me.
Taiwo: What happened was this. I was driving a cab sometime in the past. One day, one of Kehinde’s bosses was among the passengers in the vehicle but I did not know him. When others paid, he refused to pay but asked me if I did not recognise him. Since I did not know him, I insisted on him paying me. He did not want to pay but I stood my ground. He eventually paid and left in annoyance. When he got to the office, I learnt he went to report Kehinde to the general manager that he was engaging in private work besides the office duties. Kehinde was surprised by the accusation and said he was not into such practice and the man narrated what happened in the morning of that day. That was when he told them that he is a twin and they asked him to bring me to convince them. The man and the general manager were surprised when they saw me. His boss was not even able to differentiate between us when I eventually came. They had concluded to sack him but for the fact that we are twins.
Who is gentler between the two of you because Kehinde appears reserved?
Kehinde: I only know that we have some different habits. Sometimes, we agree on some issues and make same decisions. I do not like cracking jokes or making jest with people outside. But Taiwo likes doing that. I do not take offence with him on that because even though we were born same day, our characters cannot be the same.
Taiwo: I like cracking jokes but Kehinde does not play too much outside. I enjoy discussing politics especially current issues. I always speak my mind on politicians who are doing well for the people and those who have failed them.
Do people often get attracted to you to the extent of giving you preferential treatment?
Kehinde: We get favours from a lot of people. Many look at us with admiration when we go out especially when they know our ages. We are not new to compliments and special treatment from people particularly when we visit a place and stay there for some time.
Taiwo: I recall a time we attended a social event and the celebrator started introducing us to some of the guests. Some of them came to where we sat to speak with us and they gave us gifts. Last year, we took a sick family member to the General Hospital in Ifako-Ijaiye area of Lagos State. The matron was very happy to see us and wanted to know if we are twins because, according to her, she also has twins. She prayed that her twins would live long like us and we prayed for them too.
Do you have preference for the same food?
Kehinde: I like pap and tea.
Taiwo: It is not only Kehinde that likes pap. I also take it and enjoy Quaker oats too. I like solid food such as eba.
What favourite drink does each person prefer?
Kehinde: I used to take beer when I was young but I prefer taking stout now. I take a bottle a day. I do not take it in excess.
Taiwo: It is the same with me. I enjoy taking beer. I drink in moderation like Kehinde. I have been taking it since 10 years ago.
Don’t your children complain about your consumption of beer?
Kehinde: They would not want to stop us since they know that we do not take it in excess.
Taiwo: Our children do not complain that we take beer. Besides, if we attend any social event and we are served the drink, we do not take more than one bottle each.
Do you have children who are twins?
Do any of them have twins?
Kehinde: No, none of our children has twins. We really would have loved to have them give birth to twins.
Taiwo: For now, there are no twins among our grandchildren. But maybe one of our children will give birth to twins tomorrow. We cannot say, probably, they may come from one of our grandchildren.
Are you surprised that there are no twins among your grandchildren?
Kehinde: I am not. God is the one who knows why it is so.
Taiwo: I think about that, it is God who has the final decision. He decides what pleases Him.
How close are your children?
Kehinde: They are very close because they know that their fathers are also very close as twins. I have seven children— four boys and two girls.
Taiwo: Yes, Kehinde is right. Our children and their wives are very close. I have five surviving children—four girls and a boy.
How do you relax?
Kehinde: I relax by sleeping. I was relaxing when Taiwo came to wake me up that you were around for the interview. That is my own way of relaxation. I have a siesta every day.
Taiwo: I relax by taking a nap after a shower. I also like watching television but not for long because I will start dozing off when I watch it for more than an hour.
Do you exercise?
Kehinde: Yes, I take a walk within the vicinity of our area.
Taiwo: I take a walk too but I also jog to keep fit. We do not take a walk or jog together because whenever I want to engage in exercises, Kehinde may be busy with another thing.
Where are your wives?
Kehinde: They live with us.
Taiwo: We live together in the same house since we built the house.
Do you live in the same house?
Kehinde: Yes we do.
Taiwo: That is the truth.
Whose idea was it that you should live together?
Kehinde: It was the idea of both of us. We built the house (of about 10 rooms) together. Some of the children were born in the places we were living before completing the house. Others were also born in this place. We have been living together since we built the house.
Taiwo: It was someone close to us who told us about a vacant land many years ago. We showed interest in it and contributed money to buy it. We also decided that each of us could buy land elsewhere to build whatever the person desires after we had completed the house.
Was there anytime you had disagreements over it for any reason?
Kehinde: There was no time we had such disagreement because we are very close.
Taiwo: Just as Kehinde said, there was nothing like that at any time. After we completed the house, other housing projects we did were carried out separately.
Tell us your experience of the civil war.
Kehinde: We only heard of how the Biafran and the Nigerian soldiers fought at the time.
Taiwo: We did not have any direct experience of the war. We were in the South-West when the war was going on.
Did you both know that you would live long?
Kehinde: In our family, people live long. That is the reason we knew that we would be old.
Taiwo: Our mother lived for 107 years before she died. Our father was over 80 before his death. We knew that we would live long. We knew that we would not die young.
Since you are close, would you wish to die same day?
Kehinde: We do not know when we are going to die, so we cannot decide whether we want to die same day.
Taiwo: I think that is for God to decide.
Do you buy things for each other?
Kehinde: Our children ensure that they do the same things for us. During any festive period, they buy the same clothing material for us. They did same during our 80th birthday celebration.
Taiwo: It is our children who do that. Whenever any of our children goes anywhere and buys anything for one of us, the child will make sure he or she buys same thing for the other. For example, if Kehinde’s child sees anything and buys for him, the child will also buy for me too. If that thing is only one, he or she will rather not buy it. They care so much for us.
What advice do you have for younger ones?
Kehinde: Younger ones should make a good use of any opportunity that comes their way. It will be a good thing for them to know that any chance they make use of wisely today will be of immense benefit to them in future.
Taiwo: They should be patient in life and walk on the path of honour.
What differences have you both noticed during your time and now?
Kehinde: There were many companies in Ikeja during our time but the firms have either folded up or relocated to another country today.
Taiwo: Things were easy in the past. Youths got jobs they preferred during our time. They had opportunities to choose where to work. Adults like us were adequately catered for. But that is not the situation now. Things have changed. Nobody cares for the elderly nowadays. The little education we had was through the free education policy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the defunct Western Region.
What are your regrets?
Kehinde: I have no regrets.
Taiwo: I also have no regrets. We are happy with what God has done for us. We have good children and we are surrounded by grandchildren. We have peace of mind.
What is the secret of the good health you both have at 82?
Kehinde: It is God. It is not by any food or drink.
Taiwo: I think it is because we also refrain from unhealthy habits even when we were still young. We shunned bad habits from childhood.
Whose decision always rules during arguments?
Kehinde: It is Taiwo’s. Like they say, ‘We can be equally born and not be equally talented.’ When we argue on any matter, I allow his submission to rule.
Taiwo: I do not accept it when I know that I am being led to a path I do not like. I know I like arguments.
Do you go to the hospital?
Kehinde: Yes, I do, but only for a regular checkup and nothing else.
Taiwo: That is what I also go to the hospital to do.
What do the two of you do now?
Kehinde: We have a farmland which we cultivate.
Taiwo: We plant seasonal crops which we know are in high demand.