Originally published at
View a photo gallery by Chris Rainier here.
Reporter Lorne Matalon’s African assignment was part of the National Geographic Society’s ongoing Ethnosphere Project, a five-year series of expeditions to study cultural diversity. Watch for related coverage on the National Geographic Channel, and tune in to National Public Radio’s Morning Edition this week for related broadcasts on Radio Expeditions on National Public Radio (NPR).
A 38-year-old subsistence farmer, Koffi Ameko lives with his wife and four children along the Mono River in Benin, West Africa. Together with the 20 families of his small village, Ameko shares a genetic predisposition to produce twins and a fervent belief in their special place in the vodun, or voodoo, religion.
Like other indigenous peoples in this part of West Africa, Ameko, a devout follower of voodoo, believes twins are living deities that symbolize fertility. He worships them as a member of what is known as the Cult of the Twins.