when were you born?
Taiwo: I was born a twin on September 10, 1929. My twin brother is a retired bishop of the Akoko Anglican Diocese. We were born in a place called Itorioluwo in Ogun State. We started school in the state at Aberuagba. After completing Standard Three, we left for Ijebu Ijesa in Osun State, where we attended St. Matthew’s Primary School to complete elementary education.
In 1943, I was employed as a pupil teacher at Salvation Army School, Iperu Remo, Ogun State. After some time, I was transferred to Ikorodu and then later to Abeokuta to work with same Salvation Army School. I was in Abeokuta until 1949 when I went to join my brother in Ekiti and continued teaching there. He was at Iye Ekiti, while I was at a town formerly called Iporo but now referred to as Iludun. I was the headteacher there before I left in 1954 for Ibadan (in present-day Oyo State), where I taught at the Salvation Army school, before moving to Ibadan Academy.
From there, I left for the United Kingdom in 1960 to further my studies. I was an external student of the University of London. I completed a degree programme in 1963 and later went to Sheffield University for a master’s programme in 1977. I studied Accounting but it was under the Economics Department. After that, I went to London School of Economics, where I earned a PhD.
But immediately after my first degree, I worked briefly with the Metropolitan Hospital Board. After the master’s programme, I returned there. I later worked at Borough Technical College and from there, I went to Engvid College of Technology. Then it was part of Middlesex Polytechnic.
Later, it became a university. I left the place for the City of London University. Afterwards, I returned to Nigeria where I taught at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, for a year before returning to the UK. When I returned to Nigeria from the UK, I took up an appointment as a lecturer at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, where I was for 31 years before I retired.
How did you know your age?
After my retirement from the university, I was placed on contract. I was instrumental to the establishment of the Accounting Department of the institution. The department is strong now in the university. From there, I joined the Joseph Ayo Babalola University in 2008. I have been there since then and I plan to leave the institution soon. I think I am old enough to start staying at home.
Kehinde: We were born to Pa Joseph Olowokure in 1929. We lived together at Kajola in Abeokuta. We left the place for Itorioluwo in Abeokuta. We started school at Baptist school and then we were baptised by Reverend Bada. After 1936, our father moved to Itorioluwo and there was no school there but we went to St. John’s Anglican School in Aberuagba up till 1941 that our father died.
This made my twin brother to move ahead of me by a class in the primary school. He was in Standard Three when our father took him to Ijebu Ijesa and he left me at Itorioluwo. In early 1941, he had an arrangement with his friend, Pa D. A. Ayoloye, who was a reverend, that I should be living with him.
My father knew then that I had inclination to be a cleric. But when he died, I still stayed in Itorioluwo till the year ended. I later joined Baba Ayoloye at Osi Ekiti. It was there I did Standard 4, 5 and 6. Pa Ayoloye was also responsible for my education because the death of our father brought a setback to our education. After that, I was employed as a pupil teacher. We started to struggle. I later went to Emmanuel College, Ibadan. Then, I passed GCE; Ordinary and Advanced level examinations and was admitted to study for the Ministry in 1959.
I was there for three years. After I passed the Ministry examinations, I also took a diploma in Theology of the London University. Some of us took the examination and only few passed. I was posted to Ondo Diocese but I didn’t like it because I wanted a change of environment. I had been in the old Ondo area since 1942. But the authorities did not allow me to change. I was later posted to Ifaki Ekiti as the first minister of the Anglican Church in the town, and before the end of the year, I returned to the university.
The diocese sponsored me to study Theology at the University of Ibadan. I did that from October 1962 to 1965. Then I moved to St. John’s College, Owo, Ondo State, as a teacher/chaplain. It was then a teachers’ training institution. Then in 1968, I was given a university scholarship for master’s programme and in 1970, I did that at the University of Ibadan. After some time, I rose to the position of the vice principal of the school.
By the end of August, 1975, I was transferred to Ado Grammar School as principal. I was there for one year when the Bishop of Ondo, Rev E.O. Idowu, invited me to be in charge of the All Saints Church, Ogbokowo, Ondo. I was there for 10 years as a vicar and Archdeacon of Ondo.
Under my supervision, I had 124 churches. In 1986, I was elected as the Bishop of Akoko Diocese. I was there till September 1999, when I retired. My wife used to be my pupil. I taught her in Standard Four and Five in Ekiti. That place wasn’t far from where my brother was. He came all the way from Abeokuta to join us in Ekiti. We got married in 1957. I married before him. He married in January 1958. His wife was a teacher that worked with him.
Did your teachers give you special treatment because you are twins?
Kehinde: Yes, in primary school, I would say I was specially prepared for the ministry because when I was with Pa Ayoloye, we were four staying with him and we were all from Ijebu Ijesa. Anytime he had an opportunity to travel as a missionary, he used to take me along. I could say he specially prepared me for the ministry.
Taiwo: No, during my primary education, I stayed with Kehinde. But we parted ways later on and never attended the same school again. I was never given any special treatment.
Can you recall some of your fond experiences while growing up?
Kehinde: In primary school, I was somehow rascally. One of our teachers when I was in Standard One was a young man. We used to play a lot and I was rude to him one day. The catechist in charge of the church reported me to my father who gave them the permission to punish me. But he didn’t punish me until two months later.
When we were about to close one afternoon, the man came to our class and asked one of our big boys to bring out his belt. I lay on the bench, he then dipped a towel in water and placed it on my buttocks before flogging me. He gave me 12 strokes of the cane and I wept profusely. When I got home, I told my dad but he didn’t say anything at all.
The second instance was while I was in Standard Six. My teacher was a tough man. His name is Mr. Odugbemi. He was from Oke Igbo in Ondo State.
During one of the errands I ran for Baba Ayoloye, the teacher had taught our class. When I returned to class, he asked me some questions and I told him I did not know the answers. I added that I was not around when the lesson was taught. He became angry and gave me six strokes of the came on my left palm. I started crying. He warned me to stop, but I did not.
He then gave me another six strokes of the cane on my right hand. I still did not stop crying. He was furious at my stubbornness. The he gave me another six strokes of the cane on my buttocks. I still refused to stop crying and he started beating me all over my body.
The classroom was a storey building and I ran out of the class and jumped down. I ran to the mission house but Baba Ayoloye was not around. He had travelled to attend a synod in Lagos, but his wife was at home. She sent me back to the school, but I did not go back. I hid somewhere and started to curse the teacher.
When I eventually returned to the class, I thought the teacher would flog me again. But he only said he was happy that ‘mummy’ sent me back to school.
But I have discovered that whatever anyone sows, he will reap. I told you how I was rude to my teacher. When I became a teacher, I had a student who was also rude to me. I wanted to flog her and she ran away. I asked the big boys in the class to go after her. When they brought her back, they thought I would flog her mercilessly, but I didn’t because my mind went to how I misbehaved to my teacher.
Why didn’t you end up being a cleric like your brother?
Taiwo: Originally, I wanted to be a cleric. But when I went for the interview, they told me that my voice was not clear and I was never considered. But from the start, my brother would stand on cassava heaps on the farm to preach. The inclination had been there for him from the beginning. It was something our father wished. He wished that one of us would become a cleric. I believe that informed his decision. When he was about to die, he handed my brother over to his friend through a letter. My father died a fortnight after his friend received the letter from him.
Tell us about your siblings.
Taiwo: Two of our mother’s children are dead. The one that was supposed to be our Idowu died long ago. People see the one that is our Alaba as the Idowu. We sponsored his education. He attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and retired as a principal. We also have a female sibling. She is 81 years old now. Our mother had two sets of twins twice. One of the second set of twins died in infancy but Taiwo is alive. We have two siblings.
Kehinde: We have a brother who retired as a principal of a secondary school. At the time our father died, that our younger brother had yet to start school. Our mother was responsible for his education. He attended primary school. After that, he gained admission to a secondary school and we took up the responsibility to train him. What we did not enjoy, we gave him.
I took a loan with a huge interest from a money lender for our sibling’s education. When the money was about to double and I could not pay up, I went to the catechist and he assisted me. I later paid back the money to the church.
How did you meet your wife?
Kehinde: I was the headteacher at Iludun and we needed more teachers. She had just relocated then to Iludun. I did not propose when she was working as my subordinate because I knew it would weaken my powers over her. She was not the only one working with us then. The woman my brother ended up marrying was also among them. When my wife gained admission to St. Benedict College, Owo, I was about leaving Iludun that same year for Ibadan. It was then that I proposed to her.
Are your wives twins too?
Taiwo: Kehinde married a twin. In fact, she is Kehinde too, but my own wife is not a twin.
Do you have twins as children?
Taiwo: No, we don’t have twins as children.
You look much alike. Did your wives ever mistook one for the other?
Kehinde: The day I got married at Ikole, my brother came back to the town. It happened the morning of the following day after the wedding. In the morning, my wife wanted to have a discussion with me. But she mistook my brother for me and she had already commenced discussion with my twin brother and he listened to her.
The discussion was already on when I entered. My wife became confused and we teased her that she did not know her husband few hours after wedding. After that, she checked for something (on our bodies to use) to identify us and tell us apart.
And what was that?
Kehinde: She did not tell me.
Taiwo: There was a time my wife did the same thing. She thought she was talking to me whereas she was talking to my brother. As the discussion went on, my brother began to laugh and then I came in and we all laughed. Our friends used to mistake one for the other. It became easier to tell us apart when he became a cleric because he was always wearing a robe.
Did you pull pranks on girls before you got married based on your identical looks?
Taiwo: No, we didn’t.
Did you ever plan to marry on same day?
Taiwo: No, there was no time we planned to marry on same day.
Was there a time you got punished for an offence committed by your brother?
Taiwo: I don’t have that kind of experience but one that is similar to that was when I was in Abeokuta. Kehinde came to pay me a visit. But he didn’t meet me at home and he waited for me. At the same time, a friend of mine also visited me. Maybe Kehinde didn’t greet him the way he expected and he felt uneasy and taught it was me he saw that day.
How do people react when they see you two together?
Kehinde: They always marvel at our resemblance. They wonder what kind of people we are, especially whenever we are together and putting on similar attire and doing things together. They admire us for that.
Did you know you would live this long?
Taiwo: Let me confess to you, I never knew I would live up to this age. I accept it as God’s grace and nothing else. When we turned 70, I did not think we would get to 80 years, and now that we have celebrated 90, we do not know if we will turn 100. Only God can decide that. But all through our journey, we have been blessed with good health.
How do you relax?
Taiwo: I don’t relax. Most of the time, I am reading books, doing my necessary teaching assignments. My wife used to complain a lot that I wasn’t spending quality time with her.
If you ask her, she will tell you that she is not the first wife. She says my books are my first wife, while she is the second wife.
But my brother is a man of the town and since his retirement and upon returning home, people have always been calling him for one thing or the other and he responds. He sits outside the house with the grandchildren and plays with them.
Tell us about your children?
Taiwo: I have five of children but unfortunately I lost one of them last year. He was a popular lawyer. My eldest son works with the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. My eldest daughter is in the US with her husband. She is a nurse. My other daughter is in London; she is a lawyer. My last son is a doctor in the US.
My brother has three children; all females. The eldest child is a senior pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God in the UK. The second child is an educationist. She is based in Abuja and the last child lives in the United States with her husband. She studied Library Science at the University of Maiduguri. She lived with me then in Maiduguri.
How often do you disagree?
Kehinde: Never. There has never been anything like that. We have never disagreed, even for a day.
Do you live in the same place?
Taiwo: We stayed under the same roof when we were born till we parted ways. Now, his house is not far from mine. We live in the same compound. If you come to my house and you don’t find me there, I will be at his house. The same thing goes for him. We are always together despite having our different houses. We wear the same type of clothes when he is not officiating. There are times it happens coincidentally but occasionally, we reach out to each other before choosing what to wear.
Do you have any regrets?
Taiwo: I always thank God for what I have. I have no regrets.
How often do you go to hospital?
Taiwo: Not frequently but now that I am old, I go more often than before. I had operation twice. My brother also did the same thing at almost the same time. It was an operation carried out on my left ear. They told us that the chicken pox we had while growing up affected our ears. When I started having problems with my left ear, I did not tell my brother. I was going for an operation in Lagos. Then one strange thing happened. While the operation was ongoing, my brother’s left ear started bleeding at Ikole.
At the time I was told what happened to him, I was still in Lagos. We quickly arranged for him to be brought to Lagos for the same type of operation.
Do you exchange gifts?
Kehinde: Yes, we do occasionally. When we are celebrating something, we exchange gifts. More often, what we gift ourselves is money.
How would you describe your brother?
Taiwo: Kehinde is a gentleman of God and a devoted family man. He lost his wife last September, while I lost my son earlier in the same year, precisely in March 2019. The wound of that sad event had not healed when he lost his wife.
Kehinde: Taiwo is a gentleman and a man of principles. He is a man of his word. He is kind, religious and generous. He is also a disciplinarian and a good family man.
What is your favourite food?
Kehinde: I love pounded yam with any soup. But I love it more when it is served with vegetable or egusi soup. For Prof (Taiwo), he does not like pounded yam anymore. There was a time he preferred rice, but now I don’t know the food he likes.