Placenta Consumption: The Cultural Context Series 2

Let us take a look at the consumption of placenta in Africa and Europe. In the African cultures, “zan boku” means “the place where placenta is buried”, normally under the trees to symbolize ongoing life. This is obvious by the Ibo of Nigeria and Ghana where they treat the placenta as the dead twin of a child. The Kikuyu of Kenya bury and cover it with grains and grasses in the field, while other cultures bury it in the dirt floor of the family’s house. On the other hand, some African nations wrap the placenta in the blanket and bury it beneath a tree. As for Mali, the placenta is believed to affect the baby’s temperament or even make it ill. Therefore, the placenta is washed, dried before being placed in a basket to be buried by the father.

In Europe such as France, the placenta is commercially used as cosmetics. However, in 1994, Britain banned the collecting of placentas in the Government after they found out placentas were sold to be exported to France. They used it to make a protein, albumin, for burns and to make enzymes to treat rare genetic disorders. Hence, placenta consumption and rituals differ from one culture to another.

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