African Indigenous Knowledge Systems:  The Umbilicus in Perspective

Biology defines a placenta(umnakwabo or ingcipho in humans and ingqwatshi in animals) as a flattened circular spongy vascular organ in higher mammals, expelled in parturition after nourishing the foetus, which is attached to it by the umbilical cord: Placenta in Latin = Plakoeis in Greek.The umbilical code or umbilicus is a rope like structure passing from foetus to the placenta. This vital organ is a conduit between two living organisms that transition life from one to the other. Without it, the laws of procreation in higher mammals could find themselves compromised. At birth, the baby is helped to adjust to life outside its former comfort zone, by severing part of the umbilicus from the placenta. Welcome to the world of the living. If and when a girl falls pregnant outside wedlock, Nguni custom dictates that she is accompanied by her paternal aunt to report the pregnancy (bikaisisu) to her boyfriend’s family. Underline family, a pregnancy is reported to the family, not to the boy. Being a carbon footprint representative of the said family; it is only incumbent that the identity of the pregnancy be reported to the clan. The clan consults the boy, and a decision is reached to acknowledge the pregnancy. Download Full Article