Is Violence Embedded in Our DNA?

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The people who can’t stop eating dirt

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Sheila was a child in Cameroon when she first got hooked on kaolin.

“I was in primary school,” she says. “My aunt would eat it, and it was often me who had to go and buy it for her.” Sheila is currently studying at university in France. Many people back home, she says, continue to consume this substance every day. Some even become dependent on it.

Kaolin isn’t exactly hard to come by – you can purchase it from most Cameroonian markets – but it’s not something that appears on any lists of banned substances. Kaolin isn’t a new street drug. It’s dirt.

This was a topic that I never thought would end up fascinating me as much as it did. From my initial interviews with some Cameroonian acquaintances of an old school friend to the realisation that people were purchasing and eating dirt on my own doorstep, it was a rollecoaster journey that never ceased to surprise me. You can read the whole story here.