Africa

8 things you didn't know you could do with milk

By Thomas Page, for CNN

Updated 6:37 AM ET, Fri October 2, 2015
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Milk is big business in Africa. There are 13.4 million dairy farms across the continent, and whether it's from cows or sheep, goats or camels, there's plenty of ways to source the white stuff.

Camel milk, lower in fat than cow's milk and packed full of vitamins, is especially on the rise. Thick, foamy and savory, it is traditionally drunk fresh, but its uses are diversifying.

Milk brings with it myriad health benefits including bone and teeth strengthening. But you probably knew that already. What you might not know are the many weird and wonderful ways milk is being used and consumed across Africa.

Scroll through the gallery to find out more.
TONY KARUMBA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The nomadic herdsmen of Ethiopia's Fantalle region have a life devoted to the care of their camel livestock. Some Somalis buy the milk and resell it for sweet tea, whilst the Karrayyu herders also sell to Elilta Women, an all-female association of artisans that turn the milk into lavender-infused soap. (Image courtesy of Slow Food) Paola Viesi
For those that would rather put camel milk on their body than in it, a Moroccan lava and Camel's milk face masque has been created by Shea Terra Organics. It's claimed to brighten skin and break down dull, dead cells, leaving the skin "silky soft." Shea Terra Organics
The Maasai people herd livestock in pastures spanning Kenya and Tanzania. Milk is part of their daily sustenance, but so is blood, tapped with a blunt arrow from a cow's jugular, to no long-term harm for the animal. On special occasions blood and milk are combined into something resembling a milkshake. The process needs to be performed fast, with any clots strained out before being poured into the milk. Rich in protein and allegedly beneficial to the immune system, the concoction is believed to contribute to the Maasai's low rate of heart disease. Boaz Rottem/Boaz Images
The Bodi tribe take the practice exercised by the Maasai to the extreme. Every June or July the Ka'el -- the Bodi lunar new year -- takes place, and with it an extraordinary show of pageantry. Men live in isolation and drink in excess a mixture of milk and blood for months prior to the event. Why? In order to become vastly overweight. Each clan will then present an unmarried male to compete for the title of fattest male -- and with the glory, the greater chance of finding a wife. With stomachs swollen, balance and fatigue can be an issue, but once the event is over, contestants return to their normal size in a matter of weeks. Fitretu Getachew
Villages in West Pokot, Kenya create an unusual yogurt made from milk and the ash of cromwo trees. Called "mala ya kienyeji" or "kamabele kambou" in local dialects, ash yogurt is made from either cow's milk for men or goat's milk for women and children -- the latter for its higher nutritional value. The milk is left to stand for three days before the whey is drained, then the curds are pummeled and ash added. The reason? It's disinfecting properties, as well as its distinctive aromatic notes. Olivier Migliore
The Zulu have ways of keeping things ticking over in the bedroom, chief among them a group of plants falling under the umbrella name "uBangalala." This group contains Eriosema, the roots of which are combined and pounded with milk to form a potent and long-lasting natural Viagra. ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images
Found in a cave in Sibudu, South Africa, this stone fragment is proof that mankind was creating paint some 49,000 years ago. A scientific study revealed that when tested the residue of the stone contained an mixture of ocher and casein -- a protein found in mammalian milk. The latter acted as a binder for the powdered ocher, with scientists speculating it could have been applied to human skin. Paola Villa
IntoAfrica UK have developed a cheap and effective fly trap in conjunction with the Maasai people in Kenya. During the rainy season the cows return, bringing with them flies which contribute to the spread of bacterial infection and other diseases. By placing milk and other rotting food in a darkened plastic container with a narrow opening, connected to a clear plastic bottle, flies eat the food but then gravitate towards the light in the clear bottle, from which they cannot escape and eventually die. China Photos/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images