I don't know what they did in Africa, but in this country they used old rags torn up and wrapped up in a piece of cotton cloth. This construction was then pinned inside their drawers, and washed when it was saturated. Not very pleasant, comfortable, fragrant, or hygienic.
I guess you do what you do to get by.
The american indians had huts the women went into and stayed while they had their period.
personally I don't use tampons anyway...well very rarely. So I am sitting here wondering why women would roll up newspapers rather than just line their britches with newspapers.
the former sounds awful