Queen of Africa Dolls Outselling Barbie in Nigeria



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“When Taofick Okoya’s daughter told him that she wished she was white, the Nigerian entrepreneur decided to help her fall in love with her natural black beauty. Sensing that her fair-skin worship was due to all of her favorite storybook, cartoon, and toy characters being white, Okoya began to imagine a world where Nigerian girls played with, and looked up to, black characters. ”


I recently read an article on www.bustle.com. titled “7 things black women wished they had growing up. From black women on the big and small screen, (as main characters on various outlets and not as an anomaly character on that one show) to the natural hair movement. You can read the full list here. Usually when I read about similar things, I often related these circumstances to an older generation, my parents, or my older cousins/siblings. But as I finished the list I realized all those things applied to me! Yes, I wish I had even half of those things on that list growing up. It then hit me that we are living at a time in the very crevice of social change for black and African women the world over. That our children and everyone born in the year 2000 onward (P.S the year 2000 is no longer “just the other day” but a whole 15 years ago!) will have less similar and more different experiences growing up than I did in terms of how socially aware they are and how visibly they are represented in mundane experiences in everyday life. It is absolutely amazing and I am so excited to live here and now, and to have the choice to play a part in the life altering changes happening at this very moment.

They said, ‘black dolls don’t sell I then embarked on an educational campaign via various media, telling people about the psychological impact dolls have on children, and [effect] dolls in the likeness of the African child can have on them

 – Taofick Okoya

A few days later, I came across another article that left out another thing, I wished I had growing up, black dolls! May sound small, but if I recall the amount of time I spent playing with dolls in my developmental years, I realize that the kind of doll I played with as a little black girl, was no small detail. It was something beyond exciting to read that within the continent, in Nigeria, the Queens of Africa dolls are outselling Barbies. I especially love that a man saw the need for his daughter to “see” herself and was behind this, too many times, especially in African social spaces, women are left to cater to children’s development, so it is encouraging to see a man step up to his role as a father and a parent, I also love that they are not reffered to”black barbies”,  and mostly that the fact they are selling out could mean that they are embraced by both parents and children and that socially we are slowly moving ahead positively from the binding complexities of the Clark Doll Test. This is a huge leap for little black and African girls to see and identify an image that they can relate to at the base of their physicality. To feel enough at the basis of how we look makes it easier to penetrate the knowledge of us discovering the power of our minds.

“When little girls play with dolls, they see themselves in or as the doll, they dress it in clothes they like and act out their fantasies,” he told Elle. “The more of their own likeness they see in the things they like, the more accepting they will be of their looks and culture.” 


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