Press Release – Queens of Africa

Queens of Africa is outselling Barbie in Africa heralding the start of a new era of ethnic pride and confidence for girls of African descent.

 

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According to Refinery29 this week, Mattel’s Barbie has finally been unseated by a ‘brown-skinned’ doll in Africa.  The ‘Queens of Africa’ dolls were developed by Nigerian entrepreneur Taofick Okoya, “to show African children that ‘black is beautiful’ by enabling them to play with dolls that reflect their culture and heritage”.

The dolls are available in toy stores all over Nigeria and will soon be available worldwide. Each doll represents a different tribe of Africa. There is Nneka (Igbo), Azeehah (Hausa) and Wuraola (Yoruba) and they are sold in various outfits.  The most popular are the dolls dressed in traditional attire.  Okoya comments that “The Queens of Africa dolls were created to inspire and influence the coming generation, especially the ‘Girl Child’, so in designing the dolls and their outfits, the team bore this in mind.” Critical to the promotion of the dolls has been the series of books that compliments the dolls that have been released worldwide including Amazon USA.

Okoya felt it was critical to have dolls that represent African heritage so the Queens of Africa program was born. Okoya has the support of an impressive ‘Who’s Who’ list of Nigerian artists and celebrities. According to Okoya, the role of the books is one way to “take the Queens of Africa project global”.

Okoya was inspired by his work with local child support agencies where the predominant toys available to local children were white dolls. He comments “To the vast majority of people, toys are mere play items or pacifiers for children. Little thought goes into which toys best serve the purpose as a tool for a child’s development. Children mentally absorb positive and negative influences which can later be detected in their character, especially in their teenage years. We need to see toys for what they really are…..A fun developmental tool.”

Okoya’s team worked with a British children’s writer and NLP (Neuro Linguistic programming) specialist, Judy Bartkowiak (JudyBee), Yetis (LittlePinkPebble), a Children’s Illustrator from Singapore and for the second Dan Doodies (Dan Durant) . The dolls are represented as schoolgirls and together with them, the child reader learns about the lives of ancient African Queens. “It was important for us to take the key messages of the lives of the ancient Queens of Africa and thread them through the stories in a way that children of today could identify with and be inspired by.” says Bartkowiak. “Using stories and imagery steeped in African heritage, with a modern twist we bring important messages forward for the young girls”. The first series comprises six stories featuring different Queens of Africa and the second series focuses on teaching the reader, through Nneka, Wuraola and Azeezah, various life skills and introduces key NLP techniques. The first is entitled ‘Learn Confidence’ and it was the first life skill that Okoya and Bartkowiak identified as being required amongst young Nigerian girls as a result of  work with local child support agencies.

Okoya works closely with many support agencies in Lagos – the main one being The Bethesda Child Support Agency. The agency supports over 2,000 orphans and vulnerable children in the Lagos area. In addition to opening a nursery and primary school in 2004 that has grown from around 30 to over 150 children, the charity runs scholarship, sponsorship and mentorship programs. Okoya is passionate about giving young black children a strong start in life including making sure that the toys, music and books given to them convey positive messages about their heritage.

The books are being published by the UK independent NLP publishing house, MX Publishing. MX are best known for publishing international bestsellers in the NLP field including Bartkowiak’s Engaging NLP series of workbooks for parents, teachers, children and teenagers.

Supporting the Queens of Africa program was a natural step says Managing Director Steve Emecz “We like to take on books that the team can get passionate about. The Queens of Africa program has a brilliant and simple message. Growth through a proud heritage. The dolls, music, comics, and books all promote positive messages and we are delighted to be involved.”

More Information:

www.queensofafricadolls.com

Nigeria is the world’s most populated Black nation with over 150 million people. Located in the West of the African continent Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960. There are over 200 ethnic groups with three major tribes and languages – Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba.

Contacts Queens of Africa Books

Press Enquiries – Judy Bartkowiak – Email: judy@judybartkowiak.com  Tel: 0044-(0)7917-451245

Publishing Enquiries – Steve Emecz – Email:  steve@mxpublishing.co.uk

Focusing on your goal

I think most writers would agree that from time to time they lose their way a bit. We can get distracted by Facebook or by the housework, a book that will surely help us or writing something else that has suddenly taken our interest. We , like dieters, get really cross with ourselves and say “well that was a wasted day, I may as well not bother now because I’m not going to meet my daily wordcount goal.”

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Instead let’s reframe the distraction. Meet it headlong and ask it what it has for you. How could you use the distraction to your advantage? Here are some ideas.

1. So you find yourself on Facebook or Twitter and you need to be writing your oeuvre.

How about asking your friends what a word you’re writing in your book, means to them. Ask them what they feel about the subject you’re writing about. Ask them for their favourite word. Maybe you can use it. Put out a plea for a quote that you could use. Ask favourite colour , maybe your character could wear something that colour. What is the most bizarre name they have ever heard of? What is the strangest sounding place name? Use your distraction to move you on with your book.

2. You’ve found yourself in Youtube and you’re getting carried away some place else.

Well this is fine, it is research isn’t it? Search for videos on subjects your character might be interested in. Search for videos on the same subject you’re writing on. Think about how you might post a Youtube video on your blog, you could take your smartphone and do it right now. Video posts or vloggs are very popular and drive a lot of traffic to your blog. Talk to camera about where you are in your story what’s the block, what are your options. This will engage with your readers and make them ten times more likely to follow your blog so they find out when you’re book’s coming out.

3. While you’re researching you find someone’s blog with some great posts on. If only you could write like that …. blah blah blah

Of course there are better writers out there and that’s good isn’t it? Who wants to read rubbish anyway? So what makes their writing good? What can you learn from it? Do they have a great way of starting a new paragraph or concept? Have a go at doing the same yourself. Do they use some great adjectives, copy them into your work. Obviously you aren’t taking the whole sentence but play around with some of the words you like.

4. For some reason you know not why, you’re doing the housework.

Well you character may have a view about housework. What would their view be? How would they approach the housework? Which would they like doing first and what would be left til last? Are they someone who hates to stick their hand down the toilet or are they someone who has to hunt out every cobweb. Do the housework like your character and get some more insight into their nature.

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5. I know it, you’re gazing out of the window

Who could be there? What might your character see? What will they do? Who do they least want to see? How could you make something happen that will be exciting and unexpected? What’s the most random thing that could happen now? If this doesn’t fit into your story or you’re writing non-fiction then how is what you are feeling or seeing at this moment a metaphor for the subject you’re writing about? Could it make a good blog post?

So here you have it. This blog post started by me looking out of the window and noticing how the frost on the leaves has gone and wondering what the garden will look like tomorrow when I wake up as there’s snow forecast. For me this reminded me how different my page looks when it’s full of writing, like the bushes covered in frost. The page looks attractive to me but underneath the blank page where I am about to write, looks bare and ugly so I want to fill it.