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.
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.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0044-(0)7917-451245
Publishing Enquiries – Steve Emecz – Email: email@example.com