Have you ever wondered why dolls that little girls play with are mostly the ones with fair complexion? Probably we are oblivious to this fact and don’t even realize that a small thing like that may be the reason girls grow up feeling that white is the superior complexion, the prettier one. This may not seem like a big issue in a multi-toned population of India, but in a continent like Africa this seemed like a major problem. How could the dark women who grew up playing with white dolls find themselves pretty?
Thankfully, someone paid attention to this. Taofick Oluwasegun Okoya from Lagos of Nigeria was disappointed to see her daughter feeling upset for being black. Okoya quoted,
“It opened my eyes to the fact that all her dolls at the time and all her favourite characters were white, and looking in the mirror she doesn’t see the image she has as play tools or favourite characters.”
He decided to solve the problem on the large scale and alter the mindset of African women so that they feel confident and proud of what they are.
He set out to build indigenous models of dolls that represented three major tribes of Nigeria. As he kept working on this, he realized how absurd it was that white dolls were predominant in the world where more than 70 percent of the population belonged to other races and ethnicity. He set out with a project called Queens of Africa which in addition to dolls also manufactured books, comics, music and animation based on African ethnicity. But he had to face a long struggle as these products were not readily well received by the people and stores were unwilling to keep them as they also felt that the ‘white dolls will sell more’.
But Okoya is undettered. He continues to work on Queens of Africa to include all major tribes of Africa. Not only this, he also wants that these dolls become famous across other continents some day. In our everyday lives, we often overlook the fact that the seeds of discrimination and racism are still rooted deep inside our every day choices. Next time you make a decision about buying a toy for your little girl, make sure it makes her feel empowered in the long run. The world needs this revolution. Let us not let the West interests and choices dominate our markets and thoughts. We are in an era 68 years past the independence day.