Last January, Taofick Okoya told Reuters that while looking to buy a Black doll for his niece, he was dismayed that he could not find any — even in Nigeria, which boasts more Black children than anywhere else in the world, he said.
That was seven years ago.
Now, the entrepreneur is giving the competition, such as Mattel Inc., the maker of Barbie, a run for its money, selling between 6,000 to 9,000 of his “Queens of Africa” and “Naija Princesses” a month, he told the news agency. He also estimated in January that he has carved out about 15 percent of a small but fast-growing market. Doll parts are outsourced and manufactured in China and assembled in Africa, where they are dressed in traditional Nigerian outfits, according to Okoya.
After a recent AFP interview with Okoyo, the dolls reemerged as an item this holiday season. In the video, Okoya recounts the tale about his inability to find a Black doll for his niece.
“All the dolls in the house were all White,” he said. “I said, That’s a problem. When you load a child with all of this, it becomes an acceptable form of beauty. I thought I’m going to use my dolls to teach Nigerian culture, African culture.”
The dolls fill an important need, he added.
“I’ve gotten a lot of interest from Brazil,” he said. “In the process, I’ve come to realize that they also suffer from discrimination or lack of self-confidence when it comes to their skin color.”
Watch the video here: