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African Barbie dolls

“Queens of Africa” dolls reflect global diversity. (AFP Screenshot)

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.

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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:

SEE ALSO: Study: 6 Million White Americans Have Some African Ancestry

 

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