Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Nigerian Barbie Competitor Queens of Africa Dolls Are Making Their Way to the U.S. Also A Look At Ntomb'entle Dolls

  Barbie may soon have a new competitor. A popular Nigerian line of dolls called "Queens of Africa" is about to be introduced to the United States.The line was released in Africa in 2007, and in 2014 they actually outsold Mattel in Nigeria. The line features different skin tones and hair textures to represent different African women. 
The dolls themselves look a bit like your common dollar store dolls in the photos, (Without seeing them in person I can't say what sort of quality the vinyl is.), but the care taken in some of the hair styles, and the quality and beautiful fabric of some of the clothing brings them up quite a few notches.

  Another feature is the clothing. The dolls are dressed in bright contemporary African fashions, with dresses, tops, and pants with wax print patterns. 
Taofick Okoya with some of the Queens of Africa dolls.

 The dolls are the creation of Nigerian entrepreneur Taofick Okoya.  Okoya originally noticed there was a need for Black African dolls when he went shopping for a gift for his niece  and noticed there was a lack of Black dolls on the shelves in African stores.(No Black dolls in Africa! How crazy is that?!)He was later inspired to create the dolls when his daughter was three years old. "...she had asked me, ‘what colour am I?’ Realizing where it may be leading, I told her in an upbeat way that she is black. She got a sad look and when I inquired why, she said it was because she wished she was white. This, I believe, is because all of her favourite characters were white and she had imagined herself in their likeness." He also recently told Forbes magazine,"I used to always buy her white dolls, and it never got to me that it was relevant which color her dolls were. On top of that, we have DSTV in Nigeria, where children watch the Disney programs, and all her favorite characters were white. I started to understand why she’d feel the way she did, ’cause it was all that she’d been exposed to.” "This further drove my passion to create a doll that she and other African children can relate to." said Okoya," That was the beginning of the ‘Queens of Africa’ dolls. The goal is not just selling pieces of moulded plastic, but also to inspire and create a sense of appreciation of them by promoting value, culture and a heritage.

  The brand's motto is "Empowering the African girl child". In addition to the dolls there is also a series of educational books aimed at teaching self confidence and cultural pride. Ironically,a couple of years ago the line was having trouble getting little African girls, accustomed to white contemporary dolls, to accept the traditionally dressed African dolls. The company switched to more contemporary clothing, but have been trying to bring back the more traditional African fabrics.

  Okyoya has his dolls made in China, and shipped to Africa for dressing and hair styling. He employs 15 people, and is hoping to keep his operation in South Africa,but costs are making that difficult.   
  Okyoya has had requests for the dolls from stores in the U.S. and Europe, and is now shopping the line to potential American distributors. In the meantime, he is bringing  the dolls to the United States on a “Coming to America” tour in April, May, June and July. The stops on the tour will include Atlanta,(That visit was April 30th and May 1st.) New York,(June 4th and 5th.) and Chicago (Three stops throughout July.), and dates for Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Houston are to be announced. Click the link above for more details.You can also invite the tour to visit your town by emailing them at  INFO @QUEENSOFAFRICADOLLS . COM
  If you can't wait for the dolls to come to America,you can shop the dolls and beautiful fashions HERE, or buy them on Amazon.

You can also check them out on their website HERE, or their Facebook HERE.
  In researching this post I also discovered another line of African dolls which found it's way to store shelves in a similar way. Ntomb'entle dolls is the creation of Molemo Kgomo a South African mom who, once again, couldn't find a Black doll for her daughter on the store shelves in Africa.

Molemo Kgomo with all eight exquisitely dressed dolls in the Ntomb'entle line.
  Her dolls were created in 2005, and are today also sold in the U.S. and Europe. At just over 14" tall the Ntomb'entle, (Which means 'beautiful girl'), dolls are larger than 11 1/2" fashion dolls like Barbie. The dolls themselves resemble the larger 'dress me' type craft dolls, but the clothing is more special, with detailed bead work on many of the outfits. Dolls are dressed to represent 8 different African countries.Kgomo said she wanted to make dolls that made children “appreciate and see beauty in all kids." She hopes to branch out into boy dolls as well. You can find out more about Ntomb'entle Dolls, and see their beautifully dressed dolls, on their website HERE. You can also visit their Facebook page HERE,where you can also purchase their dolls. You can also email them about purchasing dolls at
  For more information about the dolls you can read an interview with Ntomb'entle's marketing director HERE


  1. Hi I think the Queens of Africa dolls are really cute. It would be nice to own one and to see the quality of the vinyl and hair. I actually found one on eBay so maybe they'll be easy to get soon.

  2. i za mną chodzi Queens of Africa :)))


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