WITH very few black dolls on toy-store shelves, SAMHAR GOWHAR talks to one fashion designer aiming to make them fashionable in Greater Manchester and beyond.
After a Holiday trip to Ghana, fashion designer, Karen Tino Jonga, came up with the idea of creating black dolls which have an important historic message.
The dolls line named ‘Nana dolls’, which launched on December 15, was created to educate young girls on the history of African female heroes.
The name ‘Nana’ means Queen or King and these dolls aim to represent power, bravery, confidence, leaders and many great attributes that the younger generation need to know that they already possess.
Each doll, which has its own ‘personality and character’, represents an African hero with an inspirational story who fought for freedom and demonstrated courage.
The idea came to Karen after a visit to the Elmina Castle, a place which is noted to be one of the first slave trading spots.
During her time in Elmina Castle, Karen began to learn the history of the building and the story of slavery in Ghana.
She told Quays News: “While I was at Elmina I came across a story of a women called Yaa Asantewaa and after herring her story I started to cry It really touched me.
“it was just inspirational that even with all the issues that was going on at the time and everyone was feeling really powerless, she felt powerful and brave enough to go and rescue her brother.”
The story of Queen Mother Nana Yaa Asantewaa is a story of the modern history of the nation of Ghana.
In 1896, Yaa’s brother was captured and exiled to the Seychelles islands by the British who had come to call the area the British “Gold Coast.” however she went searching for him.
The Nana dolls, is also co-founded by musician Fuse ODG known for his hit single Azonto.
Fuse stated in a Facebook post that: “We’ve been working on this for a while..a way to educate our young children about their history in a fun way.
“It’s very important how our younger generation see themselves.”
Karen, who lives in Derby but works in cities across Britain, also told Quays News that she hopes to “normalise the beauty of African women and to educate young kids from all races on the importance of bravery and equality and representation.”
She added: “It would be really good especially for black kids although it’s for all races just to kind of remember those people who did so much for us and kind of educate people on where we all come from and how far we’ve come.
“And then the idea of bringing out a doll just kind of came to me while I was still in Ghana because kids love dolls.
“They will play with dolls but if they had a doll with a message that the parents can teach them about then they will kind of naturally end up knowing the story without having to learn it in a boring historical way.”
Nana dolls has and has already gained a huge amount of recognition and positive feedback from he public and celebrates such as Cheryl have also been supporting the movement.
— fran colligan (@fran_colligan) December 15, 2016
— Dolapo (@OfficialDolapo) December 15, 2016
Designer Karen said that she and co-founder Fuse ODG wanted to create a line of figures that would better inspire millions and hopes that many parents will buy these dolls as gifts for Christmas.
Karen told Quays News that she believes they represent something important and stated that ‘what you’re fed when your younger you will soon think is normal when you’re older so its important we see equality in all.’
Listen to Interview with Karen below: