Chris and Ada Ngoforo, a couple living in London are very serious when it comes to teaching their daughters about their Nigerian heritage. When they were unable to find dolls that looked like their daughters, the entrepreneurs launched an African-themed line of dolls called “Rooti Dolls,” reports CNN.
The couple became concerned because their three daughters did not speak Igbo, one of the ethnic languages spoken in Nigeria.
“We thought amongst ourselves what we can do to actually help them to learn Igbo more,” said Chris Ngoforo.
Although the designing of the dolls began as a simple way for the Ngoforo’s to bridge the gap between their daughters and their Nigerian culture, they quickly realized that they had a fantastic business opportunity in front of them.
The dolls are programmed to speak in a variety of Africa’s native languages and are said to promote positive self-image in young girls.
“We observed that over 90% of children born or living in the diaspora and millions in Africa do not speak or understand their mother tongues. Our research made us understand that the reason for this is not because our children don’t want to learn their mother tongues, but more because there are not many essential tools that can easily be both educational and fun at the same time,” said Ngoforo.
So far the line has produced 12 dolls. Each of them are from a different country in Africa, speak multiple languages and comes with her own interesting backstory. As if that isn’t amazing enough, Ngoforo revealed that he and his wife were sure to create the dolls with varying shades of skin color in an effort to do away with inaccurate representations of Black people.
“Over the years my wife and I have found it extremely hard finding real black dolls that can truly connect with our little daughters. The dolls out there in the market are nothing close to the real image of a black child in terms of features and other attributes — they are either too thin, too light or chiseled-faced, and even the complexions of most of the dolls are kind of whitewashed,” he said.
“The unfortunate effect of this stereotypical misrepresentation is a case of low self-esteem among black children who have been directly or indirectly made to believe less in themselves as a black child. They have been made to believe that you have to look like a white doll to be accepted as beautiful or even good,” he continued.
Skip to the next page for more photos of the Rooti Dolls.