Ivory Coast company brings Black dolls to African children

FILE PHOTO: Aissa, a new model of doll, is pictured in front of a computer screen at the office of Sarah Coulibaly, an Ivorian designer and creator of Naima Dolls brand of dark-skinned dolls, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast December 16, 2020. REUTERS/Luc Gnago.

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Frustrated by seeing store shelves in Ivory Coast lined with almost exclusively light-skinned dolls, Sara Coulibaly decided to create alternatives in which local children could see themselves.

Five years on, Coulibaly's company Naima Dolls employs around 20 young women who were scrambling on a recent afternoon to package 32 models of dolls with dark skin in time for Christmas.

"Our hope today is to give children the means to make good decisions," she said in her office in Abidjan, decorated with African masks and colourful wax prints.

"I want them to be conscious of the fact that they are beautiful, that their culture is beautiful and their culture is rich," she said, ruing the widespread use of skin-lightening creams across Africa.

The names of Coulibaly's dolls all come from different regions of Ivory Coast. The most popular is Adjoba - or "Born on Tuesday" in the Akan language of the southeast - a two-year-old girl with plump features.

An architect by training, Coulibaly says she draws inspiration for her designs from ideas and people she has met.

The dolls are manufactured in China and Spain, although she hopes to open a factory in Ivory Coast in the next few years to satisfy rising demand. She currently produces 150,000 dolls per year.

At a supermarket in Abidjan last week, Coulibaly's dolls caught the eye of many holiday shoppers.

"We got used to white people's dolls and now we can see Black skin, the African woman," said Aude Koffi as she surveyed the selection. "That is what I liked and that is why I came to have a look."

(Editing by Aaron Ross and Giles Elgood)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Next In World

Too much Prince Philip coverage? BBC says complaints have been received
Myanmar security forces with rifle grenades kill over 80 protesters - monitoring group
St Vincent's Caribbean residents wake to ash-covered streets, rumbling volcano
Thousands protest in Belgrade, demand government action to stop pollution
Diners at clandestine Paris soiree fined for lockdown breaches
Let us rebuild Beirut's port in less than three years, says France's CMA CGM
Myanmar security forces kill over 80 anti-coup protesters -group
Italian prosecutor says Salvini should not be tried in Gregoretti migrant case
Two killed during anti-U.N. protests in eastern Congo protests, officials say
Iran launches advanced uranium enriching machines to mark nuclear day

Stories You'll Enjoy