Meet the Rooti dolls! Talking African figures wearing colourful clothes challenge racial stereotypes by breaking the Barbie mould
- Dolls created by Chris and Ada Ngoforo who felt their children did not know enough about their roots
- The couple have now made 12 dolls from different African countries
- Each doll can speak a range of different African languages
PUBLISHED: 13 March 2013
A range of dolls have been created to help children of African origin to stay in touch with their heritage. The dolls were created by Chris and Ada Ngoforo, from London, who were concerned their children did not know about their West African roots. They decided to take matters into their own hands and what started off as a project to help their family, has now transformed into a business venture.
Ama is described as a ‘bubbling dynamic girl’ according to the company’s website and speaks the Ghanaian languages of Twi, Ga, Ewe and Krobo while Nubya, whose parents moved to London from Cape Town years before her birth, is programmed to speak Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, and Afrikaans. They have launched their own range of toys, called Rooti Dolls, which are programmed to speak in several native African languages. The couple have now made 12 dolls from different African countries.
Chris Ngoforo told CNN: ‘We observed that over 90 per cent 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.’
Shiroh of Kenyan and Somali origin can speak Swahili, Kikuyu and Luganda while Keza whose parents are originally from Zimbabwe and Zambia can speak Shona, Ndebele, Bemba, and Nyanja, according to the dolls’ creators.
Debbie Behan Garrett, author of ‘The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls’, said: ‘Today’s black dolls have evolved from negative caricatures to play-scale representations of haute couture fashion models and other positive images of babies, toddlers and adult black people.’