Tag: African Culture

The Africa Centre’s 2nd Summer Festival 2/8/14

London’s Covent Garden to host Textile Themed festival

The Africa Centre is a London-based charity that aims to promote awareness of African cultural and developmental issues in the UK. They will be hosting their second Summer Festival on August 2nd 20141 from 2 noon – 10 pm in the East and West Piazzas of Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RF
This year the theme of the event is the “African Textile Experience”

The centrepiece of the festival will be an inspiring programme, curated by Magie Relph of the African Fabric Shop and advised by Chris Spring, Curator of the African Collection at the British Museum, showcasing the rich tapestry of African textiles in all their beauty and diversity which will engage, inspire and fascinate you. Learn how to make your own Africa-inspired textiles at our craft workshops or take home a memento from our African craft stalls in Covent Garden’s Piazza.

The day will give attendees an opportunity to see, touch, hear and taste the best that contemporary Africa has to offer. You will also be able to feel the energy of Africa through vibrant dance and acrobatic performances. Have fun for all the family with African face and mask painting. Move to the beat of Africa with live music, drummers and DJs. Savour the flavour of Africa with authentic cuisine.

So why not go along and take part in celebrating the vibrancy, creativity and sheer joy of contemporary fabrics from all over Africa, including Kente, of course.

For more information please visit the website – africacentre.org.uk

The Ama.K Abrebese Foundation…. Say No To Skin Bleaching & Skin Toning Campaign

Ama K Abrebese launches anti Skin Bleaching Campaign



After reading a report on ‘Skin Bleaching’  by the former Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, and his call for an anti skin bleaching campaign to be launched. Ama K Abebrese decided to heed to that call with the Love Your Natural Skin tone… Say No to Skin bleaching and Skin Toning campaign. She has enlisted the help of fellow media personalities singer and actress Paulina Oduro, actress Nana Ama McBrown and model Hamamat Montia

Skin Bleaching is highly prevalent in Ghana and seems to be on the increase, it has over the years come to be rebranded as skin ‘toning’.  However skin toning is no difference from skin bleaching.

untitled 1The campaign brings together these personalities with different skin tones that range from darker skinned to lighter skinned.  The aim of the campaign is to encourage Ghanaians to love their natural skin tone they were born with, and resist the practice of skin bleaching. To highlight the risks and dangers of using different chemicals, lotions pills etc that are associated with decreasing the melanin in the skin by bleaching. To also get as many discussing the topic of skin bleaching/toning and incite debates about the issues regarding bleaching. This campaign is not about judgment or pointing fingers as to whom has bleached or has not bleached, but about uplifting the beauty of the  natural African skin and rejecting the notion that black skin in all its different shades is not beautiful.

The campaign  created by the Ama K. Abebrese Foundation,  is supported by DDP Outdoors Ltd, RVQ Visuals Studios, Dzidzis, The Wolfpack Life, Signature Qlass and media support from TV3, Citi FM, Daily Guide, Newsone, The Mirror and The Finder.

It has already been launched online, and there billboards that have been mounted in various streets in Accra and Kumasi. You can join the campaign here – https://www.facebook.com/ilovemynaturalskintone

Check out the promotional video below

Follow the official  campaign hashtags – #ilovemynaturalskintone   #saynotoskinbleaching


Africa: Changing Perceptions, Making Impact…

Africa is not poor

It is a continent rich with colour, with flavour. It is rich with history, with tradition, rich with the purest minerals and jewels on earth, flowing with incredible produce, reverberating with magical sounds of drums thudding to infectious beats.

Africa Poverty

And yet around the world, the richness of the continent is overshadowed by another perception. Magnified beyond realistic proportion and ran across our screens with relentless regularity, are images of degrading and humiliating quality. Yes, Africa’s dark corners are amongst the darkest in the world. Our core remains rotten and broken from years of yesterday’s slavery, and years of today’s corruption. And yes, poverty strikes colder in Africa than anywhere else. But that is only part of our story. We have so much to give. Images projected by charities which proclaim they are doing us good, may actually be deemed to psychologically be doing more damage to us than those charities realise.

The same media which won’t show images of the dead and wounded Brits over in Afghanistan because they are ‘shocking’ and ‘don’t respect human dignity’, replay images of the lowest of our low with worrying regularity. I can even categorise them for you. The pot-bellied kwashiorkor child being cradled in its mother’s arms, flies swarming uncomfortable like vultures circling an imminent corpse. A child reaching to drink rancid brown water, blissfully unaware of the verminous parasites swimming beneath the surface. Et-cetera. Et-cetera. Same. Same. Aren’t these images just as shocking? Is this showing respect to those who are in desperate need of aid? Or is this just another example of something losing value and impact, the more it is used…

Africa is not poor. Poverty exists worldwide, regardless of the difference in the height of the poverty line as you navigate across the world map. But poverty does not deserve to be our identity.

Media is a powerful tool. And the youth of today are worryingly vulnerable to dancing unconsciously to its beat.

We shouldn’t wait for the Western Media to portray images of Caucasian celebrities visiting the ‘worse-off Ghanaians who cannot fend for themselves’, fortifying subtly the images of the white saviours coming to our wretched shores to show us the light and cause us to be forever indebted to their superiority. We should take the initiative to show ourselves in a better light. To do more for our own.


There are two kinds of people in Africa, those who can’t make a living regardless of how much they put in, and those who find themselves overwhelmed with privileges regardless of the little they contribute. This balance needs to change – the latter needs to help out the former, and change outside perceptions in the process. We who have been blessed with iPhones and internet access should put it to better use than filling our blogs and timelines with celeb-sensational nonsense and glorifying decrepit behaviour. We’ve got our priorities wrong, whilst day after day we unwittingly remain stationary in the eyes of the watching world because none of our collective energies are put towards creating a better world view and promoting the best of the continent.

A new generation of African who doesn’t just whine about the problems of the continent but rather backs up their complaints with solutions  – especially when it’s within our means to provide and we have been gifted with far more powerful tools of influence than our parents ever had. We can talk about how Africa is portrayed badly in the media – but in today’s world where it doesn’t cost anything to set up a facebook page, and tweets can be sent in seconds, and opinions can be posted on blogs such as this one, we all have the ability to not just talk about sex and raves, but actually utilise our social media powers to rewrite the African Story.


We can complain until we are blue in the face, and hurl proclaimations about how ‘they never talk about our mansions or show the good side of Ghana’ until Jesus returns. But the key can be found in one of my favourite quotes, uttered by President Barack Obama: ‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’

Africa is not poor.

What are you going to do about that view?

Dr Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)


Nelson Mandela Tribute: The Man Who Built a Rainbow

The Giant of the Continent Rests

God chooses the hardest battles for the strongest soldiers…’

Me Firi Ghana is proud of its Ghanaian heritage. We do our best to profile the best of what we feel is the greatest country in the greatest continent on Earth, Ghana. However, late on the evening of December 5th 2013, a giant of our continent fell, and the resulting shockwaves have run through all four corners of the Earth. We acknowledge greatness. We must recognise the passage to glory of the Grandfather of Africa – President Nelson Mandela.

‘Mandela served his nation & Africa well. We have lost an icon in the liberation struggle & an illustrious son of our continent.’President John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana

I personally grew up amongst the backdrop of the fading embers of the Apartheid battle – a Rainbow Nation rising from the rubble of apartheid. And yet, amidst all the wondrous goings-on in this land far far away, there was one man at the centre of it all. The image of a former prisoner of the state, being crowned the first black President of a nation where white & black had clashed for so long, was amongst the first evoking images of my life. My love affair with South Africa led me to soak in the travails of this great man. In a city where young black boys tended to take less deserving people as role models, I sought to drench myself in the dew of the works of a truly great man.

unnamed 2

Over my formative years, I learned about a young, handsome man who had struggled from his tribal village to set up his own Law Firm. A man who fought against poverty, and also fought daily against the injustices of a broken & corrupt racial system. I learnt about a man whose heart began to burn with fierce purpose to bring down a sorry regime which held his people bound. A man who became a leader of men. A man who was, in his own words, ‘prepared to die’ for a noble cause – a dream of harmony; a vision of a rainbow nation.

Don’t allow his battles to be romanticised. Mandela’s time in Robben Island was one of truly horrifying mental and physical torture. Sentenced to never touch his wife again, to never be able to hold his children again; sentenced to never be free again – the figurative shackles of Apartheid becoming tangible and real.

Nelson Mandela is a bona-fide legend, and I purposely use present-tense. Always smiling, yet speaking with an authority and conviction which could capture the coldest hearts, he has been a living, breathing monument of greatness for my whole life. His story & his life has resonated deeply with me. He has been a man I have looked up to immensely for as long as I can remember. I have taken pride in the fact that he is a Son of Africa, a Father to the Nations.

As President Obama said in his address to the world following Mandela’s death, Madiba’s long walk to freedom showed many of us ‘what human beings can do when they are guided by their hopes, rather than their fears.’ We thank God that He gave Madiba the grace to live a life longer than most, to be able to enjoy freedom & a mostly united South Africa for more years than anyone could ever have anticipated.


I wonder who the hero of our generation will be? That superhero in humble everyday clothing? Whoever God has chosen, whatever God has planned, one thing we know for sure is that we have lost a courageous, noble, and good man – it has been a true blessing to have been able to share our world with him. But now, he belongs to the ages.

Today, as Ghanaians, we say ‘Mandela. Demirifa Due’. As Africans, we say ‘Farewell, Tata Madiba’.

The Giant of the Continent Rests.

Jermaine Bamfo @Dr_Jabz27

The Love Triangle: Ghana’s Red-Gold-Green

Past, Present & Future

“Sankofa” the Akan concept is quite simple. One must ‘reach back to the past and retrieve it’. I’ve written about Ghana’s beautiful and exciting present, and the promises of a gorgeously promising future. However, none of this would be possible without taking a look at the past, and retrieving the esscence of what exactly runs through Ghanaian veins to fuel our renaissance in today and tomorrow’s world.

Ghana’s relentess climb to the top should not be surprising for a nation built on the shoulders of one of the greatest Kingdoms in African history, the Akan Kingdom & the Asante nation. We are a royal people, regal, who will fight to claim what we want. Even our name professes this notion (Ghana means ‘Warrior King’). We have been, and always will be, a GOLDEN generation.


However, our successes and our history has not been without pain. The bright RED blood of our ancestors has left a trail which leads from the Gate of No Return at Cape Coast and various other complexes where our people were traded as cattle, across the Atlantic Ocean, and connecting us to our relatives in the Americas and the Caribbean. Scars remain from in-fighting between tribes, and fierce battles waged physically by renowned warriors such as YAA ASANTEWAA, to ideological conflicts fought by political powerhouses such as THE BIG SIX.

Our present day flourishing in GREEN pastures of success has been because of the hard work of brilliant and innovative men and women dotted around our extensive history. Ghana, the first Sub-Saharan nation to claim independence, is a nation of firsts, a nation of innovators, a nation of leaders. People like TETTEH QUARSHIE, who brought Cocoa to Ghana – how incredible is that? He’s left a legacy which led to Ghana at one point exporting half the world’s cocoa! People like KWAME NKRUMAH, Osagyefo, who created a template which allowed many African nations to break free from the control of others and become independent.  People like ARTHUR WHARTON, the first ever black professional footballer. People like JAMES AGGREY, the founder of Achimota College, a seat of education which has educated many of Africa’s Heads of States, past & present. People like JOYCE BAMFORD-ADDO, the first Speaker of Parliament of a West African nation. People like KOFI ANNAN, who led the United Nations with trademark Ghanaian civility& humility – a quick look at his Wikipedia profile will amaze you at how many medals and awards he has collected so far for his tireless work in improving the world. And I will be bringing to light some of the everyday legends living among us in Ghana and around the world today, who are flying the flag high, and changing the world in the process.


In my eyes, Ghana is the Lighthouse of Africa. It was the Lighthouse which showed other nations the way forward during one magical March night in 1957. Our BLACK STAR has never fallen. It will never fall. Our rich history has demanded this. And as we see today, our Star is shining brighter than ever!

“Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” translates as “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” To truly understand where we are going, we must take comfort and truly appreciate where we have been.

Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27

CHINUA ACHEBE Collected Poems….

The beauty of Creative Writing

‘Creative writing is writing that expresses the writer’s thoughts and feelings in an imaginative, often unique, and poetic way’. (Sil.org – What is Creative Writing?)

Creative writing is also about being free to express ourselves using style, humour and adding our own distinctive touch that makes our writing rightly inimitable.

When we write, we leave small imprints of who we are to the unknown.  There is a vulnerability that comes particularly with creative writing. We are vulnerable because strangers get to see the core of we are. Our walls are breaking down and we are letting people see things we wouldn’t dare to reveal to even those who are closest to us. That is the beauty of creative writing. Behind every word, there is a mystery, because you are writing a story in part, the only person who knows the full story is you!

A poet who does this effortlessly is the very gifted Chinua Achebe. Father of African Literature and undoubtedly one of the most exceptional writers of our time. Achebe is famously known for being cited in the Sunday times as one of the 1,000 makers of the twentieth century, for defining a ‘modern African literature that was truly African’ and thereby making a ‘major contribution to world literature’.

Recently, I have been reading CHINUA ACHEBE Collected Poems. I am astounded by the way he writes. He was a way with words like no other. Reading his poems gives you an insight into his world by subtly informing the reader about Igbo traditions, war and culture. His style of poetry is nonetheless ironic yet humorous, Fascinating and thought provoking.

Achebe engages the reader with politics confronting Africa’s severe realities of violence and exploitation.  There are some Igbo influences in his writing used to depict a picture of what he wants to stress. For example in his poem ‘A Wake for Okigbo’ Achebe does a sound transliteration of an Igbo funeral song into the English language and the poem evokes the feeling of mourning and grief.  Poems like ‘Love Cycle’ and ‘Love Song’ ‘(for Anna), are beautifully written evoking the feeling of romance and the purity of falling in love.


‘1966’ and ‘Remembrance Day’ are impressive as they are all war poems written to remind us about the Nigerian Civil War.

A personal favourite ‘Beware Soul Brother’ can be called the poem of wisdom as it speaks about being prudent and the reader can easily identify with him. The poem is engaging and the language is tailored to the understanding of the reader.

I would highly recommend CHINUA ACHEBE Collected Poems to all poetry lovers. To all those who would like to be challenged creatively, this is a must have for you, as it broadens your mind to experience another level of poetry and it is indeed a true masterpiece.

Chinua Achebe is able to draw you into his creation showing, there is no shame in using our heritage or roots to influence our writing and use it to portray what we want to portray to the world. Achebe is a genius and uses his unique gift in a profound way with the purpose of having a huge impact in the world of poetry which he has brilliantly accomplished.

Chinua Achebe, on behalf of all writers and aspiring writers, we salute you for being truly outstanding and for being an inspiration to many. May your soul rest in peace.

Adwoa Asiedu (@AdwoaAsiedu777)

Marriage Must Not Be Underrated !

Is Marriage Underrated these days?

Marriage is a union between a Man and a Woman to live together as  Husband and Wife and bring forth Children, thus building a Family. Most Christian Teachings and Islamic Teachings make us well informed  about marriage, and tell us how important this union is and thus should  be encouraged.

Traditionally each individual regardless of where he or she is coming from is made aware of marriage as an institution and its importance in every one’s life.

Gone are the days when marriage was so important to the Youth. In  those days, a young woman stay chaste until her suitor comes to ask for  her Hand from her Parents. As a result, most youth got married  beautifully and thereby creating a suitable and comfortable environment  for their unborn children.

Undoubtedly, there are so many benefits derived from having a family, thus having babies under marriage and giving them a respectable future  full of good home training unlike single parenting. The Security, Care and much Attention which will be given to the  children by both parents unlike when you are a single parent is what  makes marriage so essential.

It is mind-boggling to know that, gone are days when Virgins were  cherished and highly respected. These days things have changed, virgins  are considered morons and inexperience for marriage. It is however not surprising that even the few matured virgins in the  system now are shy to open up or proudly say they are virgins because of the fear that they may be mocked with the branded name ‘KOLO’, yet  these same people who normally make such mockery statements always wish  to be virgins, is it not funny? IF VIRGINITY IS A LACK OF OPPORTUNITY, WHY WOULD YOU WISH TO BE ONE?


Referring to some instances, I recall one incident on one of the  social networks when in a conversation a girl said ‘she was proud to be a virgin’ and in response a guy sitting beside her laughed and said  “but you paa, whiles others are enjoying themselves by having sex, you are  abstaining and you are not even ashamed.’’  So the question is, since  when did ‘PURITY’ became a shameful thing?  It is such a pity to hear a  young guy boast about fornication. It is very obvious some of these reactions are the reasons why young  girls of today do not seem to see the importance of staying chaste till  marriage. Relationships now in my opinion are indirect marriages. Most young  unmarried men and women even have sex many times in a week, month and  some instances even worst.

Honestly, youth of today do not seem to see the significance of  marriage. Fornicating rate keep rising and it’s getting out of hand.  Abortion rate keep spiraling with most of the females being teenagers.  So many factors contribute to these changes in our society but who can  you blame?

When you watch television commercials, all you see lately is condom  adverts and not even one instance when you will see abstinence advert. But come to think of it, promoting of condom is of great importance  considering the kind of environment we find ourselves in now.

Is it not about time the Media do something to also encourage those  unmarried people who are abstaining from sex until they find suitors?

In order to have a save and sound environment, I suggest that we  rather have adverts that promote the use of condoms and abstinence,  coupled with more education should be made available to the youth not  only on television but on radio, in magazines and even in our homes.

It all bounces back to the questions surrounding marriage being underrated. IS SOCIETY NOT DOING IT BEST?  WHO IS TO BE BLAMED NOW? IS IT THE MASS MEDIA, PARENTS OR THE YOUTH THEMSELVES? Whiles shifting blames, I want you to put at the back of your mind that  each and every one of us has it as a duty to look after our own selves  better.  Learn to make decisions on your own without allowing your  decision to be influence by others. After all, it is your life and your own choices.

Afia English (@AfiaEnglish)

Afia English is Ghana’s youngest female blogger and publicist. Check out more content from her right here on the Me Firi Ghana Blog,  her website –http://www.afiaenglish.com/  and individual blog http://afiaenglish.wordpress.com/afia-english-1-on-1/

Black Stars Rising….

Ghana’s Relevance Beyond The Motherland

Walking in Iceland. In Belfast. Northern Ireland. In the aisle which holds crusty soda bread and soft buttery crumpets. As far away from Ghana as you could get! And yet, in a place where I least expected it, Ghana found me, and made me realise how far we have come as a cultural International force. For it was here, in my first week living in Belfast, that someone’s phone began to ring. And I quickly turned to see a big Caucasian Irishman, in his 50s, with a gleaming bald head and wispy moustache, reach into his pocket and pull out his phone which was blaring the tunes of Azonto by Fuze ODG…

Fuse ODG

As a product of Shoreditch, East London, born as the pastel colours of the 80s began to evolve into the harder, sharper and playful 90s, I can still remember how Ghana was a great unknown. No-one knew much about Ghana and nobody was privy to say in school – come on, you didn’t want your mates to know that you ate something called ‘fufu’ regularly.
Ghanaian culture only boomed amidst the throngs of celebratory hall parties, where highlife and Supermalt flowed in equal measure, and African printed cloth flowed across the wooden boards of a community centre. But this was our world. Exclusive to those who had adinkra in their veins.
It’s a different world now. It crystallised when you saw Fuse ODG proclaim of how things used to be while accepting his award at the 2013 MOBOs in Glasgow, before watching him kente’d-out, with a gang of people from all different cultures sporting African dress and azonto-ing on stage in front of a live audience of millions – how many people were being exposed to Ghanaian culture at this point? How many were beginning to move to our beat for the first time?

It’s gorgeous to see photos of people like Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, casually walking out into town in a beautiful fitted Kente dress. It never fails to bring a smile when you hear an Afrobeat booming out of someone’s car and have a look in the driver side window to see that the driver is from Asia, or the Americas, or another far-flung part of the world. It’s amazing to see celebrities and people from all walks of life speaking of Ghanaian foods, Ghanaian terms, etc. Our world is out there…and ladies & gentlemen, it is booming! The world is falling in love with Ghana, and it’s a beautiful and proud sight to behold!
How beautiful is it that now we are making our way to the top of the international scene – how amazing is it to know that it is our time in the spotlight now. Let’s make the most of it! And let’s continue to be proud to say Me Firi Ghana!


Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)

“The Orisha Experience” A Photographic Exhibition by James C. Lewis

Gods After our own Likeness


As I sat in the crowd of about 50 at the Cr8 Gallery in Hackney, London, I remembered the words of the legendary Chinua Achebe- “….there is that great proverb; that until the lion learns to speak, the history of hunting will glorify the hunter. Once I realised that, I had to become a writer. I had to be that historian.” Undoubtedly, it is this same sense of realisation that inspired James C. Lewis’ exhibition- The Orisha Experience. Through his camera lens, he offered us a rare glimpse of the Orishas in all their pomp and majesty, and more importantly from an African perspective.

For a long time, the supposed authorities on issues regarding Africa were anything but African, and their uneducated views on our cultural traditions and practices were generally contemptuous. In the end, what became the established truth about us and our customs was not what was defined by us, but what has been defined for us by others with little or no understanding of our cultural protocols. We accepted as truth the condescending appraisals of our traditional forms of worship by the early European missionaries. The same missionaries that set up schools where African children were taught to loathe local deities, yet stories eulogising Greco-Roman gods and goddesses formed part of the school curriculum. These days, you do not need missionaries to perpetuate the indoctrination. African parents will happily allow their children to watch Walt Disney movies like Hercules but will swiftly rebuke a child if he as much as mentions the name of a local deity. Any reference to African gods or goddesses still stirs up a feeling of contempt.


Hence, it is not surprising that throughout his formal education, from elementary through to college, James C. Lewis, an African American from Atlanta, Georgia, never came across any tales about African deities. But all this was about to change. Fuelled by curiosity, equipped with a camera and drawing inspiration from the well of his imagination, James showed us a whole new way to tell the African story. This spectacular portrayal of the Yoruba Orishas, never seen before, deservedly drew immense admiration from across the world- from Brazil to Portugal and all the way down to Australia. Something that started as a personal journey resonated with multitudes of people of African descent in a way James never would have imagined. In a captivating mix of colourful art and grandeur, the Orishas have been given a visual dimension.

For me, this exhibition was not just about a spiritual quest or the appeal to our aesthetic faculties. It is the deeper impact on our psychology as a race that excites me. That we can see a reflection of ourselves in these demigods is empowering. For a race that has been subjected to deliberate misrepresentation throughout most of history, it is refreshing to be reminded that we have within us collectively and individually, the power and ability to rewrite our story and even dare to present our gods and goddesses in our own likeness.


Maclean Arthur (@atoparties)

The Future of Dolls…

A Girl Like Me……and oh speaks like me too!


My little nephew once sketched a pretty impressive image of himself. A young artist in the making I thought to myself. But something else caught my attention on his drawing. He had drawn himself with a mop top hairstyle. I asked him why he had a Mohawk hairstyle while his picture had a mop top. I already knew what his answer would be, but I just wanted to hear it from him. “Because I want to look like Ben 10” he said. He grew up watching Ben 10 all the time. He would not watch anything else. On his birthdays, he would not appreciate anything more than a Ben 10 watch or pyjamas. Anything that did not have a Ben 10 picture on it would not have much of his attention. He once asked his dad to call him Ben!

This sort of behaviour is admittedly common in growing children. This is when they begin to develop concepts and ideas of what is right and what is wrong, that which is acceptable and that which is not, what is beautiful and what is not. And they do so by watching and observing what they see other people do. They also learn from the books they read, the things they see on TV and the toys they play with. These are the things that influence the way our children see themselves and the world they find themselves in. Children between the ages of 5 and 8 have been found to have a concept of beauty based on the kind of dolls they play with. Beauty for them is the tall, slender, long straight hair, icy blue eye doll mummy and daddy bought for them. That is what they play with day and night. And that is how they want to look! That little girl will have no other hair style but the ponytail her doll has. And can you blame her?! She spends hours caring for her precious little doll. She bathes it, styles its hair and clothes it. She sleeps with it and would carry it everywhere if mummy lets her. She loves it and loves the look of it. That for her is the pinnacle of beauty!

This issue is even more complex with black children. They are caught up in a perplexity of how their skin and eye colour and their hair look so different to that of their elegant dolls. In 2006, Kiri Davies, a black teenage girl recreated the famous Clarke’s doll experiment and documented it in a film called “A Girl Like Me”. This experiment sort to explore black children’s idea of beauty in relation to the colour of the skin. The children were presented with two dolls. Both dolls were identical except for the skin and hair colour. One was brown with black hair while the other was white with yellow hair. These children were asked questions like- which doll they would want to play with, which one they thought was nicer and which one looked bad. 15 out of the 21 black children questioned in this experiment preferred the white doll.

The result from this experiment is quite surprising. But why is this the case? This is why- Children turn to stick to what they are used to and have grown to like. If daddy teaches him to tie his shoe laces in a double knot, that is how he will do it, and he would not have it any other way! If uncle tries to tie it in a different way, he will let uncle know that is not the way to do it! If a child grows up watching Ben 10, that is what he will choose if he is asked to make a  to choice between that and SpongeBob SquarePants. Likewise, if a black child grows up playing with a white skin doll, that is going to be her of standard of beauty. And if asked to tell which one is prettier, a white doll or a black one, she will inadvertently choose the white one! So how do we as a people try to get our children to appreciate the beauty of their own skin colour? How do we make sure at an early age they appreciate and become comfortable in their skin?

Now will you please step forward Rooti Dolls! Created by Mr. Chris Chidi Ngoforo, these dolls are the answer to our problem. They are created as a real image and identity of us as black people- African, African Caribbean and African American. They have wider noses, fuller lips, long curly hair and they come in various shades of black. And these Rooti Creations Ltd dolls also come dressed in a mix of elegant African fabric and western fashion styles. So from an early age, we are getting our children to appreciate the beauty of African products and fashion trends as opposed to all the negative images we see in the media about Africa.

The genius of this product, however, lies in the fact that it speaks, and it does not just speak. It speaks a wide range of African languages! Its interactive! This doll is like Siri and Barbie moulded in a black skin. The children of many African parents are growing up with very little or no knowledge of their parents’ mother tongue. This is even more horrifying in cases where children grow up in Africa but do not speak any local dialect! They can only speak English! This product is the potential solution to the danger of the demise of Africa’s ethnic languages. Children can pick up words and phrases from playing with these dolls and this will serve as a building block to learn to speak and preserve our rich and beautiful African languages.

Rooti Creations Ltd have a range of dolls for every African country and can teach your children words and phrases in the ethnic languages of each particular country. So Ama, the Ghanaian doll can speak words and phrases in Twi, Ga, Danmgbe, Ewe, Hausa and many other dialects. If they demand is high enough, they may make one that can azonto! And the Afro Caribbean dolls can also interact and teach your child Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch and other European languages. Eastern European parent can also have dolls that can teach and interact with their children in Polish, Romanian, Russian and a host of other languages.

Now the solution is before us, so let’s start putting things right! Let us as a people save and preserve our identity as well as our rich and diverse languages. Let’s all root for Rooti Dolls!!

By Maclean Arthur