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Meet the A Girls, Ayah, Amani and Arefa: African dolls for African girls

The image of African girls playing with white dolls has been a reality, which has become almost commonplace. Finding black dolls in shops, dolls which are representative of Africa’s cultural diversity is often an arduous task. A social entrepreneur in Botswana hopes to change that, and has created a range of African dolls, which celebrate the diversity of African girls and challenge the normativity of white dolls.



Social entrepreneur, Bakani July Johnson, who is based in Botswana has designed and created, “The African Girls Collection”, a range of vinyl dolls, which highlight and celebrate the diversity of African girls.

The journey began in 2007, while Johnson was working in a clinic for children living with HIV. It all started after Johnson realised that there were no dolls on the market that truly reflected the colour, features and hairstyles of African girls.

“I went out to buy a black doll to use in my counselling sessions, but to my surprise I could not find even one. In search, I came across many beautiful white dolls, but none of them reflected the black skin tones of the African girls I was counselling” noted on Facebook.

Photo: The A Girls

Photo: The A Girls

In 2010, Johnson moved to the U.S. and found black dolls existing in some retail stores. After realising the gaps that existed in Africa, Johnson decided to change things and five years later the dolls, Ayah, Amani and Arefa who are sisters were introduced in Botswana.

The A Girls collection depicts African girls with different skin tones, each one beautiful and vibrant like the African child, each features different hairstyles and unique African dressing.


What other better way to re-affirm African identities, pride in African cultures and blackness than to give African children something which is truly representative and looks just like them.

As the creators of The A Girls note, “We believe that the most important thing to a small child is that her dolly is beautiful just like her”.

The dolls can be ordered on The A Girls website and Facebook page.

Source: The A Girls