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Break the mould, doll

18 August 2015 - 02:11 By Sibongile Khumalo

She is black and trendy, and young South African girls love her. Meet Momppy Mpoppy, who is a step ahead of other black dolls across Africa who are often dressed in traditional clothes.Decked out in the latest fashions and sporting an impressive afro complete with a tiara, Momppy could play her own small part in changing the way that black children look at themselves.Maite Makgoba, founder of Childish Trading and Manufacturing, said she started her small business after realising that black dolls available on the market "did not appeal to children"."They were frumpy and unattractive, some in traditional attire. That is not the reality of today," said the 26-year-old entrepreneur.The dolls are assembled in China, but the real work starts in Makgoba's tiny workshop in downtown Johannesburg, where they are styled and packaged before they are sent to distributors.Inside the two-room warehouse, miniature pieces of clothing are sewn and pressed by hand. Appearance is everything.Eye-catching ballerina skirts, denim pants and "on trend" jumpsuits with bright high heels are some of the items in Momppy Mpoppy's impressive wardrobe.Among the doll's different outfits are Denim Dungaree Delicious, Rockstar Tutu, Mohawk Fro and Seshweshwe Fabulous - with each doll costing R180.To complete the experience, the company also makes matching clothes for girls who own the doll."This is more than just a business, we are creating awareness that our dark skin and thick afro hair are pretty as they are,"We want kids to see beauty in Mpoppy, to see themselves while playing with her," said Makgoba."Dolls are often white, people in magazines are white, even in a country like South Africa, where the majority is black."Black children grow up in a world that does not represent them. Everything is skewed towards whiteness."Parents and children have taken to the doll. But we still need to convince large retailers to sell our brand," she said.Nokuthula Maseko, 30, a mother of two, said her children had "fallen in love with the unusual doll" after she came across it on social media - Childish Trading and Manufacturing's biggest marketing tool."I like the fact that the doll looks like my kids, in a world where the standards of beauty are often likened to Caucasian features," said Maseko. "The kids love the doll." But the Johannesburg mother said she was not in a hurry to throw away her kid's white dolls."At school they play with their white friends, so this is my idea of maintaining that realism," Maseko said. AFP..

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