Women of Wonder

Promoting self-love is child's play, thanks to these African doll makers

The toys in Caroline Hlahla and Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu's Sibahle Collection celebrate the beauty of diversity

30 August 2020 - 06:00 By Toni Jaye Singer
Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu, left, and Caroline Hlahla with some of the diverse dolls in their Sibahle Collection.
Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu, left, and Caroline Hlahla with some of the diverse dolls in their Sibahle Collection.
Image: Supplied via SowetanLIVE

This Women's Month, we’re shining the spotlight on some of the SA women who are stars in their field of work and areas of influence. Today’s inspirational "Women of Wonder" are entrepreneurs Caroline Hlahla and Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu. Click here to see some of the other women to whom we’ve previously paid tribute.

WHO ARE HLAHLHA AND VILAKAZI-OFOSU?

They’re the team behind Sibahle Collection, a Johannesburg-based toy company founded with the aim of creating dolls with which African children could truly identify.

CLAIM TO FAME

Hlahla and Vilakazi-Ofosu’s gorgeous African dolls with natural hair and the important message behind them — that there’s beauty in diversity — have caught the attention of local and international media.

Nobuntu Morake, who has the skin condition vitiligo, with 'Ndanaka', a doll in the Sibahle Collection.
Nobuntu Morake, who has the skin condition vitiligo, with 'Ndanaka', a doll in the Sibahle Collection.
Image: Alaister Russell

The Sibahle Collection also includes dolls designed to reflect the realities of the Rainbow Nation. For instance, there's "Ndanaka", who has vitiligo, a condition where the loss of pigment causes discoloured patches on the skin, and "Zuri", who has albinism.

Sibahle dolls are a hit with parents in SA, other African countries, Europe and the US, reports Business Insider.

They've also been the muse for other merchandise created by Hlahla and Vilakazi-Ofosu, including school bags, party accessories and books.

WHAT MAKES THEM INSPIRING?

The women are helping to promote self-love and challenge outdated beauty stereotypes, one diverse doll at a time.

Hlahla told TimesLIVE, “These dolls teach children to appreciate beauty in all its forms and grow up feeling like they are enough, they don't have to look a certain way to stand up proudly and feel beautiful.”

“Representation for children is very important. It informs their outlook on life and their self-esteem,” said Vilakazi-Ofosu.

FUN FACT

The name of each doll in the Sibahle Collection means beauty in a different language.