Mmule Ramothibe started looking for dolls for her daughter in 2012 and found that there were no dolls that represented her heritage and culture. So she created her own.
South Africa (08 September 2021) – Representation is vital for young girls growing up. It shows them, there are women just like them out there, thriving, and that dreams can be a reality. Representation through play, especially with dolls, is changing more every day.
From dolls with careers in male-dominated industries to dolls with different body types or with disabilities and dolls from different ethnicities. It is important that every little girl gets the opportunity to have a toy that represents the person she hopes to be.
Mmule Ramothibe had this hope for her daughter, but after going from toy shop to toy shop, she realised she would not find a doll that celebrated her culture and heritage. Refusing to give up, Mmule created a doll for her daughter and turned it into a business that would go on to celebrate all the South African cultures not represented by dolls.
The Nandikwa Doll was born and has grown to represent Sotho, Tswana, Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Venda, Tsonga and African women.
“Many see her as a toy, but Nandikwa is far more than that. We use the brand to tell our African stories. Each doll has her unique story of triumph, hope, perseverance, dignity, ambition, resilience, confidence and tenacity through education. To educate a child is to educate a nation. That’s who we are. That is what we stand for. That is the message we carry out across our continent. Our mission, is to knock on all doors possible to help amplify our message. To build this legacy.”
Mmule is hopeful that her dolls will represent even more women as time goes. Her business is growing, and with that, her reach. In 2020, she shared that she had faced trouble finding local manufacturers. While she has had to look to international manufacturers, her dresses are all made locally by the very women the dolls represent.
The next step for the brand, to find moulds that more accurately represent the women of South Africa, natural physiques and the varied skin tones of women from different parts of the country. The future looks bright, and Mmule’s story will bring joy to so many young South African girls.
You can find out more about the dolls via the website here.