Barbie is old news, Ntomb’entle Doll is here

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Ntomb'entle in traditional Ndebele, Tsonga and Swati attires
Ntomb’entle in traditional Ndebele, Tsonga and Swati attires

I logged into Facebook and my timeline was filled with the craze of the new African doll Ntomb’entle being the buzz word from South Africans. The posts moved from how proud people were that they could now buy dolls which represent their culture to everyone wanting to know where they can order their own doll.

Ntomb’entle (beautiful lady) is a black South African manufactured doll which repreesents South African cultures through its attires from Zulu, Sotho, Ndebele, Xhosa, Pedi, Swazi, Venda and Tsonga . The Duet’s (Molemo Kgomo and Mpumi Motsabi) idea of creating Ntomb’entle is to help South African children to learn about their heritage and also encourage diversity.

Self-image has always been one of the biggest contributing factors to identity crises issues among young black African women. “Ngwana o tshwana le le coloured” is a line in one of the African’s famously sang wedding songs, which basically means “the bride is as beautiful as a coloured lady”. These songs bring different ideas to African women that only light-skin coloured people are beautiful, this dates back to the olden days when African women used skin lightening creams to enhance their complexions.

Mpumi Motsabi (30) , a wife and mother of two was raised in Soshanguve (Gauteng) by her grandmother, but at age 7 she moved to Boksburg to stay with her single mother. Motsabi was a born entrepreneur and that helped her grew independent. “I am an entrepreneur and Sales & Marketing manager for Ntomb’entle dolls. Entrepreneurship started early in my life, from selling ice cream to selling sweets. I have always been looking for opportunities and to find one that drives a greater agenda for radical social change has made me really excited,” Motsabi elaborated.

The lady behind Ntomb'entle: Mpumi Motsabi
 Ntomb’entle’s Sales and Marketing Manager: Mpumi Motsabi

In 2005 Molemo Kgomo partnered with Mpumi Motsabi to invent Ntomb’entle. It was conceived when she couldn’t find a black doll. There was no offer on shelves which her daughter could relate to in any of the retail outlets. They were all white with flowing blonde hair. She went to the extent of getting it from family in other parts of the world. This was when it became clear that there was a need for such a doll in South Africa and even broadly, Africa. A doll which would help create an acceptance of self within the black child since it has black skin, short hair, brown eyes and a curvier frame.

I have seen traces of myself in Ntomb’enhle and I want to do all I can to eradicate this exaltation of anything white! When I came across these dolls I realised that this was the way to do it. Little girls love their dolls and if they see themselves in the dolls, it may lead to self love and want my daughters to be able to reflect African beauty through them .

Ntombi’entle’s challenge was acceptance from large retailers, their response was that the market was not ready for a black doll, but the biggest challenge that comes with the business at present is broad scale distribution. However this did not stop them from pushing forward, thanks to the digital world we live in, people are able to order their dolls through social media and get their dolls delivered, their customers who have received the dolls are so excited and this kind of demand will prove the retailers wrong very soon. The demand exists in pockets throughout the world and supplying this demand most efficiently is still being determined. Motsabi said their future plans include growing the range of Ntomb’entle in different apparel with a selection of changing clothes.

For more information, contact Motsabi on Facebook (Mpumi Motsabi) or email (ntomb’entle@gmail.com). It is encouraging to see more Africans manufacturing their own products, keep flying the African flag high.

www.nunnovation.com

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