(PRWEB UK) 27 May 2011
There is a major new event in the African calendar. On the 28th May at Lekki in Lagos, Nigeria, the ‘Children’s Fiesta’ will celebrate the International Launch of the first ‘Queens of Africa’ picture books ; an event where Nigerian celebrities and Artists will join hundreds of local children to welcome the ‘Queens of Africa’ books based on the Queens of Africa dolls that are already familiar to Nigerian children.
The ‘Queens of Africa’ dolls were developed by Nigerian entrepreneur Taofick Okoya, “to show African children that ‘black is beautiful’ by enabling them to play with dolls that reflect their culture and heritage”. The three dolls are available in toy stores all over Nigeria and will soon be available worldwide. Each doll represents a different tribe of Africa. There is Nneka (Igbo), Azeehah (Hausa) and Wuraola (Yoruba) and they are sold in various outfits. The most popular are the dolls dressed in traditional attire. Okoya comments that “The Queens of Africa dolls were created to inspire and influence the coming generation, especially the ‘Girl Child’, so in designing the dolls and their outfits, the team bore this in mind.”
Okoya was inspired by his work with local child support agencies where the predominant toys available to local children were white dolls. He comments “To the vast majority of people, toys are mere play items or pacifiers for children. Little thought goes into which toys best serve the purpose as a tool for a child's development. Children mentally absorb positive and negative influences which can later be detected in their character, especially in their teenage years. We need to see toys for what they really are…..A fun developmental tool.”
He felt it was critical to have dolls that represent African heritage so the Queens of Africa program was born. Okoya has the support of an impressive ‘Who’s Who’ list of Nigerian artists and celebrities, many of whom are set to take part in the Children’s Fiesta event. According to Okoya, the role of the books is the first step to “take the Queens of Africa project global”.
Okoya’s team worked with a British children’s writer and NLP (Neuro Linguistic programming) specialist , Judy Bartkowiak (JudyBee) and Yetis (LittlePinkPebble), a Children’s Illustrator from Singapore. The dolls are represented as schoolgirls and together with them, the child reader learns about the lives of ancient African Queens. “It was important for us to take the key messages of the lives of the ancient Queens of Africa and thread them through the stories in a way that children of today could identify with and be inspired by.” says Bartkowiak. “Using stories and imagery steeped in African heritage, with a modern twist we bring important messages forward for the young girls”. In addition to the storybooks the launch includes the first in a series of educational books that will introduce key NLP techniques. The first is entitled ‘Learn Confidence’ and it was the first life skill that Okoya and Bartkowiak identified as being required amongst young Nigerian girls as a result of work with local child support agencies.
Okoya works closely with many support agencies in Lagos – the main one being The Bethesda Child Support Agency. The agency supports over 2,000 orphans and vulnerable children in the Lagos area. In addition to opening a nursery and primary school in 2004 that has grown from around 30 to over 150 children, the charity runs scholarship, sponsorship and mentorship programs. Okoya is passionate about giving young black children a strong start in life including making sure that the toys, music and books given to them convey positive messages about their heritage.
The books are being published by the UK independent NLP publishing house, MX Publishing. MX are best known for publishing international bestsellers in the NLP field like ‘Seeing Spells Achieving’, an NLP book that has helped tens of thousands of children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, ADD and ADHD.
Supporting the Queens of Africa program was a natural step says Managing Director Steve Emecz “We like to take on books that the team can get passionate about. The Queens of Africa program has a brilliant and simple message. Growth through a proud heritage. The dolls, music, comics, and now books all promote positive messages and we are delighted to be involved.”
There will be a fundraising element to the books with the Bethesda Child Support Agency as the nominated charity and they will receive donations from sales of sets of the books.
On 27th May the first seven books will be available in more than a dozen countries and in many formats from paperbacks, Amazon Kindle (http://tinyurl.com/443n3mb) and Kobo Books through to iBooks for the iPad. Okoya hopes that the worldwide launch of the books will bring some interest from regional distributors and resellers for the dolls themselves. At the moment the dolls are sold all over Nigeria with most major toy store chains (like Game, Shoprite, Park ‘N’ Shop and Silverbird Galleria) stocking the dolls but they haven’t been launched in Europe or the USA, yet. The Queens of Africa books are available for pre-order from all good bookstores including Amazon UK, USA, Germany, France, Canada and Japan, Amazon Kindle and other formats.
Nigeria is the world’s most populated Black nation with over 150 million people. Located in the West of the African continent Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960. There are over 200 ethnic groups with three major tribes and languages - Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba.
MX Publishing (London)
Steve Emecz – Email: steve(at)mxpublishing(dot)co.uk
Telephone – 0044(0)7837-550025
Queens of Africa (Lagos)
Press – Bee Azubike – Email: beeazubike(at)gmail(dot)com
Trade Enquiries – Taofick Okoya – Email: taoficko(at)yahoo(dot)co.uk
Bethseda Child Support Agency (Lagos)
Ijeoma Ukadinachi. Email :- Ijeoma.u(at)bethesdaagency(dot)org
Photos – Bethseda Child Support Agency
Photos - Queens of Africa Dolls
Photos – Queens of Africa Books