I can hand on heart say I have never been a fan of dolls, not even as a child. When most little girls were playing with dolls, I could be found curled up somewhere, with my nose firmly stuck in a book. But recently, when we received a request for an interview from a local self-taught doll maker, I genuinely sat up and took notice!
Looking through pictures of dolls, for the first time ever, I could see why some adults are such avid collectors of dolls. I could easily see myself collecting these dolls. But who’s behind the cute stuffed toys?
Palapye-born and raised Goabaone Dikole (pictured below) diligently and lovingly makes the adorable toys by hand. The pretty 24-year-old has fittingly dubbed her business “Child’s Play Rag Dolls BW”.
Where it began – mum really knows best!
In an interview with YourBotswana, Goabaone explained the idea was born a long time ago when she was barely out of her nappies. Goaba, as her friends and family affectionately call her, says when she was a little girl, her mum, like any other parent will tell you, would get frustrated at having to replace toys as fast as she bought them. Let’s face it, most toys do fall apart within days. Having to watch the pennies, her mum could not keep up with the pace the kids were breaking the toys. So, the industrious mum resorted to making her own. Goaba says her mum would make cute dolls from fabric, and it did the trick. But not only that, it planted a seed in Goaba because years later, her mum’s work is spurring her on to to carry on her legacy.
Goaba simply took her mum’s idea and ran with it. While her mum’s dolls were basic, Goaba is a lot more adventurous and plays around with countless ideas.
“I grew up loving dolls and really enjoyed creating things for myself from a young age.”
“My inspiration comes from my mom. She taught me a lot over the years and has always been very supportive.”
Cute as a button dolls for both kids and the young at heart
Creative Goaba uses materials including soft fleece, rags, stuffing cotton and any soft material that works. Her cute as a button dolls range from “simple basic sock dolls to rag dolls, teddy bears and character decorative pillows.” Out of the materials, she carves out the cutest rag dolls that mainly represent Africa and its people from whom she draws her inspiration. The high level of craftsmanship belies the length of time it takes Goaba to complete one item. It’s surprising and impressive that once she’s conceptualised an idea for a new doll, it usually takes a couple of days to complete! How long she takes to complete an item also hinges on the size and complexity.
“I’m driven by the desire to showcase the African continent and the beauty of its people.”
Naturally, her immediate target audience is kids. But she also targets young at heart adults who want to feed and channel their inner child. Goaba, who hasn’t flown the nest yet, makes her dolls out of the home. she shares with her mom.
Public response has been lukewarm
Goaba says she hasn’t encountered any real hurdles thus far. However, she worries that locals have yet to embrace the arts wholeheartedly. Her concern stems from the fact that for the most part, there is no real appreciation for her craft because sometimes people don’t get what she does, which explains the lukewarm response to her products. However, highly motivated Goaba is not deterred. She’s proud of what she does – and rightly so!
She dreams of scaling up her business to greater heights but has not approached government agencies for assistance. But she prays for “some sort of ‘sponsor’ to boost my business” to be able to procure the necessary materials and machinery. Goaba currently does everything by hand, and although she enjoys it, it is a long, hard slog. Having the right machines would mean she turns out more polished products more quickly.
“What’s on the horizon for me and my craft? I see myself having a small company that manufactures dolls and related stuff with a customer base throughout Botswana and hopefully, internationally.
“I would love Batswana to support me wholeheartedly and help me grow my talent to greater heights.”
Child’s Play Rag Dolls BW prices range from an affordable 15-Pula ($1) to 300-Pula ($27). Please contact or WhatsApp (+267) 71985953 to stay abreast of what is in stock, the prices as well as to make enquiries.
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