The A Girls Arefa

Name:  The A Girls Arefa

Made by and When:  The A Girls (The Africa Girls), 2015

Material:  Vinyl and cloth

Marks: The head or nape of the neck is marked, The A Girls.

Height: 18 inches

Hair, Eyes, Mouth: Black Afro-textured and styled wig, brown stationary eyes with applied upper eyelashes and painted lower eyelashes, closed-mouth smile

Clothes: Blue floral-print belted tunic, navy-blue knit pants, silver lamé and sparkly material flat shoes; blue pearl stud earrings are worn in the doll’s pierced earlobes.

Other: Designed by Bakani July Johnson to fill the void of Black dolls in Africa, Arefa, which means, God has Given, is from a set of triplet dolls. Each doll has its own story. Arefa’s dream is to be a doctor, just like her mama.  She loves reading books, meeting new people, and writing about her family’s travels. She is described by her family as a storyteller. 

Johnson’s Inspiration for Creating The A Girls,

In 2007, I was working in a clinic for children living with HIV. During a session about personal hygiene with a sweet 9-yearold I found myself talking about cleanliness and hair care using a white dolly. Oblivious to what’s out there, I went out to buy a black doll to use in my counselling sessions, but to my surprise, I could not find even one. In search, I came across many beautiful white dolls, but none of them reflected the black skin tones of the African girls I was counselling. I started to talk to friends about this “black doll issue” and most agreed that doll makers should be doing something about it.

Flash-forward to 2010, when I moved to the U.S. and found black dolls existing in some retail stores. Instead of staying angry at the gaps that existed in Africa, I decided to do something about it. This was the beginning. Today, five years later, we are introducing the unique and beautiful A Girls to the world.

At the time of this installation, the 18-inch A Girls are no longer in production. Read more about Arefa and the history of The A Girls here.



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Published by DeeBeeGee

Doll collector, historian, co-founder of the first e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls; author of black-doll reference books, doll blogs, and doll magazine articles.

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