Jamaica will once again be able to pay with Miss Lou thanks to Island Dolls. The company has launched a new doll of Miss Lou that actually sings her signature songs. Also launched were Keisha and Kelly, Jamaica’s Jamaican language dolls. Yes ‘Jamaican language’ as apposed to Patois. Steven Golding addressed the audience about the need to recognize Jamaican language as an official language and not a derivative of English.
With a strong focus on Marcus Garvey’s beliefs and teachings, Mr. Golding (President of the Universal Negro Improvement Association), pointed out an except from an essay written by Jamaica’s first National Hero. The essay stated, “The time has come for the negro to forget about and cast behind him, his hero worship and adoration of other races, and to start out immediately to create and emulate heroes of his own.” Mr. Golding then pointed out that the paragraph that the quote was taken from ended with the equally powerful statement of “We must inspire a literature and promulgate a doctrine of our own without any apologies to the powers that be”.
Island Dolls and our Ancestors
It was evident that the sentiments of The Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey were expressed by the creation of the dolls which resemble our African heritage and celebrate the cultures which inherently make us Jamaican. As a recipient of the 2016 UNIA Marcus Garvey award for business, Mrs. Beverley Robotham-Reynolds begins her explanation for her 25 year journey with the Jamaican dolls.
She goes on to explain that she feels humbled to be in the company of the mighty Marcus Garvey who also had a black doll company. He purchased the company from Barry Ross in 1919. Garvey was a strong believer in self-image and wanted to express that to young black girls in those times. Mrs. Robotham-Reynolds goes on to explain how important it is for our young girls to see beauty depicted with “our kinky hair, broad noses, and those gorgeous thick lips”. In 2003 Mrs. Robotham-Reynolds was blessed with the opportunity to make Jamaica’s first doll which spoke the Jamaican language by building a Miss Lou doll. In addition, she also got a chance to present the dolls to Miss Lou personally. Since that time, Island Dolls has been creating products which represent the Jamaican image and currently has 10 iterations of dolls including Sassy Swimwear, Inspired Motherland, Tropical Splendor, Bandanna Belle, and the new Usain Bolt inspired Legendary Sports were. The latter was revealed to the public for the first time at the launch.
The Special Things about Island Dolls
Dr. Carolyn Cooper explained an informal experiment she conducted while on a plane. She asked a little girl sitting beside her which doll in the magazine she looked like, the little girl chose the dark doll. When asked which doll looked like her, the little girl chose the lighter skinned doll. Dr. Cooper then explained the importance of showing and celebrating our true image with our children. She explained that it is a way to fortify our self-image so that it is not dictated to us. Based on those beliefs Dr. Cooper endorsed the island dolls collection as a must have for our little girls. She also urged the audience to allow little boys to play with dolls as a way to have them learn how to treat a lady in the future.
Thanks to the great skill of Mr. Grub Cooper, some of the dolls actually speak with a musical infusion. Mr. Cooper picked “Land of My Birth” as the music behind the words as a calling to the memories of what it is to be Jamaican.
The Jamaica Cancer society and Angels of Love will both benefit from the sale of the first 300 of the dolls with a 5% of sales going to assist with the fight against Cancer in Jamaica. This was what Mrs. Robotham-Reynolds described as her philanthropic responsibility as a colon cancer survivor herself.
The launch took place at the Craft Cottage in Village plaza. The dolls can be purchased at Sun Island Jamaica, My Jamaica, and the Craft Cottage. The will soon be available online at Island Dolls website.