09 September 2011

Dolls are our heritage

By: Zongezile Matshoba

Grandmother, mothers, and aunts throughout Africa and in other parts of the world are making dolls that our sisters and young girls play with in. These dolls vary, signifying different stages of life. Women, as custodians of the family, have to take care of the household, grew children, teach morals and house chores. They spent more time with children them informally.

Phumeza Mntonintshi, Albany Museum's Curator of Anthropology, and her assistant, Nomthunzi Api, were making their commemoration of the heritage month during a focus week organised by the Museum's Education Department.

"Dolls make us deal with our culture, and appreciate it," Mntonitshi told the groups of learners that were listening with beaming faces. "These are not your ordinary dolls that are factory made, that you buy in the shops".

Is your doll meaning anything? Well, to many Africans, different dolls mean different things.

"They are used as a unifying instrument amongst families," Mntonintshi said.

There are small healing dolls covered with beads, and with medicinal plants inside for example. These are given by diviners to protect you from bad spirits haunting your life. Other forms of dolls are for leisure, while others are gender based or mark the varying age stages of children.

Whatever traditional dolls one has, symbolizes certain things. They are an important part of our culture then, now and will remain so in the future.

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