Description of Figure/Doll

South African woman with soft sea-sand filled cloth torso and ceramic head and extremities. She is an Umntwana ethnic art doll, made from stoneware-fired clay. Her eyes are hand-painted on her face. Her head cover is a white scarf, tied in a triangular style. She has a necklace made from copper wire and beads. She is designed to depict the culture of South Africa.

Link to higher resolution images at ClipPix

South Africa

Location: South tip of Africa

Capital: Pretoria

Main language: IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Afrikaans

Currency: Rand


Construction: clay and cloth

Height in Centimeters: 25

Height in Inches: 10

A Doll Called "Smiling Girl"

Reading Level: 3.80

I live in South Africa in a town called Soweta. This area is just outside of Johannesburg, our nation’s largest city. Johannesburg grew because gold was discovered there.

My name is Tumi, and I am 10 years old. In our language, my name (Tumi) means happiness. I live with my mother. We are lucky to live in a house of our own (even though it only has one room, other than the bathroom). We wash our dishes in the bathroom sink since there is no kitchen in our house.

Each morning, I wake up at 6:00 AM. My mother leaves before I do because she has to travel for one hour on the lorry (bus) to get to her job. At 7:30, I pack my lunch and books and walk to school. On my way to school, I must go through the shanty towns, where very poor people live. I always feel nervous when I walk through these streets because crimes are common.

At school, we learn to read and write in English and Afrikaans. The third language we speak is a native people. Tswana is the language that is spoken in my culture. Besides languages, we study math, science, geography, health, religion, and history.

I usually stop at the market to buy food after school. One day, an older boy bumped into me when I was walking to the market. My book bag fell to the ground. All the money that my mother had given me spilled onto the dirt. Before I could do anything, the boy started picking up the money. At first, I thought that he was helping me. As I held out my hand for the money, he slapped it and began running. I screamed and started crying. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder. As I looked up, I saw a bobby (policeman), asking me what had happened.

When I told him the story, he told me that it would be impossible to find this boy. He offered to walk me home, and he carried my books. On the way, we walked through a street with many shops. There were several dolls lined up in front of a toy shop. They all had African clothes, such as headwraps, foot bands, and necklaces. There was one doll that I really liked. It was named “Smiling Girl.” The bobby watched me as I picked up the doll. Then, he walked into the shop. A few minutes later, he came out and handed me the doll and said, “The doll is yours to keep.” I was so happy that I forgot about being robbed. When we got to my house, I thanked him again, and promised to be careful.

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