Illustration by Bianca • Click to enlarge.

Traditionally, African dolls were carved out of wood or made out of fabric offcuts. This plastic doll, known as Clonette, was born during the colonial era and was initially made in Ghana. It was the first mass-produced doll in Africa and can still be found on markets nowadays. Traditionally, there are rituals associated with it, including the belief that proper care for the doll can ensure fertility and survival of children. 

Ironically, this doll looks nothing like African. (On a side note: many of us grew up with Barbie dolls and... ahem, none of us actually looks like a Barbie doll.) The Clonette doll has gained popularity over the past few years ever since she started appearing in design shops. I guess her retro style speaks to all of us: she's a sweet reminder of our lost childhood. 

I found Ada in a tiny shop in Bordeaux, France, in November 2008. I immediately thought of what I had just read in The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel, asked a few friends to play along and what started as a project with ten friends, quickly became a blog, turned into a collective experiment with strangers and a beautiful project based on trust and creativity. Ada travelled non-stop for six years until she went missing. Zadie took over and started the second chapter of this project. I can only wish for six more years of magic. 

Glad to have you here!