Mildred Munjanganja shared a video of her then-three-year-old daughter Leila Danai, which has since sparked a lot of admiration and praise from the online community. In the clip, which was originally posted in July, the mother and her daughter were discussing Danai’s day as the two drove home from school.
The little girl told her mom that a classmate named Owen shared he wasn’t too fond of her hairstyle while they were in school. “Owen said he didn’t like my hair, but I said, ‘I like it,'”
A proud Munjanganja cheered her daughter’s bravery, saying, “Good!” and asked her to elaborate.
“He said, ‘I don’t like that hair, it’s crazy,’ ” Danai continued. “And I said, ‘My mommy made it. If you don’t like it, I’ll keep it for myself.'”
Since then, the video has amassed over 1.9 million views, 404,600 likes and shares, and even caught the attention of Hollywood star Viola Davis, who reposted it. Danai is currently four years old, but her mother told People that she had no clue the video would become so popular, even globally.
“[That’s how] this whole thing started. I posted [the video in July] and somehow Viola Davis picked it up and reposted it. And then it had, I don’t know, 30 million views in different places.”
“I’ve had people reach out to me from Pakistan, from Syria, from different countries and they’re telling me how this video has given them so much hope, how her standing up for herself has resonated with them and it’s given them confidence, and now they’re thinking about how they’re raising their children and what they’re teaching their kids.”
This is not the first time the mother and child have had thought-provoking conversations. Munjanganja clarified that she started filming her daughter to establish a stronger relationship with her grandparents in Zimbabwe, who are unable to be with their granddaughter in person and are constantly asking for updates.
Danai’s poise and assertiveness, according to her mother, stem from her deliberate practice of imparting the idea of “not allowing other people’s opinions to affect you” in her daughter.
She expressed, “That’s the one thing that we have spoken about, is people will have different opinions and we can thank them for their contribution, but we don’t have to soak it in. We don’t have to take it, we don’t have to accept it, we don’t have to allow it to ruin our day. We can simply acknowledge that it’s their contribution, but it’s theirs.”
She stated that she is very deliberate in teaching her child to embrace the traits that make her unique. During Danai’s early school years, the mother recounted how she used to return home yearning for “long, flowy, silky hair,” just like some of her classmates in her predominantly White school.
As a result, Munjanganja, who works at Allivet.com Pet Pharmacy, took her daughter to a dog show, where she learned a valuable lesson and reinforced the idea of embracing her beauty.
“What I did was take her to a dog show to see different breeds of dogs, see that they’ve got different colors, different types of fur, etc. And she thought they were all cute and they’re all beautiful,” she stated.
“That’s how I was able to say, ‘Hey. So you see how you think all these dogs are cute, one is white, one is black, one is brown, one has curly hair, straight hair, straight fur, … it’s the same thing with people. We have different textures and colors, but at the end of the day, our differences are what make us beautiful,’ and that really resonated with her.”