Are we done fretting about princess culture yet? Because I think I've found the final word on what it really means to be a princess.

Abzeita Djigma is a real live princess from the Western African country of Burkina Faso.  She is "a direct descendant of the famous warrior and legendary Princess Yennenga," she has a message for us: "Go where people need you." She wants to enlighten the lives of her people -- literally. 

Djigma is an engineer and the mother of four grown children, and she is using her education, her title, and her beautiful self to spread the word about an initiative by her company, AbzeSolar, whose mission is to bring basic, sustainable solar products into African villages, focusing on educating boys and girls so they can lift their families out of poverty. She saw the poverty and ignorance weighing her people down, and, she says, "I said to myself, 'Something needs to be done.'"

According to this profile in Gizmodo: 

The locals install and sell the products themselves, thereby providing renewable electricity to the people, but also boosting local economy. The International Energy Agency estimates that there are 620 million people living without power in sub-Saharan Africa alone.


Her “Mama-Light” product line includes solar-powered street lights, solar water heaters, portable reading lamps, huge arrays of solar panels for businesses, and more. Then, AbzeSolar provides technical training to the local communities so that folks know how to install and maintain the solar products.

In her short TED talk, above, Djigma mixes sociological jargon with pure charm, saying, "We don't want charity, we want to be part of the power chain." Dressed in a shimmering robe of orange and gold, she seems to delight in using her very appealing persona to attract people to become involved with her projects, and sees herself as a true mother to her people, with a direct responsibility to help them make their lives better.

She says, "Mothers are always lighting our life" and she urges people to look around them, not to pursue pleasure, but to find out who needs help. 

I have no real information about how effective her company is, but I was struck by her method. In the comments section of the Gizmodo article, one reader complained that her company could have saved money by printing plain black-and-white labels for their products, rather than marketing the lights with a full color headshot of the princess.

But she is a beautiful woman with an open, happy, shining face. What's the use of being a beautiful princess if you can't use your beauty for good? How secure she is in her strength, her openness, her womanhood. In her talk, she speaks of teachers who bring their babies with them, and who nurse them while they work, ". . . and everyone is cool!" she smiles; and she says that when you educate girls, you educatea all of humanity. She mentions that her presentation includes images of herself hiking through rural hills, but laughs and admits that "I like also to be a female, yes . . . " motioning at her shining dress, her chic heels, and her bold jewelry. 

This is the kind of princess I would like my daughters to be: women who go where they are needed, bringing light when they can, enjoying the dresses and the shoes if that's what they enjoy, and above all, looking around to see who needs help. This kind of princess culture, I can get behind.