LIFE AND TIMES OF LADI KWALI

Ladi Kwali was born in 1920 in the village of Kwali, Abuja to the family of potters. As a child, she learned to make pottery from her aunt through the traditional method of coiling. Her crafted pots were used for domestic purposes like cooking and storing water whereas the rich used them for ornamental and decorative purposes. The Emir of Abuja, Alhaji Suleiman Barau was enchanted by the beauty of her work, which made him to buy a whole collection. An English studio potter Michael Cardew saw her work at the Emir’s palace, he was surprised by the level of her work, as a result he stayed back for the purpose of spreading her work to the whole world. Michael found the first pottery training in Abuja, where he recruited and trained men. Ladi Kwali was the first woman to be enrolled at the Abuja pottery Center.

Ladi Kwali’s works were displayed on Nigeria’s Independence Day of 1960. During her London famous tour, she showcased her pottery works, which she was honored with the award of the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Despite being illiterate, she was honored with a doctorate degree by the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Kaduna State in 1977; she was also a part-time lecturer and demonstrator at the university. In 1983, she was honored with the national honor of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).  On the 12th of August 1984, Ladi Kwali died at the age of 59 in Minna . She was married, but had no children. She was considered a great mother by many of her students. Her portrait is featured on the Nigerian twenty Naira currency note.

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