you know any great Nigerian history please share with the rest of us.
Below is the history of Ladi Kwali, the woman on the N20 note…
best known potter who was awarded a Doctorate and was made MBE in 1963
for the level of detail and skill she utilized while making her pots.
Dosei Kwali (1925-1983) popularly known as Dr Ladi Kwali was born in
1925 in Kwali town in the present Federal Capital Territory,
she is the best known of the Abuja potters. Making pots was women’s
work in Kwali and the entire Gwari villages, therefore Ladi came to
Abuja (the then Suleja) with knowledge of traditional Gwari pottery.
did not at first take to the idea of using wheels and kilns and the
other paraphernalia of the European potter, but proved to have a
natural ability to throw. She was picked from her traditional home
Kwali to the then Abuja the present Suleja because of her natural
ability in making pots.
Abuja Pottery Training Centre was established 1950 by an English
potter, Michael Cardew, who was sent to the Abuja area by the then
colonial government, ostensibly to improve the quality of local work.
But he found himself, for the next 15 years, in a symbiotic working
relationship with local potters, in which he taught and was taught by
potters like Ladi Kwali.
Cardew introduced wheels and kilns to the centre, he also learnt about
traditional firing methods and ornamentation. Kwali on the other hand,
was initially reluctant to adapt to the wheel, preferring the
spiralled coil method of building pots. She however, discovered she had
a natural flair for the wheel. Cardew encouraged her to decorate her
work, something she had not done before, and he even fired some of her
traditional work in the Abuja kiln.
was later to become a very popular member of the touring lecture team;
her easy nature and ability to communicate made her well liked and
appreciated in Europe, Britain and America. She became Nigeria’s best
known potter and has been honoured in many ways; she was given a
the time she died in 1983, Dr Ladi Kwali was Nigeria’s best known
potter. She left a rich legacy of her work and a school of ‘students’
who picked up from where she left at the Abuja Pottery Training Centre.
Over the next decade, her ornamentation skills became more
sophisticated, and probably because of improved firing methods, she had
the opportunity to exhibit her work in Europe in 1958, 1959 and 1962.
pottery was also displayed during Nigeria’s independence celebrations
in 1960. Dr Ladi Kwali remained associated with the Abuja pottery works
till she died. She gave lectures and demonstrations at home and abroad
on her craft throughout her career.