Ladi Kwali was born in the village of Kwali a “Gwari tribe” in a
region of present day Abuja, where farming was mainly indigenous to male
and pottery indigenous to female. Kwali who grew up in a family in
which womenfolk made pots for a living, learnt to make pottery as a
child from her aunt.
With the help of a famous English studio
potter, Michael Cardew, Kwali came to international prominence for her
talents in the 1950s. Cardew, who was appointed to the post of pottery
officer in the department of commerce and industry in 1951, launched the
Abuja Pottery Training Centre along with Kwali in 1952 and spent the
following fifteen years teaching and learning from Nigerian potters.
would later join the Abuja pottery and become its first female potter.
She later became an instructor Ladi’s pots were noted for their beauty
of form and decoration. The Emir of Abuja, Alhaji Suleiman Barau
acquired several pots made by her. In the palace of the Emir was where
Michael Cardew saw Ladi’s work in 1950. Ladi Kwali would later become
prominent after this discovery by Cardew Her pots became art objects and
Facts About Dosie Kwali
- Kwali had
been honoured in many ways. In 1962, she was awarded an MBE (Member of
the Order of the British Empire). In 1977, Ahmadu Bello University in
Zaria awarded her an honorary doctoral degree.
- The Nigerian government awarded her with highest national honour for academic achievement, Nigerian National Order of Merit Award.
-In 1981, she also received the national honour of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON)
- A major street in Abuja is named after her. The street is called Ladi Kwali road.
- The Abuja Pottery was renamed the Ladi Kwali Pottery in the early 1980s.
- Her picture adorned the back of the Nigerian 20 naira note, making her the first Nigerian woman to be on a naira note.
- After Cardew died the previous year, Kwali died on August 12, 1984 at the age of 59 in Minna.