Who is Ladi Dosei Kwali?
Ladi Dosei Kwali was one pretty and hardworking Nigerian woman, from a village called Kwali in Gwari region of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. In Kwali, back in those days, pottery was indigenous female traditional work, where every indigenous woman would do. Her work was exceptional that her picture was displayed on 20 naira note of Nigerian currency and that was manifested by the help of her aunt.
Early Life of Ladi Dosei Kwali
Ladi Kwali started all off as a pottery apprentice under her aunt’s administration and directives as earlier mentioned. She was smart enough to always adapt to new challenges. Because of this quality, she was able to learned the craft by the use and application of traditional method of cooling and pinching.
Ladi’s craft began to go viral and the news of her pottery pieces were influenced by the Gbagyi tradition during her first professional years.
Kwali’s younger brother, Mallam Mekaniki Kyebese, stated this:
“Even in the early years of pottery making, Ladi Kwali excelled in the crafts and her wares were often sold even before they were taken to the markets”
Several pieces of Ladi’s crsfts were acquired by the Emir of Abuja, Alhaji Suleiman Barau, and also caught the attention of Michael Cardew, an English studio potter and Pottery Officer in Northern Nigeria Department of Commerce and Industry.
The Rise of Ladi Dosei Kwali
Ladi moved to the top by the help of the famous English studio potter, Michael Cardew. He actually used his office to promote and spread the good craft works of Kwali in the 1950’s. As a pottery officer in the department of commerce and industry in 1951, Michael Cardew launched the Abuja Pottery Training Centre along with Kwali in 1952. The fusion of her great works with viral designs became her signature style taking her work beyond the shores of the country. Ladi was left with no choice than to join Cardew’s pottery training centre in Abuja to become the only female potter then in Nigeria in 1954.
Ladi Dosei Kwali’s hand made pots became arts designs that were used in international exhibitions of Abuja pottery organised by Cardew in 1958, 1959 and 1962. Most of her work include, glazed dishes, bowls and beakers, which she created with stylised animal sgraffito. Till today, her works are great assets in the popularity of Abuja pottery beyond the shores of Africa.
Awards and Achievements
Below is the list of awards and achievements of Ladi Dosei Kwali: Kwali had been honoured in many ways inwhich many of her awards are listed below.
- 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.
Kwali died on August 12, 1984 at the age of 59 in Minna, previously after Cardew died.
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