SPOTLIGHT: Meet Ladi Kwali, The Potter Behind N20 Note
Dr. Ladi Kwali left a legacy of creativity and artworks that blended traditional African and Western pottery.
Here are things to know about the woman behind the N20 note.
- Ladi Kwali was born in 1925, in the village of Kwali, the Gwari region of Northern Nigeria.
- As Pottery was a common occupation among women in Kwali, she learnt the art from her aunty using a traditional method of coiling.
- Her works were large pots used for water jars and cooking pots from coils of clay, beaten from the inside with a flat wooden paddle, decorated with incised geometric and stylised figurative patterns.
- She was moved to produce pottery pieces that were influenced by the Gbagyi tradition and highlighted with personal idioms during her first professional pieces.
- Several of her pots were acquired by notable figures for decorative purposes, including the Emir of Abuja, Alhaji Suleiman Barau.
- During the colonial Nigerian Government in 1950, Ladi kwali's pots were spotted by Micheal Cardew the Pottery Officer in the Department of commerce and industry.
- In 1954, she joined Cardew's pottery training in Abuja where she learnt the western techniques of pottery, like wheel throwing, glazing and made beakers, dishes and bowls. Although, she also continued to produce pots using her decorating skills and traditional hand building.
- In the late 1950s and 1960s, Ladi's work was shown at the Berkeley Galleries in London and through her contacts with Cardew, she became Nigeria's best-known potter and became known all around the world.
- Ladi Kwali, the only woman on the Nigerian twenty (20) naira note, was named after a major street in Abuja and the Cardew Pottery in Abuja was renamed after her.
- In 1962, she was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), an honorary doctoral degree from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria in 1977, the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award in 1980 and the national honour of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in 1981.
- Dr. Kwali died in Minna on 12th August 1984 at the age of 59, but left behind a great legacy.