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Who is Ladi Kwali?

Ladi Kwali, Nigeria's famous potter.


Today, Google is celebrating the life of a notable Nigerian, Ladi Kwali, with a doodle on its search homepage. Ladi Kwali was an educator, ceramicist, glassworker, and potter. Kwali is appraised for showcasing the beauty of Nigerian art through her intricately decorated earthenware designs. These designs have had their way to the international community and it received so many credits for her style. Ladi Dosei Kwali was born in 1925 to a family whose main business was pottery. She hails from Kwali, Abuja, Nigeria where she was taught the art and craft of pottery by her aunt. She learned the coil and pinch methods of pottery during her childhood before she crafted her style of pottery. Kwali was well known for molding beautiful everyday containers decorated with animal iconography. She quickly became popular for her works after local aristocrats began to showcase her beautiful masterpieces as home decorations. She was brought to the limelight in 1950 by Michael Cardew, the founder of Abuja’s first potter training facility. She later joined the Abuja Pottery Center in 1954. She became the first Nigerian woman to be trained in advanced pottery techniques. Kwali was able to add more flavor to her pottery designs by fusing her traditional style with the innovative methods she learned at school. She was the first to fabricate a hybrid collection of pottery stylized with zoomorphic illustrations.

Her craftwork crossed the borders in the 60s as they were exhibited in Europe and America. She received international credit for her works. Kwali later took her crafts to the school as she became a university lecturer. She was awarded a doctorate from Ahmadu Bello University in 1977 and the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award in 1980.


Till today, Kwali is seen on Nigeria’s twenty Naira note. She is the first and only Nigerian woman to feature in a currency.

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