Ladi Kwali: Get to know the first woman on a Naira note - Motolani Alake

Ladi Kwali, the potter on our N20 Naira note

She was a Nigerian Potter who marked her time with unique creativity and sound crafts.
Before the 80s, documentation of legendary Nigerian feminists and the female achievements has a somewhat fleeting representation in Nigerian history.

Through the years, Nigerian feminists have clamoured for female representation on any of our naira denominations. Little did anyone realize that N20 our note already bore female representation.

From right to left; Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti; an image of legendary Yoruba feminist, Moremi and; Dr. (Mrs) Dora Akunyili

While she was not the named dignitary on the note and we still await the day heroes of yesteryears like Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti or Moremi or Dora Akunyili grace a Naira note, we should appreciate one who already has.

Ladi Kwali

Dr. Hadiza Ladi Kwali Hajiya at work - the picture that was sketched for her image on the N20
Dr. Hadiza Ladi Kwali Hajiya at work - the picture that was sketched for her image on the N20 note. 
(OMG Voice )

Pottery is an African craft that children of the lower middle class to the lower class of Nigerian social class used to dabble in. Equally, it is a craft with deep historical roots across Africa and Asia.
Some people have however become legends over it and secured immortality by leveraging their pottery skills.
Enter, a legendary potter; a woman who became the only female potter on Abuja’s Cardew Pottery Training Centre in 1954; an international grade artisan and 1963 Member of the British EmpireDr. Hadiza Ladi Kwali Hajiya.


Dr. Ladi Kwali was born in the Gwari region, close to Abuja in Northern Nigeria in 1925 — although debatable; the 1984 Nigerian yearbook suggested that she was born in 1920.
One thing is however clear, her named ‘Ladi’ is significant and meaningful — it roughly translates to ‘Born on a Sunday’.
She was born into a family of potters where women, like in other parts of the country moulded things with their bare hands and she learned pottery as a child.
As she grew, she became an apprentice for her aunt and mastered the pottery technique of ‘coiling and pinching’.
Purple article about her documents that her masterful pot designs soon marked her out. Reports suggest that as her reputation soared, the Emir of Abuja, Alhaji Suleiman Barau took it upon himself to visit her and admire her handiwork. He was reportedly won over and bought several designs for use and decoration.
Through school, she developed her skill level till she took it up professionally.

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