Story of the Woman on the ₦20 Naira Note
Before you read this post, bring out your ₦20naira note. Done? Now, look behind it. Do you see a woman that seems like she is eating Amala? Yes! What’s her name? I will give you thirty seconds.
Now, have you heard of pottery? No? It’s the creation of plates, pots, and other things from fired clay.
Back to the woman behind the twenty naira note – first of all, she is not eating. I bet that’s what you believed throughout your childhood. She is making one of the best-known ceramics in Nigeria.
She is a potter. She makes artworks using fired clay. Her name is Ladi Kwali.
Ladi Kwali is a Nigerian potter born in 1925, in Kwali, Abuja. She was born to a family of potters. Her aunt, who was her first teacher, taught her all she knew about pottery. And over time, Kwali improved on what her aunt taught her and developed her unique style.
She created beautiful artworks that enticed local aristocrats. The emir of Abuja, Alhaji Suleman collected her artworks for display. During a talent tour by Michael Cardew in 1950, he discovered her art in the palace of the Emir.
Michael Cardew founded the Abuja pottery center in 1952, and Ladi became the first female to be enrolled in the institute (1954). She finished her training in 1959.
Ladi’s pottery style was different. She used the center’s stoneware clay to create pots using the traditional free-hand modeling technique in which she was adept. She further improved them with lines with space between them, so she could draw in between the figures of different animals.
With these designs, she broke into the international sphere. She was critically acclaimed in both European countries and America.
In 1977, she received a doctorate from Ahmadu Bello University. And the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award in 1980.
She got a lot of awards and honors, which includes her first exhibition in New York, at Skoto gallery. It was on the 16th of March 2017.