Ladi Dosei Kwali (1925- 1984) was a Nigerian skillful potter that will forever remain a symbol of pottery in Nigeria and West Africa. She was born in the village of Kwali in the present Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria, where pottery was a widely practised
occupation among the women. She learned to make pottery since she was a child from her Aunt using the traditional method of coiling. Her favourite method of pottery was the traditional African method, in which her works were baked in a bonfire. Her pots were credited for their beautiful look and decoration, and most of them were acquired by the Emir of Abuja.
Ladi came to Abuja (the then Suleja) with knowledge of traditional Gwari pottery. She did not at first take to the idea of using wheels and kilns and the other paraphernalia of the European potter, but proved to have a natural ability to throw. She was picked from her traditional home Kwali to the then Abuja the present Suleja because of her natural ability in making pots. She made a lot of beautiful works which include pots from clay, large pots used as water jars, and small decorative clay bowls so on.
Michael Cardew, an English studio potter who worked in West Africa for twenty years, saw Ladi Kwali’s works and asked her to join her training center in 1950 and which she late America through her contact with Michael Cardew. Between 1950 and early 1960s, her works were shown to great acclaim in London at Berkeley galleries and during Nigeria independence celebration in 1960.
She became Nigeria’s best- known potter, although she could neither read nor write, Ladi was awarded a doctorate degree by the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria 1977and was later given MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1963 and national honour of the Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) in 1981. She was also given Silver Award for Excellence, Tenth International Exhibition for Ceramic Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.
She died on Aug 12, 1981 and to honour her, the Abuja pottery was renamed the Ladi Kwali pottery and a major street in Abuja is called Ladi Kwali.
She appeared at the back of the Nigerian’s twenty naira currency note, the only woman to feature on Nigeria currency note and a sculpture of her is being done by Nigerian sculptor, Ambrose Diala, to be erected in front of federal secretariat.