CULTURAL EXPERIENCE AT DADA POTTERY
In Ilorin, Kwara State lies an all female run pottery workshop that only a handful of people are aware of. You’ll be forgiven if you pass where it’s located as this workshop is hidden in plain sight without a signboard to indicate its presence.
Ever heard of Dada Pottery? No? Well watch our video to get a picture of this amazing cultural wonder of Nigeria.
We had a trip recently and the aim as to unravel Kwara State as much as we could during our stay. Dada Pottery was on the itinerary but it became even more important to see when we found out it was one of the 37 cultural wonders of Nigeria.
The only issue was no one knew exactly where to find it. The only option was to get a ‘local’. Luckily you guys know Unravelling Nigeria has contacts in different area codes so after a couple of calls, we found someone that could lead us there. Mr Mopa Bassagi if you’re reading this, thank you for leading us there, negotiating for us and indulging us.
Mr. Mopa Bassagi
Deriving its name from the community, Dada pottery is said to be the largest in Nigeria and is as old as Ilorin town. The skills are mostly passed down from generation to generation. Through pot making, these women have been able to care for their families despite the conditions they work in. It is said that there are about 100 women and they usually vote a leader who oversees the area.
Upon entry to Dada pottery, you see heaps of clay, finished pots, broken pots, sheds, children running around and various women going about their work. Here, they produce both red (pupa) and black (dudu) pottery wares.
Broken pots equals waste of money and time
After we got to the workshop, we waited to be received by the head of the potters – Alhaja Raliat Asaka. Without much fanfare, she got to work and took us through the pot making process. It was so fascinating watching her skillfully work her way through the clay. She also explained each step in Yoruba while Mr. Bassagi translated for us.
Alhaja Raliat at work
Molding the clay after an already made pot. Charcoal is put inbetween both to make it easy to remove
How gorgeous are these girls?
After the molding/decorative process she told us the pots would then be put into a kiln/hearth to ‘bake’. However, it was too early for that process. Usually they make a lot of pots and they’re all put in at the same time.
Some pots in the kiln/hearth awaiting baking
To make up for not being able to see the baking process, Alhaja proceeded to take us on a tour of the facility and also show us the various types of pottery wares they make. They had water coolers, (aamu), open mouth bowls (ape), soup bowls (isaasun), fryers (agbada), pitchers (oru), traditional money safes/piggybanks (kolo), large dye pots (ikoko-aro) and large fermentation pots (ikoko-isa).
The unbaked pots on the left are the kolos (modern day piggy banks, can you see the slit?)
The other potters noticed us and came out to welcome us and the kids took pictures with us. Before leaving, we bought a few pots and promised to tell more people about the pottery.
The little girl loved the camera
Our new friends
One of the pots we bought
This visit was especially special as most people who go there don’t get to see the pottery process. This show is mostly put on for students.
While watching the women is memorable, the environment that they work in is nothing to write home about. The workshop can definitely be kept in better conditions and if the government can’t do anything about it, we’re sure private organisations interested in promoting tourism (including us) can step in. A signboard indicating its presence would be a great start.
Nigeria’s next top model?
Travel With A Pen showing them the finished product
The pots are affordable and if this was in a city like Lagos or Abuja they would get more patronage. This would also be a delight for foreigners coming into the country.
It’s also interesting to note that the same techniques Alhaja Raliat showed us are used by Chinese potters too. This shows that their craft despite being an ancient art is being used by some of the best out there that draw lots of tourists.
If you watched our insta story yesterday this must look familiar (don't worry swipe left to see the insta video). All the way in China, this potter is using the exact same technique Alhaja Raliat showed us yesterday but under better conditions. You can also see people watching with keen interest. Ya'll could have seen this technique in person but you didn't sign up 😜. Hello Nigerian govt, how about you help our Dada potters out so people can flock to see them like they do to China? I mean they're one of the cultural wonders of Nigeria Thank you @zizi_a for showing me the video. Original video of Chinese potter was by @rockyewing #pottery #potters #dadapottery #kwarastate #nigeria #nigeriantourism #travel #travelblog #travelcurator #vacation #holiday #traveler #trip #unravellingnigeria #wanderlust #traveldiaries #cntraveler
A post shared by Unravelling Nigeria (@unravellingnigeria) on Oct 3, 2017 at 12:33am PDT
Click on the video to play, then click on the arrow on the right to see Alhaja Raliat. See the difference in the environment?
Dada Pottery is a must visit if you’re ever in Ilorin and don’t forget to support the women by buying a pot or two.
THINGS TO NOTE
They open everyday from 8am – 5pm
Entry is free but to watch them make the pots/get a lesson you have to pay. We paid N10,000 (this price doesn’t apply to all, just us. :))
The process of baking the pots in a kiln happens between 12pm-3pm.
Location – It is located in the Dada Area of Ilorin. The Dada area is located at Okelele, Ilorin East Local Government. It is on the left side of the Sobi Specialist Hospital Road, Alagbado, if you’re coming from Murtala Mohammed Road. Other landmarks in the area are Sobi Hills, and the Sobi Barracks.
So what do you think about Dada Pottery? Will you be adding it to your list of places to visit whenever you’re in Kwara State?
*Reviews are based on opinions and personal experiences, and may differ from person to person
*prices written are based on the time the visit was made and is subject to change by the owners.