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