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Inside Kano’s age-long pottery market

To all passersby, including the blind travelling along the Maiduguri road, between Wudil and Gaya local government areas of Kano State, the beautiful display of…

To all passersby, including the blind travelling along the Maiduguri road, between Wudil and Gaya local government areas of Kano State, the beautiful display of well crafted and improved design of various forms of clay-wares cannot go unnoticed as they are placed just by the roadside, attracting interested parties to look inward for prospective business transactions.

This business has been existing for many years, sustaining the livelihood of many who depend on it to fend for themselves, families and other loved ones. 

Pottery is one of the ancient crafts still being practised in most parts of Nigeria today. It is Nigeria’s most cultural material that caught the attention and interest of early British archaeologists.

Pottery is the act of making earthenware containers. It is the art of forming objects of clay in a moist plastic condition and drying them by either exposure to the sun, air, fire or baking in kilns or ovens.

The various objects on display include vases, trays, gourds, cash vessels, frying pans, water and burial pots, charcoal pots, incense burners and many other clay-made articles, which all have their peculiar seasons of demand. However, the business thrives as modern day people find them alluring.

It was observed that these pieces of improved art and design are now very popular as they are found in every household in one way or another, serving several purposes.

What could be more astonishing and bringing regular income to the potters is the high demand of incense burners and vases of different sizes usually bought in large quantities, especially during marriage ceremonies.

In particular, the incense burners are now incorporated into gift packs, which serve as souvenirs to guests who attend marriage ceremonies and other traditional gatherings; as such, attracting high demand, not even from the state alone but neighbouring states and countries in general.

Speaking about the business, the chairman of the non conventional market that is yet to be given the desired recognition by the local and state governments despite its contributions, Sani Abdullahi and chairman of the market, Rege village, said the business had done everything to them despite the existing challenges bedevilling it.

“This business of ours has been in existence since the time of our forefathers. We all grew up in it so no one can actually tell you about when it started. It is a business we inherited and are still living by.

“This market and the business are widely known across the country and even internationally. People buy our hand crafted wares and go along with it. As you can see, we have different kinds of things here. We had very few types that are not up to five different things, but now, we can boast of over 10 designs, and they are improved.

“The vases and all these ones we are now painting in different ways to make them more appealing to the eyes were not there before, but now, they are the ones even bringing more money as they are being bought almost on a daily basis.

“I have already spent 40 years doing this business. The most expensive one here is N10,000 and the less expensive is N50.

“I got married, built two houses, improved the business and lots of other things in life; the same thing with all other businessmen and women here,” he said.

Potters demand govt’s intervention for excavation site 

Abdullahi lamented that the government could not see the contributions of the business to the growth of the state’s economy, adding that the farmlands where they get clays belong to individuals, and they are not finding it easy to excavate.

“We are, therefore, calling on the state government to assist us with sites for the excavation of clay.

“The only challenge is a place for excavation. It is really challenging. People often throw us out of their farmlands at will. 

“The government must do something to help us. Most of the time, it is team work. The females do the work inside homes and bring it to us outside here to sell,” he added. 

He said the owners of such places often ejected them at will, which affects their operations. “Anytime we were ejected we would suspend production until we got an alternative place,” he also said.

Justifying their request, Abdullahi said some residents in the state still used clay pots for cooking, water storage and as flower-stands for house and office decorations, among others.

He said allocating permanent places for them at the outskirts of towns would enable them burn the potteries and prepare them for use without problem.

Abdullahi added that this would also go a long way in protecting people’s health, particularly those who are asthmatic or have sight problems.


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