For the people of Ajiwa town in Batagarawa Local Government Area of Katsina State, pottery has been a source of livelihood for many years. Aside agriculture, pottery has remained the main occupation of the people.
The town, which is about 15 kilometres from the state capital, is blessed with a rich soil for farming and pot-making. Over the years, the clay soil has provided a means of livelihood for the teeming population of the town as most of them engage in pottery, especially during the dry season.
A visitor to the town is always greeted with beautiful display of pots along the road, waiting for prospective buyers. The pots are usually made by men, women and the youth. There is hardly any house in the town that does not engage in such venture.
People from every part the country visit the town, especially on Tuesdays , which is their market day, to either buy foodstuff or purchase pots.
The clay pots are of different types and sizes, each with its unique features and design. Their costs also differ. Some of the pots are called ‘Yar wanka, Karhi, Kulo, Kafi Talle and Asusu.
In the olden days, locals use these pots for cooking and storage, but with modernisation, people use them for flowers, incense, beautification and as gift items during naming or wedding ceremonies, amongst others.
The history of pottery in the town dates back to hundreds of years. Most people, especially the elders, said they inherited the art of pottery. Thus, it has been passed on from generation to generation.
An octogenarian, Malam Salisu Mohammad said, “I have been in this pottery business for the past 65 years of my life. And this is what I only know how to do best.
“To tell you how it all started is immaterial; what is more important is how it has helped sustain us all these years.
“People come from far and near to patronise us. There is blessing in this business and I have witnessed it.
“I raised my children through this business. I feed and live on it. Some of my children are also in it. It is a heritage from my parents and I intend to pass it on to my children.
“I just completed this set of 100 incense burners for a client who ordered them for her upcoming wedding. This is just among the many orders we receive on a daily basis.’’
Sani Alange, who has spent over 25 years in the pottery business, said he inherited the trade from his parents. He makes an average of 20 big pots in a day, which costs between N250 to N350, depending on the type and design.
He said that pottery, as an art, requires a lot of skills and craftsmanship to attract prospective buyers. According to him, this has become necessary because most buyers use the pots to decorate their homes.
He said a pot maker would usually start the process by getting the best clay soil known as laka in local parlance, and some special breeds of grasses, which are mixed to come up with the product before heating them up in a special furnace to add value to them.
“There is what we call ‘Yar Rufi, a master pot we usually run over the moulded clay to get its replica, after which it is removed and worked upon to get the perfect pot size before heading to the furnace.
“A good potter will place his finished products on at least three hours of heat in the furnace, for perfect, strong and quality work, before the painting stage,’’ he said.
Hassan Adamu, one of the youths who make pots in the town, said it’s a good venture that does not require much capital, adding that the returns are appreciable. He said there was the need for government to protect local producers.
“It is disheartening to see that despite all we do here, people still find it necessary to import decorated clay pots from China and other places. With support from the government we can produce better pots than what they bring outside the country,’’ he said.
Hajiya Khadija Aliyu told Daily Trust on Sunday that pottery is part of her life and source of income over the years. “From this business I was able to support my family and marry off my daughters.
“Most of my customers are women. They patronise me, especially when there is a wedding ceremony. Of recent, I sold my incense burners to a woman who came all the way from Abuja.
“So, you can see that I love this work and will continue to do it. What is needed is for government to come in and support us to enable us do more. We can do better. Although we are not fully equipped, this trade has helped us,’’ she said.
A recent visit to the town revealed that a centre built by the government to support women in the pottery business has been abandoned and in a dilapidated condition.
Investigation showed that most of the equipment provided for the centre have rusted and most part of the structures vandalised. Of the three furnaces provided for the heating of the pots, only one is partially working. Grasses and reptiles have taken over most parts But during a familiarisation tour of the comatose women centre at Ajiwa, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Badiya Mashi, said government would do everything within its power to resuscitate it.
(Culled from Dailytrust)