China-inspired Nigerian potter sees future in his craft
For Joseph Gajere, a Nigerian ceramist for more than two decades, a trip to China has redefined the craft from being a “walk of life” to a “way of life.”
Gajere was one of 50 potters selected from different developing countries to learn ceramic designs and methods in China last year.
“The opportunity has inspired me greatly, and I see a brighter, rewarding future in what I do,” he told Xinhua in his Ushafa Pottery Village workshop in the suburb of Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
During the trip which lasted about six weeks and took him and other trainees to several cities in China, they learned how to do various ceramic works using various machines.
“China is at the peak in terms of ceramic works; Africa has a lot to learn from China,” Gajere said.
Following the capacity building he received in China, he sees the potential of transforming creations from simple clay materials to internationally acceptable ceramic works.
While in China, he made a number of ceramic designs and a collec-
The Chinese have influenced my work greatly. They have given me hope that we (Africans) need to wake up to see how we can improve our pottery business.”
tion of Chinese porcelains which have been displayed at various international exhibitions since he returned late 2016.
Some of Gajere’s works were on display at a recently held art exhibition at the China Cultural Center in Abuja.
His works, particularly the Chinese porcelain and ceramic designs, caught the attention of the exhibition guests which included top government officials and diplomats.
“The Chinese have influenced my work greatly. They have given me hope that we (Africans) need to wake up to see how we can improve our pottery business,” he said.
The ceramist told Xinhua his greatest joy is the ability to teach and show his colleagues most of the methods he was taught in China.
He currently heads the Ushafa Pottery Village which is a unit under the aegis of Arts & Culture/Social Development Secretariat in Abuja.
At the pottery village, many widows and young women are taught to make clay works to earn a living. They learn the craft, using either machines or manual ways to design local pots.
Every year, Gajere tutors between 10 and 15 new trainees at the pottery village.
“So, this gives me assurance that what I’ve learned in China will go a long way as I pass it onto every new generation of potters who come under my tutelage,” he added.
Joseph Gajere, Nigerian ceramist