In 1966 Danlami started a four-year apprenticeship at Abuja Pottery (established by Michael Cardew in 1951) under Michael O’Brien. He was trained with Ladi Kwali and Bawa Ushufa, and then worked for Michael Cardew’s pupil, Kofi Athey, at the Jos Museum of Pottery in Nigeria. In 1975, he came to England to work with Michael Cardew himself at Wenford Bridge and from 1976-79 studied at Farnham School of Art.
Danlami Aliyu returned to Nigeria in 1979 and was employed by the state as a photographer. His photographs won gold and bronze medals in the Nigerian Arts Council Exhibition of 1982, but he persuaded the state government to start a pottery. In 1985 he and his brother, Umuru Aliyu, helped Michael O’Brien (who had succeeded Cardew at Abuja in 1965) to set up the Maraba Pottery. In 1988 Umuru took over Maraba Pottery and Danlami established his own studio, the Al Habib, in his hometown of Minna. This pottery became the model for small government ones, intended to stimulate rural development.