Benin Queen Idia

 

: Benin Queen Idia  Mask

We would like to bring to your attention the planned auction of the IDIA Mask by Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Lionel Galway. The auction is being organized by Sotheby Auction House  in London on behalf of Galway family for the sum of 3.5  to 5 million pounds sterling on 17th February 2011.

This Ivory Mask is a Nigerian national treasure looted from the Palace of the Oba of Benin, Benin City which was then the seat of government of the ancient Benin Empire by the invading British forces in 1897.

With the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria and the incorporation of the ancient Benin Kingdom as part of the Nigerian State this treasured mask now form part of the diverse culture and heritage of Nigerians and should be protected by the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and in fact all Nigerians.

Please sign the petition to stop the auction following the link below:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/benin_ivory_mask/

You can also phone Sotheby on +44 (0) 20 7293 5000 and tell them to

stop the planned auction of the Benin Ivory Mask and for its return to the Palace of the Oba (King) of Benin, Benin City Nigeria. The item was stolen from Benin City thank you”

Presently nations of the world are doing everything possible to reverse the pillaging of the cultural heritage of members state of the United Nation. The Chinese Cultural relic recovery programme is doing everything possible to recover stolen arts work and sculptures and return them to China.

The Egyptians are working hard to recover the statutes of King Rameses 11 and King Tuthmosis III. The Greeks are agitating for the return of the Elgin Marbles that once adorned the Parthenon complex on the Acropolis in Athens and the famous Rosetta Stones.

These agitation and contact at the highest diplomatic level has recently paid off as the United State government has returned seven pieces Angkorian artifacts and the Buddha to Cambodia  through the USA Embassy in Phnom Penh.

We are aware of the efforts made by previous Nigerian government. Just before the start of the second  Festival of African Arts and Culture (FESTAC 1977) commenced effort was made to recover the Idia mask as it was the symbol of the festival but  the request then was denied by the British government..

We are also aware that even recently the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua also made efforts at recovering the numerous works of art from the ancient Benin Kingdom. The House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also passed a motion that all works of art from Nigeria illegally in museums around the world should be safely returned..

As we speak Nigerians are phoning Sotheby Art Auction House on +44 (0) 20 7293 5000to register their protest to the proposed auction while others are signing the protest letter to prevent the sale but that may not be enough. We need the might of the Federal Government to have a proper legal representation through both the Ministry of Culture and Tourism or the External Affairs through the Nigerian Ambassador to the United Kingdom in view of the cost and insurance premium involved in achieving the injunction to prevent the sale and subsequent return of the art treasure. There are Nigerian solicitors willing to handle the case, some of them from Edo State on pro bono but they need to be instructed by the Nigerian government through the Nigerian Embassy in London.

The Benin Ivory Mask created by our ancestors sometimes in the 16th Century is not just a mask as it has a history of several centuries behind it so it forms an integral part of the culture and tradition of our people and in fact Africans as it is the symbol of many African organizations  in the world and the FESTAC

We thank you for your prompt action in this matter as the auction date has been set for 17th of February 2011. The phone number and link to the petition is above.

Thank you.

signed

Edo Global Organization.