RE: 19TH CENTURY ARTIFACT FOR SALE
- View SourceHi
for my late response of your opinion concerning my mail titled: "19th
century artifact for sale. I must confess that i was somehow emotional and overwhelmed by some of the responses. However, it is quite normal for people to ask a dealer questions on give their word concerning a product put forward for sale. So i want to say 'thank you' to you all for giving me your honest views on the topic.
Now, I'm going to answer the questions concerning the artifact one by one in order to clarify things. There are about ten questions but I'll shorten them to seven in order to reduce the length of this mail which is quite long. I'm not a professional salesman and some of my answers may seem a bit amateurish but i hope the answers will be enough to answer the questions.
1. CONTACT THE NIGERIAN COMMISSION FOR ARTS AND MUSEUM
When i first saw those words above, I thought "aahh... who wants to have his fingers bitten off trying to feed a hungry leopard by hand"? when i said by hand, i meant that if i try something like that, i'll be the one to do everything required to transfer the artifact to the commission (I'm not even sure if they deal in objects like this) and at the end of the day, get NOTHING for my sweat and labour. Unlike America and most countries in Western Europe, Nigeria is not a country where things are done to the satisfaction and contentment of both parties involved. Most Nigerians do not believe the country
is worth wasting one's sweat on because at the end of the day, they just end up doing more damage than good to your cause. The artifact could even be destroyed if they can't find a place to put it or it could end up in "private pockets". Just type JTF and the Niger Delta in Google and search and you'll get a picture of what I'm saying. Whole communities are sacked and displaced by a task force set up to ensure peace and security in the region. Billions of dollars are paid for projects that are never executed. Now you're telling me to consider handing over a 19th century artifact to an agent of the Nigerian government?! Nah... I don't have the time o o .
2. ON ARTIFACT'S RETENTION IN PROXIMITY CLOSE TO THE COMMUNITY WHERE ITS HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE AROSE AND PRESUMABLY PERSIST
It is the environment that determines the survival of the "things" in
it. If the environment is not conductive to certain things, they become extinct. The artifact was design as paraphernalia of communal wars. But since there is no more communal wars, it would have disappeared long ago like its "colleagues" if it had not been converted into another use by the community. Secondly, the artifact's existence hangs on the African Traditional religion (ATR) for sustenance. Most of the objects associated with a religion
usually passes away with the religion if the religion ceases to be practiced.
For example, whole libraries were burnt in the medieval period because the books in the library was considered heretic. Tons of images and carvings have been destroyed because they were associated with a lesser religion. it is the same with this artifact. 90% of the people in the area no longer practice the ATR. it is only the old people that indulge in things like that. if the old generation passes away, who them maintains these relics? Infact, some of my relations were against the move to bring in the artifact because they
considered it as idol worship. If you check the photos in my gallery, you'll see dry blood of sacrificed animals on the floor. Very few people in the locale can afford to sustain things like that for a long time.
Also, art appreciation in Nigeria is very low. Most people don't value artifacts (of this nature). If there were people in my area who were willing to buy it, I wouldn't be here.
3. ON CRITERIA FOR APPROPRIATE CUSTODY AND PROTECTION
By the words above, i simply meant... if you think this thing can be useful to you, you can preserve it or you appreciate it, then come and take it before it is wasted. i discussed this with an old uncle and he simply laughed. He said "it is like a man giving his daughter away in marriage. If you desire the daughter, you can take care of her and the children she'll born for you, and you can pay the bride price, then come and let's talk..." same applies to this artifact.
4.�ON COMMUNAL PROHIBITIONS AND HOW PREVIOUS CUSTODIANS PROTECTED THE OBJECT FROM THREATS
there were communal prohibitions like... when i wanted to to take photos of the artifact; I was told by the men that "it can kill". Funny! Isn't it?
Prohibitions and myths are only potent when the people believe in them. Also, prohibitions change with time. Most people no longer practice the ATR and therefore don't care about any taboo or prohibitions regarding the artifact.
On how the previous custodians were able to protect the object from threat, well...
it's a long story. Before, the object used to be kept in the clan's shrine. But anytime there is conflict between the community and another, the first thing the other community will try to do is either to steal the "idol", or destroy it because they think it is the object that made the community strong.
Now in most parts of Africa, if something is taken from a public place, it may not be considered as an offence. But if you go into another man's house to steal something, that crime is punishable by banishment or death sentence depending on the situation. That was why the object was moved from the shrine to the house of the eldest man because no one will go there to steal or destroy it. it is seen as a taboo.
Now, every deity has a reason why it was established. if a deity outlives its purpose, it will be destroyed and replaced with another deity. THE MAIN REASON WHY THE COMMUNITY WANTS TO GET RID OF THE OBJECT IS BECAUSE IT NO LONGER SERVES THEIR PURPOSE. The purpose for which the object was conceived is no longer compatible with the needs of the people today. It was established as a "warhead" then because there were constant communal conflicts, raids,and wars. But today, who wants war? Nobody! The community wants development, security and social amenities, not war. So technically, the object has outlived its usefulness and its time for it to be changed.
The only thing delaying them from changing the artifact is the principles and the cost involved. On the principle, two deities cannot stay together under the same roof (like the ark of the God of Israel in the house of Baal), especially when their purpose conflicts. What we have now (the artifact) is an object of war,
but the people now want development and peace. you can't put a deity of war and peace together so the artifact has to go.
However,the process of changing the artifact was delayed due to the costs associated with such operations. it is presumed that it'll cost about N1million (about $7,000) to perform the rites and ceremonies used to change deities. In the olden days, the wealthiest men and the titled chiefs simply contribute the needed amount. After the rites have been performed, the "useless/older" object would be carried in the midnight into thick forest and buried- just like that. But now, nobody is willing to shoulder the cost because they don't want to have anything to do with idol worship or simply, some don't have the money. That's why the artifact is put up for sale.
5. HOW WILL THE COMMUNITY BE AFFECTED BY THE TRANSFER OF THE OBJECT, COMMUNAL BENEFITS AND LOSES
The question has been answered in no 4.or let me simply put it like this: if one deity goes, the community simply creates another deity to replace it. On the benefit, the object has outlived its usefulness so they don't have anything to gain and they don't have anything to lose if they let it go.
6. DOES CUSTODIANSHIP CONVEY THE RIGHT OF SALE OF THE ARTIFACT AND ITS REMOVAL FROM THE COMMUNITY?
It is generally agreed by the elders that they have to change the artifact. once there is agreement, then the person in custody of the artifact is required to do what is required to remove or change it.
7. ON MY THOUGHTS ON THE TRANSFER OF WORKS BEYOND THE SOURCE COMMUNITY
I think it's a matter of whether the artifact can be preserved and appreciated in its local community. If they can preserve it, then no problem. On those articles and publications� well� talk is cheap. If a whole oil bunkering ship detained by the Nigerian Navy can disappear without trace (MT African Pride), how will they be able to secure� lets say, the Queen Idia Mask if it is returned by the British museum?
419,BUT A WONDERFUL STORY
Let me say, I am very saddened by the thought of being perceived as a fraudster. I was open and honest when I stated the origin, history, and particulars of the artifact. I also uploaded the pictures of the artifact for all to see ( in my photo album).i gave my name and location, Delsu (Delta State University, Abraka.) where I teach
in the department of accounting. Just go there and ask: "who is Edesiri?" and you have me. If I wanted to do 419, I wouldn't have given that information. I didn't ask anyone for part payment or even quote any price in the mail I sent earlier. I simply said "if you are interested in acquiring the artifact, kindly reply the mail so we can begin the process of transferring the artifact into your custody." I didn't tell anyone to part with money. I know that Nigeria's image has been tainted by these 419 things. If I wanted to do 419, I wouldn't have presented myself as a Nigerian. It would be a waste of
If you want to transact business with anyone, secure the person's contact; don't send money through western union where the identity of the receiver cannot be ascertained. Use wire transfer or SWIFT. So if there is any problem, just contact the police or EFCC and you'll get your money back since the account can be traced to its owner.