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The issue raised by Sylvester Ogbechie is a matter of justice as it applies to Africa. When it comes to the resources of Africa, whether it is its minerals or cultural products, there is this persistent cloud of exceptionalism. What is good for the goose is not always good for the gander in African case. Being liberal or conservative has nothing to do with opinions relating to how the West as a corporate group treats African humanity. Such dichotomies may make sense in the US or even British domestic politics. They don't have any relevance to the fundamental Western (and now Eastern) political economic attitudes towards Africa and its resources – arts, minerals, commodities, etc. Sotheby may have the right to sell anything stolen in Africa because it is Africa. Not Europe. Anything stolen in a territory that now belongs to Nigeria by imperialist invaders (who created Nigeria in the first instance) may be good for the market. The same logic will not apply to France, not Germany. Sotheby can sell anything looted in the court of Benin but not in any of the royal courts of Britain. Sotheby can sell anything looted in Benin Palace but not in Buckingham Palace. Our heritage thought leaders would tell us that “the cultural patrimony of England belongs to the world to enjoy” but the arts of that heritage is found only in England and its descendant/sister states in the West. Not in Africa. In fairness, they would also claim that “the cultural patrimony of Benin and Nigeria belongs to the world to enjoy” but most of these are in Western Museums all over the world! Since we stand in different positions in history, it is certain that we will have different views in history. However, those who would form opinions about the arts and crafts of Benin, and the justification for the descendants of conquistadors and looters to benefit from property stolen by their ancestors need to first understand the history that led to the British invasion of Benin. I have one recommendation for reading: Leo Otoide’s “Prelude to the British ‘Punitive Expedition’ to Benin: An Analysis of the Galleway Treaty of 1892,” in *Precolonial Nigeria *(Africa World Press, 2005), pp. 525-536. The attack was the culmination of the British efforts to remove one of the most formidable obstacles to their conquest of what is now southern Nigeria. That was seventeen years before Nigeria was created as a subject state of Britain. That war almost obliterated the institution of Benin Monarchy. It survived but the 1897 attack led to some permanent damages. For sure, it lost its sovereignty. The Benin Monarch is still there and I know that those who are associated with the institution have been duly notified of the pending Sotheby sale. Likewise, the Nigerian officials know of this development. It will not surprise many of us that this state created by Britain is impotent to speak for Benin. Is this not what African postcoloniality is about? Is this not how it was designed? It is left for those who are the inheritors of the Benin monarchy and who recognize it as the spirit of their existence to at least raise their voice as to why this sale is illegal, immoral, and unjust. For those of us who are peddlers of ideas and knowledge in the western realm, I hope we can at least be informed of history before we form opinions. I have read a posting claiming that Benin used slave labor to produce its royal art and because Benin traded in slaves it has no basis to make claims of its stolen cultural objects. Both statements are wrong. Benin contributed the least to the Atlantic slavery in the entire West African Atlantic seaboard despite the fact that with its powers and military might it could have become the main mart for enslaved captives. Its lukewarm attitude towards human trafficking was unprofitable to its European trading partners. This made the slave ship flying Portuguese, Dutch, English, French flags look elsewhere. The artists of Benin were not enslaved. They worked for the king and for other elites, and they were compensated for their brilliant works. Yes, there were slaves and other socially marginalized people in Benin but Benin was never a slave-based society unlike the entire Americas and unlike the British Empire of the 17th and 18thcenturies. Benin's production of wealth was not slave-based. What is just, legal, and moral cannot be discussed or settled in the vacuum of power. Power as well as the political will and ability to mobilize or coerce public opinion determine justice, legality, and morality at any time. Sylvester has invited those who have profited from their study of Benin arts and other African arts and thereby build illustrious careers along the way, to consider helping Benin make the case why this sale is wrong, if they think so. The fine ideas presented by Jonathan Fine are useful for sharpening the argument against the sale. Akin Ogundiran UNC Charlotte H-AfrArts H-Net Network for African Expressive Culture E -Mail: H-AFRARTS@H-NET.MSU.EDU http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~artsweb/