Looted cockerel to be returned to Nigeria

Image source, Chris Loades

Image caption,

The Benin bronze cockerel is to be returned to Nigeria later this month

A bronze cockerel kept at Cambridge University that had been looted in a British raid on what is now Nigeria will be handed back this month.

The Benin bronze, also known as an "okukor", has been given to Jesus College since 1905.

It was taken off display in 2016 and the Legacy of Slavery Working Party, (LSWP), recommended that it be returned.

According to the college, it was the first institution to announce that it would return a Benin Bronze in 2019.

The LSWP, which includes academics and students, was set up in 2019 by the college to investigate historical links it may have to the slave trade.

The group concluded that the statue "belongs with the current Oba at the Court of Benin".

Image source, PA Media

Caption for the image

Archivist Robert Athol with the bronze statue of the cockerel

The Oba of Benin heads the Eweka Dynasty of Benin Empire's historic Eweka Dynasty. It is centered on Benin City, modern-day Nigeria.

It will be returned to Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments in a ceremony at Jesus College, attended by delegates from the commission and Benin, on 27 October.

His Royal Majesty, Oba, Omo N'Oba N'Edo Uku Akpolokpolo II, Ewuare II, stated: "We are indeed very happy and commend Jesus College to take this lead in making restitutions for the plunder which occurred in Benin 1897.

"We truly hope that others will expedite the return of our artworks which in many cases are of religious importance to us."

Image caption

Sonita Alleyne was appointed Master of Jesus College in 2019.

Sonita Alleyne Master of Jesus College said that it was a historic moment.

She stated that "this is the right thing to have done out of respect for its unique heritage" and "the history of this artifact".

"More organisations have followed our example since we decided to return the bronze in the wake of the college's Legacy of Slavery Working Party extensive research."

Prof Abba Ita Tijani, director general of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria, stated that the commission was "receiving antiquity for both the Benin and the Nigerian people."

Image source, Chris Loades

Image caption

The cockerel was donated by the parent of a student at the college

According to The British Museum, close to 1,000 bronzes were taken following the 1897 occupation of Benin City by imperial troops.

About 900 of these artifacts can be found in museums and other collections all around the globe, including Britain's Museum.

Jesus College's bronze cockerel, donated by a parent of a student, took pride of place in the college dining hall.

Image source: Robert Edwards/Geograph


The Benin bronze statue was prominently displayed in the college dining hall

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