Africa: Cambridge University To Return Looted Benin Bronze To Nigeria
A bronze cockerel at Cambridge University that had been looted in a British raid on what is now Nigeria will be repatriated.
The Benin bronze, known as an “okukor”, was bequeathed to Jesus College in 1930 by a former British Army officer.
In 2016 it was removed from display and the Legacy of Slavery Working Party (LSWP) has recommended it be returned.
Master of Jesus College Sonita Alleyne said they were not trying to “erase history”.
She said the decision came after “diligent and careful” work of the LSWP into the legacy of slavery at Jesus College.
“We are an honest community, and after thorough investigation into the provenance of the Benin bronze, our job is to seek the best way forward,” she added.
The LSWP, which includes academics and students, was set up earlier this year by the college to investigate historic links it may have to the slave trade.
Almost 1,000 bronzes were taken after Benin City, in present-day Nigeria, was occupied by imperial troops in 1897, according to the British Museum.
About 900 of those artefacts are housed in museums and collections around the world, including the British Museum.
Jesus College’s bronze cockerel, donated by Captain George William Neville, whose son had been a student there, took pride of place in the college dining hall.
Benin bronze statue was prominently displayed in the college dining hall
Earlier this month Aboriginal artefacts taken from Australia more than 100 years ago were handed back by Manchester Museum.
Indigenous leaders came to the UK to collect 12 items, including sacred ceremonial artefacts and a garment made with emu feathers.
No specific date has been given for the return of the statue, nor any details of how it will be done.
By Chinyere Ogidi