Jesus College Cambridge, is set to return looted Benin Bronze Cockerel to Nigeria on October 27.
The bronze cockerel, part of looted Benin Bronze by British Colonial Forces in 1897, was given to the college in 1905 by the father of a student.
The decision to return the artwork to the current Oba of Benin’s Royal Museum comes after a campaign by the college’s students to return it, following the research on the historical, legal and moral status of the college’s ownership of the Bronze by its Legacy of Slavery Working Party LSWP, established in 2019.
Post the decision the college had removed the statue from display since 2016.
The piece will be returned to Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) in a ceremony at Jesus College attended by delegates from the commission and Benin, on October 27.
Speaking with itv (Britain) Master of Jesus College Sonita Alleyne said it is ‘a historic moment’ adding, “This is the right thing to do out of respect for the unique heritage and history of this artefact. Since we took the decision to return the Bronze following the college’s Legacy of Slavery Working Party (LSWP) extensive research many organizations have followed in our footsteps.”
His Royal Majesty Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Ewuare II said, “We are indeed very pleased and commend Jesus College for taking this lead in making restitution for the plunder that occurred in Benin in 1897. We truly hope that others will expedite the return of our artworks which in many cases are of religious importance to us.
“Finally, we wish to thank the student body of Cambridge University for bringing to light the historical significance of this revered piece of the Royal Court of Benin.
Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed thanked the college for its trailblazing action, whilst anticipating similar steps from other institution in possession of Benin Bronzes.