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Britain Will Return a Stolen Bronze Cockerel to Nigeria

The Benin bronze or 'okukor' was stolen from Benin City, now Nigeria, in the 19th century and given to Cambridge University's Jesus College.

Cambridge University's Jesus College will return a bronze cockerel which was looted by the British in Benin City, now Nigeria, in the 19th century. The cockerel, which is referred to as the Benin bronze or 'okukor' was removed from display back in 2016 after students and academics who are part of the Legacy of Slavery Working Party (LSWP) took a vote and insisted it be repatriated to Nigeria, according to the BBC. This was shortly after students at Oxford University had called for the removal of the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes from Oriel College.


At least 900 bronze artifacts are still housed within the British Museum after imperialist troops occupied and pillaged what was then Benin City in 1897. The Daily Telegraph reports that in 2016, students managed to obtain the support of Prince Edun Akenzua, the great-grandson of King Oba Ovoramwen, from whose kingdom the bronze artifacts were looted. In an interview, Prince Edun said, "It is something I have been campaigning for myself for many years without much success." The then 82-year-old added that, "It is about time these statues came home to their original owners."

Speaking about the bronze cockerel which stood for years in the main hall of Jesus College, Master of Jesus College Sonita Alleyne says, "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 denied that the college was attempting to erase history and claimed that the decision to return the Benin bronze was a result of the LSWP's work.

The LSWP, which includes both students and academics, was launched in May of this year to investigate the links the Benin bronze may have to slavery and the slave trade.

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