World NewsBritain: Cambridge University returns statuette stolen during colonial period...

Britain: Cambridge University returns statuette stolen during colonial period to Nigeria


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Cambridge University today officially returned to Nigeria a bronze statuette of a rooster that was stolen a century ago. It is the first British institution to return an object that was looted during the colonial period.

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A delegation of Nigerian officials will receive, in a symbolic ceremony, the “Okukor” statuette, thus completing a process started by a student demonstration in 2016. The artwork, donated to the university by a British soldier, is one of hundreds of sculptures, engravings and bronze objects looted in 1897 from the kingdom of Benin, an area that today corresponds to the southwest of Nigeria.

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“I am really proud that we are the first institution to meet this moral claim and return a bronze from Benin,” Jesus College director Sonita Alain told AFP. The College removed the rooster, which until then adorned the dining room, in 2016 after a group of students campaigned against symbols of the UK’s colonial past.

“Belongs to the people of Nigeria”

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When asked if the statuette was “missing” from Jesus College, Alain replied: “No, no. It’s completely normal. It belongs to the people of Nigeria.” Professor Aba Isa Tiyani, head of the Nigerian delegation and director of the Nigerian National Museums and Monuments Commission, said he was “thrilled and happy” that this ancient sculpture was still “in excellent condition.” He also hoped that other museums and institutions would follow Cambridge’s example.

Tijani will travel to Scotland tomorrow to receive another bronze for Benin from the University of Aberdeen. And other European and American institutions have announced their intention to return many stolen objects. France will return 26 works from the royal treasures of Dahomey that until now were kept in the Musée du Branly in Paris. In contrast, the British Museum, which has the largest collection of bronzes in the world, has not made such a commitment.

source: iefi merida

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