The Cambridge University college master described the return of a sacked bronze rooster to Nigerian representatives as “a memorable occasion”.
The statue, known as “Okukur”, was taken by British colonial forces in 1897 and donated to Jesus College in 1905 by a student’s father.
The decision to return it was made in 2019 after the student campaign.
A ceremony is taking place at the college to sign the handover documents.
“It’s hugely significant,” said Sonita Alleyne, a master of Jesus College. “This is an important occasion.”
He said returning the artifact was the “right thing to do” and said the bronze piece had “cultural and spiritual significance for the people of Nigeria”.
“It is part of their ancestral heritage,” added Ms. Alleyne.
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The college’s Legacy of Slavery Working Party concluded in 2019 that the cockerel “belongs to the current Oba in the court of Benin.”
The Oba of Benin is the leader of the historic Eweka dynasty of the Benin Empire, centered in Benin City in modern day Nigeria.
Once the documents are signed, ownership will be transferred to a Nigerian delegation.
The ceremony, which will include speeches and music, will be streamed online in Nigeria.
Ms Alleyne said the Nigerian delegation will decide how and when to move the Okukur.
The statue was removed from display at the college in 2016 and will be handed over to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria.
Oba from Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, said it is hoped that others “will accelerate the return of our works of art, which in many cases are of religious importance to us.”
- Cambridge University
The robbed Cambridge Uni cockerel will be returned
- October 15
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