March 2016 | Nate Pedersen

Cambridge Removes Bronze Statue, Considers Repatriation

cockerelokukor.jpgFollowing a string of student protests against symbols of Britain's colonial past, Jesus College at Cambridge University has removed a bronze statue of an African cockerel from its main hall. The University is considering repratiating the statue, called "Okukor" to Nigeria.

The statue is part of a group of bronze sculptures collectively called the "Benin Bronzes," which were looted from the former kingdom of Benin (modern day south Nigeria) in 1897. After British officers were killed during a trade mission to Benin earlier that year, the British navy launched an invasion of the kingdom, culminating with the burning and looting of Benin City.

Two of the Benin Bronzes were repatriated to Nigeria in 2014 by the grandson of a participant in the invasion. The move was applauded by Nigerian officials, who called upon European nations to return a further 3,500 to 4,000 works of art looted from the palace.

The successful protest movement by the Cambridge students to remove the Okukor statue was also met with praise by Nigerian Prince Edun Akenzua, who said "We commend the initiative of the Cambridge students. They have done what they should do... We appeal to European countries to return our cultural properties dotting museums and galleries in London, Paris, Berlin and other cities around the world."