Cambridge University Finally Takes Down Nigerian Artefact, ‘Okukor’, Stolen by Colonialists | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Latest News

Cambridge University Finally Takes Down Nigerian Artefact, ‘Okukor’, Stolen by Colonialists

Posted: Mar 10, 2016 at 10:55 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

A Cambridge University college has bowed to pressure from its students and removed a bronze cockerel from its main hall after protests that the looted sculpture celebrated a racist and colonial past.

Jesus College said that it would consider repatriating the cockerel, known as the “Okukor”, to Nigeria, reported UK-based Times newspaper wednesday.

Students had demanded in a vote that the bronze work be taken down and returned to the Benin royal palace in Nigeria.
The college said wednesday that the rightful location of the “Benin bronze” was a complex matter requiring further discussion. The move could revive the campaign to remove a statue of Cecil Rhodes, the 19th-century colonialist, from Oriel College, Oxford University. It could also embolden campaigners trying to repatriate other cultural artefacts, including the Elgin Marbles, which Greece wants to be returned from the British Museum.

The cockerel was bequeathed to Jesus College in 1930 by an army captain, George William Neville, whose son had attended the college. It has symbolic importance because the college coat of arms features three black cockerels with red combs and wattles.

Last month the college students’ union approved a motion supporting the repatriation of the “okukor”. The debate became so heated that at one point, a student snapped: “The opinion of two white men is not valid.” The debate was opened by Amatey Doku, a Ghanaian student, who said that the “okukor” was stolen on a punitive expedition in reprisal for the killing of British traders, in which the Kingdom of Benin was destroyed and 3,000 pieces of art were stolen. He proposed that the college commissions a new work and hold a repatriation ceremony at which it would be returned.