Cambridge University returns looted Benin Bronze artefact ‘Okukor’ to Nigeria

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A Cambridge University college and a Paris museum has handed back cultural artefacts looted from ancient Benin Kingdom during the colonial era back to Nigeria.

At a ceremony on Wednesday in the UK, the university handed over the artefact to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, in a move it earlier described as the “first institutional return of its kind.”

Jesus College is the first UK institution to hand back a Benin bronze, raising pressure on other establishments, including the British Museum, to follow suit.

Before the ceremony, Master of Jesus College, Sonita Alleyne had clarified that the move is the right thing to do out of respect for the unique heritage and history of the artefact

The Nigerian delegation was led by the head of the agency, Professor Abba Tijani, to receive the elaborately carved cockerel, known as “Okukor”.

“We’re excited, very happy to see that this artefact, which has been away from Nigeria for decades, is in good shape,” he said.

Tijani, who spoke during the ceremony to hand over the treasure, stated that it was the first time a UK institution would give back a Benin bronze.

He hailed the college’s act as “a great example for other institutions and other countries” and urged the British Museum to change its stance on the bronzes in its collection.

Noting that Nigeria has handed over a formal request for their repatriation, Tijani insisted that the sculptures “are going to the right place and they will be looked after”.

The bronze was taken from the kingdom of Benin in 1897 when Britain had a foothold on the African continent.

After being looted, the artefact was given to Jesus College in 1905 by the father of a student. The college, whose crest features a cockerel, announced in 2019 it would return it to Nigeria and it has finally done so.



Abisola Adebayo is a Reporter/Presenter/Social Media Manager for Tv360Nigeria. She is a first class graduate of the department of Mass Communication at Fountain University, Osogbo. Abisola is currently running her Masters Degree at the University of Lagos. The Social Media savvy young lady is ambitious and driven, likes trying new things and sets new goals for herself. Always looking for an opportunity to do better and achieve greatness.


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