Cambridge University to return Benin bronze to Nigeria at historic moment – .

Cambridge University to return Benin bronze to Nigeria at historic moment – .

Written by Par Hannah Ryan, CNN

The University of Cambridge must return a Nigerian artifact looted in a British raid on its home country, a historic first.

The Nigerian National Commission on Museums and Monuments will receive a bronze rooster from Benin from Jesus College, Cambridge later this month, what the university has called “the first institutional comeback of its kind.”

The Benin Bronze was donated to Jesus College by a student’s father in 1905, after it was first acquired during an 1897 expedition by British forces to the historic Kingdom of Benin – now part of of modern Nigeria – which resulted in the looting of thousands of bronzes from the region.

Following calls from the student body, the Benin bronze was removed from public display in 2016. Jesus College then established the Slavery Legacy Task Force. [LWSP] – composed of students and academics – to further explore the history of bronze, its connection to the slave trade and the morality of owning it.

In November 2019, the college announced that it would return the bronze to Nigeria after calling it “ancestral royal heritage” and declaring that it “belongs to the current Oba of the Court of Benin”.

The University of Cambridge said in a statement that delegates from the Nigerian National Commission on Museums and Monuments and Benin will visit Jesus College on October 27 for a “ceremony to complete the handover process and celebrate the legitimate return. bronze ”.

In a statement to CNN, Nigerian Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed said of the return:

“This gesture by Jesus College is a big step towards restoring the hundreds of priceless and timeless artifacts that were looted in Benin City in 1897.”

“I hope that this commendable action by Jesus College will encourage other institutions as well as people in possession of Nigerian artefacts to voluntarily return them,” said the minister. “We will not rest until all of our artifacts that were illegally taken away are returned to their homeland. “

The Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II said of the bronze return:

“We really hope that others will expedite the return of our works of art which in many cases are of religious importance to us. “

Sonita Alleyne, the teacher of Jesus College, called the decision a “historic moment” and said it was “the right thing to do out of respect for the unique heritage and history of this artefact”.

Alleyne thanked the LWSP “for its diligent and careful investigation into the provenance of the bronze” and to the “students who have appealed for it”.

Benin’s return of bronze to Nigeria comes as momentum continues to build for campaigns by museums, galleries and other institutions across the UK to return artifacts looted during the British colonial era to their homeland. ‘origin.

British imperialist monuments and looted artefacts have been the subject of a calculation over the past year – after calls to tear down statues to colonizers and to repatriate historic artefacts to their original homes have reached a summit during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.


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