Students at Cambridge University’s Jesus College have voted that a bronze cockerel known as “okukor” that was was looted from the Benin Empire in the 19th century be repatriated to Nigeria.

According to Cambridge News, the statue, also known as the Benin Bronze, was snatched from the palace at Oba in 1897 and has been at the college since 1930.

The student newspaper Varsity reported that a document, which outlines the reasons for the repatriation was tabled at the Jesus College Student Union.

Ethiopia’s 24-metre-tall Axum Obelisk Photo: commons.wikimedia

Ethiopia’s 24-metre-tall Axum Obelisk Photo: commons/wikimedia

The document reportedly stated that repatriating the cockerel known as “okukor” was “both intrinsically and instrumentally good”. The document noted that, “the contemporary political culture surrounding colonialism and social justice, combined with the university’s global agenda, offers a perfect opportunity for the college to benefit from this gesture”.

Calls for the repatriation come amidst a campaign by students at Oxford to have the statue of Cecil John Rhodes removed from Oriel College, citing Rhodes’ racist legacy.

It is commonplace knowledge that numerous artefacts of great cultural and economic value were looted from various African empires during colonial expeditions, and some are still kept in museums, learning institutions and private homes. To this day, human remains of Africans taken during colonial conquests are still kept in some museums.

In 2005, Ethiopia finally received one of its national religious relics, the Axum Obelisk after years of negotiation. The 1,700-year old, 24-metre-tall granite obelisk, was looted by Italy.

A German museum in 2003 repatriated a soapstone carved “Zimbabwe bird”, which was looted from the Great Zimbabwe ruins.

Source: Cambridge News