The prestigious British educational institute, Cambridge University has released a statement saying it plans to return a bronze state in its possession to the Bini Kingdom in Nigeria.
According to the statement released by the university, the priceless artefact – ‘a bronze statue of a cockerel’ was among the numerous items looted from the palace of the Bini Kingdom by British colonial masters in 1897. Some years after the items were stolen, the British government donated the bronze cockerel statue to Cambridge University.
However, the renowned educational citadel has said it was time to rewrite the wrong.
Cambridge University has said that they will return the bronze statue to its original owners.
The Bini Kingdom is one of the oldest ancient African kingdoms in Africa. It is still in existence today and located in modern-day Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. The kingdom is known to be one of the oldest kingdoms that continue to practice a monarchy system of government till this day.
Reports claim that the statue was removed from public view in 2016 after students protested, saying it represented a colonial narrative. Critics further argued that an institution with the calibre and history of Cambridge University should not associate itself with such history.
After considerations, three years on, the university has decided to take an honourable step and return the artefact to Africa.
Governments and institutions in the West are under growing pressure to return artifacts taken decades or centuries ago, especially from Africa. Some have begun assessing their collections and discussing the next steps to take.
Last year a report commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron recommended that French museums give back works taken without consent if African countries request them.
The experts who presented the report estimated that up to 90% of African art is outside the continent, including statues, thrones and manuscripts. Thousands of works are held by just one museum, the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, opened in 2006 to showcase non-European art — much of it from former French colonies.
Since the French report, Congo, Senegal and Ivory Coast have requested the return of artifacts.
Earlier this month, France restored to Senegal a sword that had belonged to 19th-century Islamic scholar Omar Saidou Tall, who led an anti-colonial struggle against the French.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe visited Senegal to hand the sword to President Macky Sall.
Last week The Open Society Foundations, an international grant-making organization founded by billionaire George Soros, announced a four-year, $15 million initiative to help repatriate cultural objects to African nations.
Header Image Credit: AP