Cambridgeshire

Bronze cockerel at Cambridge University's Jesus College removed after campaign

Bronze cockerel Image copyright Alamy
Image caption Jesus College's bronze cockerel - similar to this one - has now been removed from display in its dining hall

A bronze cockerel has been removed from display at Cambridge University after students complained it had been looted in a "punitive" British raid on what is now Nigeria.

The Benin bronze, known as an "okukor", was bequeathed to Jesus College in 1930 by a former British Army officer.

Last month students voted for it to be returned to Nigeria.

The college said it had now removed the cockerel and was considering the "question of repatriation".

Almost 1,000 bronzes were taken after Benin City, in present-day Nigeria, was occupied by imperial troops in 1897, according to the British Museum.

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About 900 of those artefacts are housed in museums and collections around the world, including the British Museum.

Image copyright Robert Edwards/Geograph
Image caption The Benin bronze statue was prominently displayed in the college dining hall

Jesus College's bronze cockerel, donated by Captain George William Neville, whose son had been a student there, took pride of place in the college dining hall.

'Rhodes Must Fall'

However, in February the college student union proposed it should be returned to Nigeria.

The minutes of the meeting stated the bronze was stolen by British forces in a "punitive raid" in 1897 and the "time [was] right to repatriate the cockerel to the Royal Palace of Benin in line with existing protocol".

The move came shortly after students at Oxford University called for the removal of a statue of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Oriel College said the "overwhelming message" it had received was for the statue to stay

The 19th Century businessman and politician in southern Africa represented white supremacy, the "Rhodes Must Fall" group said.

Oriel College held a consultation and said the "overwhelming" response was that the statue should remain.

However, Jesus College appears to have bowed to pressure from its students and agreed to remove the Benin bronze cockerel while it considers what to do with it.

A Cambridge University spokesman said Jesus College recognised the "contribution made by students in raising the important but complex question of the rightful location of its Benin bronze"...

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