A college at Cambridge University handed over a looted bronze artifact to Nigeria on Oct. 27.
The Jesus College Cambridge returned a statue of a cockerel known as “Okukur” during a ceremony to the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments.
British colonial forces stole the artifact in 1897 from the kingdom of Benin — now part of modern-day Nigeria.
The college removed the statue from public display in 2016 after students protested for its return, arguing that it was a symbol of Britain’s colonial history.
Commission Head Abba Isa Tijani said that the handover was the first of its kind by a UK institution.
“This return offers new hope for amicable resolution in cultural property ownership disputes,” Tijani said, according to ABC News.
“We hope that it will set a precedent for others around the world who are still doubtful of this new evolving approach whereby nations and institutions agree with source nations on return without rancor,” Tijani further said.
College Head Sonita Alleyne told AFP News that returning the artifact was a “moral imperative.”
“This is the right thing to do out of respect for the unique heritage and history of this artifact,” Alleyne said in an Oct. 15 statement announcing the handover ceremony.
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