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Welcoming Back the Benin Bronzes and Statues

On the bustling streets of Nigeria’s Benin City, residents cannot wait to get their Bronzes back – for them their return symbolises reparations for some of the wrongs committed by British troops during the colonial era. A statue of a cockerel is one priceless artefact soon to be welcomed home, after Jesus College handed it over to a delegation from Nigeria at a ceremony at Cambridge University on Wednesday. It is one of thousands of metal sculptures and ivory carvings made between the 15th and 19th Centuries and looted by British troops in 1897 from the West African kingdom of Benin, in modern day Nigeria’s Edo state. With more and more of the stolen artefacts expected back in Nigeria – on Thursday the University of Aberdeen in Scotland will also be returning one of its Bronzes. This will be at the Edo Museum of West African Art – a grand initiative by the governor of Edo state to house all the returned Benin Bronzes. The authorities say it will not be completed for at least five years – construction on the building, set to be designed by famous British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye, has yet to start.