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Cambridge’s Cecil falls

Daniel Kodsi
Daniel Kodsi
Hi, I am Chairman of OSPL, Cherwell's publishing house. I was editor during Michaelmas 2016. I read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Balliol College and can be reached at [email protected]

Cambridge’s Jesus College has confirmed that a statue known as Benin Bronze, which previously held a place of pride in the college’s dining hall, will be taken down following students’ protests that repatriatiation of the statue was the moral course of action.

Though the college’s decision has been met with criticism by academics and others, a spokeperson said, “Jesus College acknowledges the contribution made by students in raising the important but complex question of the rightful location of its Benin Bronze, in response to which it has permanently removed the Okukor from its Hall.

“The College commits to work actively with the wider University and to commit resources to new initiatives with Nigerian heritage and museum authorities to discuss and determine the best future for the Okukor, including the question of repatriation.

The College strongly endorses the inclusion of students from all relevant communities in such discussion.”

The move follows activist efforts by some students. In February, Jesus’s Student Union Committee proposed a motion which argued that repatriation would be “both intrinsically and instrumentally good”.

But the college’s reaction has also been seen negatively. Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, has said, “Students always look for things to protest about and at present universities seem to be making the mistake of taking these protests too seriously.

“We can’t be in the business of trying to re-write history. How a cockerel can make some students feel bad amazes me. It’s something that they are projecting on to it, not something that it signifies in itself.”

Jesus College’s removal of the statue coincides with Harvard Law School’s recent decision to change its crest to remove references to Isaac Royall, Jr., an especially vicious slaveowner and a march just yesterday by Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford.

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