Jesus College accused of 'woke-washing'

Cambridge University’s Jesus College which accepted cash from a Beijing tech giant is accused of ‘woke-washing’ after returning a colonial statue to Nigeria

  • Jesus College returned ‘Benin bronze’ to Nigeria looted more than 100 years ago
  • The college has been accused of ‘woke-washing’ for returning the statue 
  • It also accepted £155,000 from Chinese tech company Huawei in 2018 

A Cambridge University college at the centre of rows over funding linked to the Chinese Communist Party has been accused of ‘woke-washing’ by returning a colonial statue to Nigeria.

Concerns have been raised about the links with Beijing after Jesus College accepted a £200,000 grant in 2018 from an agency linked to the ruling communist party for its Global Issues Dialogue Centre.

It also accepted £155,000 from Chinese technology company Huawei, sparking fears that Beijing was exerting undue influence.

Archivist Robert Athol (pictured) with a bronze statue of a cockerel called The Okukor, one of the Benin Bronzes, at Jesus College, University of Cambridge

Last month, in an apparent bid to ‘right wrongs’, the college returned an antique ‘Benin bronze’ to Nigeria that was looted more than 120 years ago by British forces. Last night a senior Government source accused officials of trying to ‘distract attention’ from its dealings with the Chinese.

The source said: ‘How convenient that they are making a big hoopla about returning the bronze at a time when their links to China are coming under the microscope. It’s woke-washing.’

Last night, a Jesus College spokesman said; ‘We returned the bronze to the people of Nigeria because it is the right thing to do.

‘The college announced its decision to repatriate the bronze in November 2019, three months before the first unjustified attack on our China-related academic work in February 2020.’

Master of Jesus College Sonita Alleyne (left) with Director General of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments Professor Abba Isa Tijani

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