A Story of Bones – DocUpdate

Annina Van Niel/VPRO

Everyone arrives Saint Helena know a story Napoleon Bonaparte. The French general and dictator (1769-1821) spent the last six years of his life on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, about two thousand kilometers west of Africa. His grave is still a tourist attraction. But what do the islanders and their visitors know about the slaves who were once dropped on their original land and who are still buried there? Are they perhaps descended from them themselves?

On the island, part of the United Kingdom, victims of the so-called ‘Middle lane“, the dangerous route by which more than three million slaves were brought from Africa to America in recent centuries. When the British themselves stopped the slave trade in 1807, they immediately began to stop ships from other powers. They were sent to St. Helena. It was over. About 30 thousand Africans in the British colony.

More than 500 survivors ended up in a depot in Robert Valley They lived there in appalling conditions. They said they were given the title of “liberated Africans,” but were never allowed to return home. Joseph Curran And Dominic Aubrey Devere In the quiet documentary Bones story (94 minutes). It is estimated that at least 9,000 bodies now lie in the valley, nearly twice the current population of the island.

If they were to build an airport on St. Helena, these cemeteries would become part of a political discussion. “Why did we build a side road through a cemetery?” Asks Annina Van Niel, a Namibian woman who emerged as an important voice in this debate and became the heroine of this documentary. “I hope the answer is not as simple as color. So these people are less important and have value.

See also  Raw and lively fiery film from Chile about Emma's vital center

However, according to local historian Phil Mercury, such an attitude is part of the legacy of colonialism. “If you’re white, you’re fine,” he says. If you’re brown, stay around. If you’re black, back off. Since 2008, archaeologists have recovered 325 bodies. They are still being held at the former Pipe Store Detention Center in Jamestown. “This is a prison, not a resting place,” one woman said forcefully at a community information meeting.

“This is much more than a pile of old bones,” says the enthusiastic local politician. Cruyff Buckley. Bodies should be buried again and treated with care like Napoleons, believe Van Neel and her supporters, who deal with tribal spirits in the United States. Similar initiatives are being taken there to come to terms with the history of slavery, watch for example a related movie like Descendant.

This is a tedious and fragile process, as has already been shown in the Netherlands, which is meticulously captured in this film. Annina van Niel has to take the necessary disappointments along the way. Disappointed at one point, she concluded, “Black Lives Matter.” ‘end of story.’ And then, the armed activist braced herself again. Because this project is bigger than themselves. Curran and Aubrey de Vere aptly highlight this in A Story Of Bones.

Sophie Baker

"Award-winning music trailblazer. Gamer. Lifelong alcohol enthusiast. Thinker. Passionate analyst."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *