Goethe screens A Story of Bones

The Goethe-Institut screens the documentary A Story of Bones which sheds light on the ongoing struggle for the proper memorialisation of the human remains of thousands of formerly enslaved Africans on the British Overseas Territory Saint Helena on 23 April.
Through poignant storytelling, it challenges whether current public discussions and actions adequately address this memorialisation.
Following the screening, a discussion with Annina van Neel, the protagonist in the film takes place. As Van Neel was born in Windhoek, she is “super excited to be bringing the film home” and continues her work in remembering and honouring her African heritage.
Saint Helena, almost 2 500 km from Windhoek and located in the South Atlantic Ocean, is one of the most remote major islands in the world. For centuries, access to the island was restricted to lengthy ship journeys from Cape Town. To enhance tourism and make the island more accessible, the UK Government decided to build an airport.
When Van Neel, Environmental Officer of the airport project, first set foot on the island she was taken aback. “We were all incredibly excited about being on this paradise island,” she says. After six days of seeing nothing but water, she couldn't believe she had come across this fascinating piece of land.
It was van Neel's responsibility as an Environmental Officer to mitigate the impact of the airport project on species, flora, and fauna, as well as to preserve the built and cultural heritage of the island.
Before work began on the project, 325 bodies of enslaved Africans were archaeologically excavated in 2008 to make way for the airport access road. While the possibility of encountering other human remains was discussed, Van Neel believed that "the probability would be very low".
Eight months later, she and her team disturbed the burial grounds holding approximately 9 000 formerly enslaved Africans. The team meticulously documented their findings, taking photographs and carefully placing the remains in boxes. The findings are part of the most significant remaining physical trace of the transatlantic slave trade.
However, creating a memorial presents its challenges. Initially, the possessions of the 325 people excavated in 2008 were displayed in a museum in Liverpool. Yet, to date, no memorial marks the site where these individuals were reburied.
"This is not an isolated case; it is happening everywhere. We have been talking about the restitution of African heritage for decades, and no one is close to figuring that out. But we're not having the conversation about it either," Van Neel said
A Story of Bones set to be screened at the Goethe-Institut Namibia as part of film programme Cinemaverse aims to support and endorse this important discussion. Entrance to the screening is free with complimentary popcorn.
A Story of Bones features Annina van Neel, Noah van Neel-Heyes, and Peggy King Jorde. The film is directed by Joseph Curran and Dominic Aubrey de Vere.
The screening starts at 18:00.