Windhoek-born Annina van Neel is set to showcase a documentary shedding light on the practice of slavery in the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena.

The island is said to be the site of thousands of burial grounds belonging to formerly enslaved Africans.

The documentary, titled "A Story of Bones," through poignant storytelling, questions whether current public discourse and actions adequately address the memorialization of these people.

Van Neel and her team documented their findings, which are part of the most significant remaining physical traces of the transatlantic slave trade.

Saint Helena Island, located in the South Atlantic Ocean, stands as 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 there.

Van Neel worked as an environmental officer on the airport project. 

Her role was to mitigate the initiative's impact on animal species, flora, and fauna, as well as to preserve the building and cultural heritage of the island.

More than 300 bodies were exhumed from the area in 2008 and placed on display at a museum in Liverpool. 

To date, no memorial marks the site where they were reburied.

Van Neel, who plays the protagonist in the documentary, says the island's history is not an isolated case, and there are ample other examples of where the same occurred. 

There have been talks of African heritage for decades, though she says no one has gotten close to figuring it out.

The documentary 'A Story of Bones' thus aims to support and endorse this important discussion.

The Goethe-Institut will air the documentary on Tuesday at 6 p.m., followed by a discussion with Annina van Neel.



Selima Henock