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St. Eustatius first to show ‘A Story of Bones’ Documentary

ORANJESTAD- On Sunday, December 11, the St. Eustatius African Burial Ground Alliance will organize a screening of the documentary ‘A Story of Bones’ in the Lion’s Den for the community of St. Eustatius. It will be the first screening of the documentary within the Dutch territories.

The documentary ‘A Story of Bones’ tells the story about the remains of 325 so-called liberated Africans that were reburied in St. Helena Island in August this year. In 2008, the extremely isolated island decided to build its first commercial airport to encourage tourism. Environmental Officer Annina van Neel arrived from Namibia in 2012 to help with the construction and was present when the remains of thousands of “freed slaves” were uncovered. She became increasingly uncomfortable with how the bones were handled, and decided to take up the struggle to honor her ancestors’ legacy and integrate them into the history of the island. She later found an ally in renowned cultural project consultant Peggy King Jorde, who was involved in the 1990s in the realization of the African Burial Ground Memorial in New York City.

The similarities between St. Helena and St. Eustatius are striking. During the protests against the Golden Rock excavations near the island’s airport in 2021, the Alliance came into contact with Annina and Peggy. Both sides realized that what seemed a local struggle is in fact a global one. Together they are now raising awareness around the globe for the unseen and untold narratives of many African burial grounds in the Americas. Until it is fought on a global level it can’t be resolved locally, as is stated in the documentary. 

Marginalized

“Our history is marginalized. The directors of “A Story of Bones’, Joseph Curran and Dominic de Vere, have the mission to tell vital stories and listen to unheard perspectives, which is rare. We contacted every film and documentary platform in the Netherlands we could think of but there was no interest in showing “A Story of Bones’. Only with the support of the Unesco Netherlands Committee and director Dominic de Vere, we were able to bring ‘A Story of Bones’ to Statia”, says Alliance President Kenneth Cuvalay. Cuvelay concludes by saying that St. Eustatius will now have the premiere and that he hopes that there will be a full house on Sunday. He also points to the tagline of the documentary “It Matters How We Choose To Remember”.

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