The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, September 18, 2019


Bones of freed slaves 'haunt' St. Helena island
Basil Read construction firm Namibian-born environmental manager Annina Van Neel Hayes cares for flowers outside a warehouse where the remains of 325 former slaves are kept, on October 18, 2017 in Jamestown, in the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena. Nine years ago skeletons of 325 former slaves were discovered during the construction of St. Helena's first airport on the South Atlantic island. After it abolished slave trade in 1807, Britain intercepted Portuguese slave ships sailing off the waters of St. Helena - which lies on what was then a notorious slave route from Africa to the Americas. Between 1840 and 1865, around 25,000 slaves were freed and released on St. Helena, according to historians. GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP.

by Béatrice Debut


JAMESTOWN (AFP).- The only pointer of what lies inside the stone storehouse within the grounds of the prison is a printed note pasted to an old grey door.

"This is to mark the temporary resting place of 325 liberated African slaves brought to St. Helena against their will. They now wait in this room for their final resting place," it reads.

Candles and a bouquet of wilting white arum lilies sit in front of the wooden door on the remote British island of St. Helena in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean.

Nine years ago, the skeletons of the former slaves were discovered during the construction of the island's first airport.

Since then the remains have been kept in cardboard boxes in the prison storehouse.

Every Sunday, Annina Van Neel Hayes, 30, an environmentalist born in Namibia, pays homage to the forgotten dead by laying flowers in front of the padlocked door.

It was she and her friends who put up the epitaph.

"Still 10 years later, nothing is being done," she said, suggesting that proper reburial of the former slaves' remains "has never been a priority of St. Helena government".

After abolishing its slave trade in 1807, Britain intercepted mainly Portuguese slave ships sailing near St. Helena, which lay on the notorious slave-trading route from Africa to America and the Caribbean.

The island's leather-bound archives reveal horrendous details of events nearly 180 years ago.

One ship, intercepted on December 2, 1840, carried 245 slaves. Another, seized on January 17, 1841, was from Angola heading to Brazil with 308 slaves "in good health" and 108 "sick" slaves.

Unique history
Between 1840 and 1865, around 25,000 slaves were freed and released on St. Helena, according to historians.

Many died from dysentery and smallpox.

An estimated 8,000 are buried in Rupert's Valley in the north of the island, said archaeologist Andrew Pearson.

"Because you have the mid-Atlantic stopping point, it is unique and hugely important," he said. "Nowhere else could have this -- people straight off slave ships."

It is in Rupert's Valley that a road was built several years ago to bring in imported construction equipment for the island's first airport.

As bulldozers tore through the earth, they stumbled on human bones -- the remains of 325 people, most of them in mass graves, mainly children with an average age of 12.

"Rupert is littered with remains from that period," said airport manager Janet Lawrence. There were only two known graveyards and the rest were unmarked.

Previously other bones had been unearthed during the construction of a power station in the 1980s.

"My father told me stories about chains and slaves," recalls Alonzo Henry, 36.
"We used to get a lot of power cuts and people used to say it was because the power station had been built on the graves".

Island's dark past
His aunt Deborah Fowler, 53, remembers finding bones when they were looking for food for goats.

"As kids, we thought it was animal bones," she said.

From her window, she can see a low stone building that was once the slaves' hospital, and is now used for fish processing.

The remains have forced St. Helena's residents to confront the island's dark past and to wrestle with a dilemma of how to balance development with giving due respect to the burial sites.

"When we were growing up, we were told about Napoleon (who died in exile on the island), the Boers (war prisoners), but there was barely any information about the slaves," said jeweller Giselle Richards, 32.

In contrast to the slaves' fate, Napoleon was honoured with a tomb -- though his body was taken back to France -- while the Boer prisoners lie in neat plots in a hillside graveyard.

The decision to temporarily hold the remains of the liberated slaves in a storeroom at Jamestown jail has disconcerted some.

'Rediscovering our past'
Jeremy Harris, director of the local National Trust conservation group, admits he forced open a lock and broke in after being repeatedly denied permission to inspect the building.

He is now supporting a campaign for the bones to be moved and ceremonially reinterred.

"The symbolic fact that these people are kept in an extension of the prison is inappropriate," he said.

Island officials argue that the thick walls of the old prison keep the bones at a constant temperature.

And last month a group of local experts was commissioned to make recommendations within six months on the reburial of the remains.

For Alonzo Henry, who believes he may be a descendant of the slaves, the discovery of the bodies during the airport's construction was deeply ironic.

"With the airport, we are thinking about our future and yet we are rediscovering our past," he said.


© Agence France-Presse






Today's News

November 25, 2017

Newly attributed portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder goes on display at Windsor Castle

PIASA announces the sale of a remarkable painting by Eugène Delacroix

Oude Kerk opens a radical and site specific exhibition by Christian Boltanski

New giant predatory dinosaur species found in southern Africa

Bones of freed slaves 'haunt' St. Helena island

Ancient Chinese frescos, modern Chinese paintings, Chinese seals and Zisha teapots lead Gianguan Auctions sale

Nobel literature academy shaken by #MeToo sex scandal wave

K11 Art Foundation and MoMA PS1 co-present .com/.cn in Shanghai

Häusler Contemporary Zürich opens exhibition of paintings by Gary Kuehn

Exhibition at the Parkview Museum Singapore features works by 34 contemporary artists

Nicolas Party transforms Modern Art Oxford into a theatrical set inhabited by a cast of large female heads

Thousands of Spaniards urge ban on foundation exalting Franco

Important work by Mario Schifano to be featured in Ketter Kunst's December Auctions in Munich

Exhibition of collages and video works by Christoph Niemann on view at Galerie Max Hetzler

Amsterdam Art Weekend opens sixth edition

Interdisciplinary group VAVD Editions' 'The Aerial Kit' opens at Moderna Museet

Effort under way to save historic McDonald's "Store No. 1"

PEER exhibits a new site-specific installation by Catherine Story

teamLab creates a playful and immersive world to delight kids and adults

The IMMA Collection presents Porous Plane, a solo exhibition by Lennon

Tyburn Gallery opens a solo exhibition of works by Victor Ehikhamenor

Baghdad cafe marks 100 years as intellectual hub

Hong Kong lights up for Lumieres festival

Li Ming wins The HUGO BOSS ASIA ART Award 2017

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Holocaust 'masterpiece' causes uproar at Venice film festival

2.- To be unveiled at Sotheby's: One of the greatest collections of Orientalist paintings ever assembled

3.- Bender Gallery features paintings by up and coming Chicago artist Michael Hedges

4.- Lévy Gorvy exhibits new and historic works by French master in his centenary year

5.- Artificial Intelligence as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra performs symphony with twist

6.- Fascinating new exhibition explores enduring artistic bond between Scotland and Italy

7.- Exhibition explores the process of Japanese-style woodblock production

8.- Robert Frank, photographer of America's underbelly, dead at 94

9.- The truth behind the legend of patriot Paul Revere revealed in a new exhibition at New-York Historical Society

10.- Hitler bust found in cellar of French Senate



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful