PE museum to remember 607 victims of SS Mendi

2017-02-18 08:45
SA Navy frigate SAS Amatola will commemorate the SS Mendi. (Supplied)

SA Navy frigate SAS Amatola will commemorate the SS Mendi. (Supplied)

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Port Elizabeth – An exhibition honouring the 607 black soldiers who died when the SS Mendi sank in 1917 will open at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum on Tuesday. 

“The ship has become a rallying point in post-apartheid South African to recover the lost history of black soldiers and the role these men played in World War One,” the museum said in a statement on Friday. 

The troop ship carrying South African soldiers to France, sank in the English Channel near the Isle of Wight, following a collision with a cargo steamship on February 21 1917. A total of 646 people died, most of them members of the South African Native Labour Corps.

The Mendi installation, called Remembering the SS Mendi, was produced by artist Hillary Graham over a five-year period from 1987. It was first exhibited at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 1993. It consists of over 200 sketches. 

“It reimagines the tragic event in vast series of tableaus depicting the brave men of 5th Battalion the South African Native Labour Corps who died in this nautical disaster,” the museum said. 

The exhibition will open on Tuesday at 17:30. Graham will conduct two walkabouts on Wednesday at 13:00 and at 17:30.

Read more on:    maritime  |  arts

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