An exhibition commemorating the deaths of 607 black South Africans who died when the SS Mendi sank in the English Channel 100 years ago opens at the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Art Museum today.
The exhibition marks the ship’s sinking a century ago today, in the early hours of February 21 1917.
Art Museum acting director Emma O’Brien said it was important to honour the lives lost on that fateful day.
“Remembering the tragic loss of life when the SS Mendi sank has become a rallying point in post-apartheid South Africa to recover the lost history of black soldiers and the role these men played in World War 1,” she said.
The exhibition, titled “Remembering the SS Mendi”, will consist of more than 200 artworks by artist Hillary Graham.
A series of public events has been planned, including walkabouts tomorrow at 1pm and 5.30pm with Graham.
The exhibition will be open today from 5.30pm.
Meanwhile, a four-part documentary is airing on eNCA.
It follows New Brighton theatre practitioner Zwai Mgijima, 43, who set out on a voyage to the English Channel in the hopes of finding the remains of the war recruits who died.
“It was necessary to embark on this journey because I wanted to see where our past was hidden away and also to seek peace with what happened.
“Our forefathers are lying in a foreign land and in an attempt to ease the past, I wanted to go to the English Channel to fetch their souls and bring them back to their final resting place in South Africa,” Mgijima said.
The documentary ends tomorrow after first airing on Sunday.