On the 21st of February 2020, the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) in collaboration with the New Brighton Library empowered learners with an educational 103-year commemoration since SS Mendi sank. The remembrance took place at the New Brighton Library.
In honouring the fallen fearless soldiers, the commemoration highlighted the important history of the SS Mendi by targeting learners from schools in and around New Brighton. The remembrance included a visit to the Mendi memorial, followed by cultural items such as poetry, theatrical performance, and a documentary screening of the S.S Mendi tragedy produced by well know and well-traveled Bay creative, Zwai Mgijima.
MBDA Project Manager, Oyama Vanto said, “the story of the SS Mendi is not known by the young generation which is why it needs to be told. We have the responsibility of narrating our history and highlighting some of the stories about us that are inspiring against all odds.”
“We have a dedicated team that works with the New Brighton Library to avail an S.S Mendi exhibition with learning material, so that this information can be easily accessible to the public,” added Vanto.
NMBM MMC for Sport, Recreation, Arts & Culture, Lehlohonolo Mfana, said, “it is crucial to honour our forgotten heroes and their families. We want them to know that we will never let this important day pass without observing the selfless sacrifice from which the country benefited.”
The SS Mendi was a British passenger steamship that was built in 1905 and used to transport soldiers to the 1st World War. On the 21st of February in 1971, Mendi collided with a far larger ship SS Darro, Darro survived the collision but Mendi sank, killing 616 South Africans (607 of them black troops) and 30 crew. Some men were killed instantly in the collision whereas others were trapped below decks.
Other Stakeholders involved include the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, and Bayworld.