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African Kinship Systems: Emotional Science – Case Study: The Fate of the SS Mendi

Sobers, Shawn; Mitchell, Rob


Shawn Sobers
Associate Professor - Cultural Interdisciplinary Practice

Rob Mitchell


This film commemorates the fate of the SS Mendi, transporting South African Labour Corps troops to join the WW1 war efforts on the front lines in France. On 21 February 1917, just twelve miles off the coast of the Isle of Wight from leaving Cape Town, the SS Mendi was accidentally hit by a meat container ship and sunk within 25 minutes. 646 lives were tragically lost, 607 of which were Black South African troops. This film explores this story from multiple angles, and raises ideas about forms of remembrance.

Part of the African Kinship series, which stylistically plays with the tensions in re-visiting historical events from the perspectives of cold facts and emotional responses.


Originally exhibited in the Royal West Academy, Bristol, for three weeks in August 2014, the film has been subsequently screened at numerous festivals and events, sometimes accompanied with a talk by me.

The work is being screened on a loop in a six month exhibition titled' We Die Like Brothers', commencing July 2015, at Delville Wood South African National Memorial, Somme, France.

Digital Artefact Type Video
Publication Date Aug 15, 2014
APA6 Citation Sobers, S., & Mitchell, R. (2014). African Kinship Systems: Emotional Science – Case Study: The Fate of the SS Mendi
Keywords SS Mendi, South Africa, World War One, WW1, Isle of Wight
Related Public URLs
Additional Information Additional Information : Part of the Inconsequential Monuments series. Duration: 23 mins