SS Mendi: A story worth telling

CityPress - - Voices -

Sandile Ntuli Jo­han­nes­burg

What a plea­sure it was to lis­ten to Fred Khu­malo speak about his new book, Danc­ing the Death Drill (a work of his­tor­i­cal fic­tion that tells the story of the SS Mendi), at the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg on Fri­day. The SS Mendi was a ship that sank in the English Chan­nel on Fe­bru­ary 21 1917, claim­ing the lives of 607 black South African men.

The men who per­ished were to be labour­ers dur­ing World War 1 in aid of the mother coun­try, Great Bri­tain.

The story of the Mendi is an im­por­tant one that school chil­dren, in par­tic­u­lar, should know about.

It’s no­table that the depart­ment of ed­u­ca­tion has in­tro­duced new lit­er­a­ture ti­tles for home lan­guages and first ad­di­tional lan­guages this year. It should con­tinue to re­duce the works of au­thors from the West as we have many South African and African au­thors who tell our own sto­ries.

In­stead of pupils study­ing Wil­liam Shakespeare’s Ham­let and Othello, they should be learn­ing plays by John Kani and Mbon­geni Ngema, among oth­ers. Just say­ing.

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