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The Wreck of the SS Mendi
The ss Mendi: a ship history forgot
History records many ships as lost at sea, far from home. The exact circumstances of the sinking are often poorly known, the deaths of passengers and crew recorded a silent tragedies.
Few of those ships are famous in one continent and all but forgotten in another. The steam ship Mendi is one of them.
In the dark and fog of the night of Wednesday 21st February 1917, the ss Mendi was rammed by another ship. It was an accident. But with a deep gash in its side, the Mendi was doomed. She sank 25 minutes later and almost 650 men died.
The wreck lies off The Isle of Wight, in the English Channel. In Britain the story of the Mendi is almost unknown. In South Africa she is famous; a symbol of a racist past and an icon of unity and reconciliation.