“Ukutshona kukaMendi”/ "Ukuzika kukaMendi": The Mendi Centenary Conference

28-30th March 2017

This conference, hosted by the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town, commemorates the sinking of the SS Mendi that occurred during the First World War, on 21 February 1917. It pays tribute to the South African Native Labour Contingent, and the men on the Mendi who died en route to fight for their dignity and human rights through service to the war effort.

The conference seeks to explore the struggle against oppression and dispossession, and particularly against the Natives Land Act of 1913, as a reason why these men left their homes in rural South Africa to contribute to the war effort. It also aims to examine the roles played by black intellectuals such as Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi, Solomon T. Plaatje, and John Dube in the recruitment of men to the South African Native Labour Contingent, and in dealing with the aftermath of the Mendi tragedy.

Download the Conference Programme

Conference Organisers:

Lungisile Ntsebeza: Centre for African Studies (CAS), University of Cape Town (UCT) – conference/ project director
Lucy Graham: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of the Western Cape – conference/ project manager
Nkululeko Mabandla: CAS, UCT – researcher
Paul Weinberg: CAS, UCT – curator
Zuziwe Msomi: CAS, UCT – co-curator
Xolela Mangcu: Sociology, UCT – researcher
Hugh Macmillan: Research Associate, Centre for African Studies, University of Oxford – historical researcher 

View the installation performance from the conference: