On February 21 1917, SS Mendi collided with a cargo ship amid thick fog in the English Channel south of the Isle of Wight and sank, killing 616 South Africans and 30 of the Mendi‘s crew.
The passengers were mainly made up of hundreds of black South African volunteers supporting the Allied forces fighting in France.
Dubbed the ‘Black Titanic’, the sinking of SS Mendi was one of the worst maritime disasters in the 20th century in Southampton waters.
This summer, South Africa’s award-winning Isango Ensemble perform an adaptation of Fred Khumalo’s historical novel at Nuffield Southampton Theatres. Find out more here.
Scroll down to hear more about the disaster from Mark Dornford-May, Director of Isango Ensemble.