SS Mendi disaster remembered during Armed Forces Day

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gam0-9b1w-c&w=500&h=400]Armed Forces Day took place on 21 February in Port Elizabeth.  The date isn't just one chosen out the air but rather was selected to commemorate the sinking of the SS Mendi.SS Mendi was a British 4,222 GRT passenger steamship that was built in 1905 . In 1916 during the First World War the UK Admiralty chartered her as a troopship.  On 21 February 1917, a large cargo steamship, Darro, collided with her in the English Channel south of the Isle of Wight.  Mendi sank killing 646 people, most of whom were black South African troops. The sinking was a major loss…

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Butcher at work

You get to see the most interesting and unusual sights when visiting the townships.  Well interesting and unusual sights for those of us who don't live in the township because for the inhabitants its everyday sights.  Like this sight of an informal butcher working from an roadside shack hacking open a cow skull with an axe.  I took this picture on a trip with an Argentinean journalist a little while ago and posted it on The Firefly Photo Files, but…

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The Red Locations Lodge ladies

The Red Location (Backpacker) Lodge in New Brighton has a special story to it.  I don't know all the details so I will give you the short version of it.  The building that the Lodge is situated in used to be a beer hall back in the days.  Beer halls led to many men drinking away all their money and getting violent towards women and children and was also the source of a lot of crime in the townships.  The…

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New Brighton Station

As the main railway station in the townships, the New Brighton Station saw a lot of action during the apartheid years.  Visiting the station today you can still see the railing that divided the bridge across the rail into "Europeans Only" and "Blacks Only" sections.   On 26 June 1952, the volunteers for the Defiance Campaign which was due to start the next day, camped at the New Brighton Civic Centre and proceeded in the wee hours of morning to the station…

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Taking township pictures

An international journalist taking pictures of the outside kitchen of a corner take away joint in New Brighton. Informal restaurants like this can be found all over Port Elizabeth's townships and this specific one is a popular sightseeing stop on township tours.

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Langa massacre photographic essay

The last in this short series on the Red Location Museum in New Brighton covers "You are my witness", a photo essay dedicated to the mothers, fathers, women, men and children of the Langa massacre, who sacrificed their lives for the liberation struggle of South Africa.  The massacre took place on 21 March 1985 in Langa township in Uitenhage when mourners, peacefully marching in solidarity to a funeral of those who lost their lives while protesting against grave oppressive conditions, were violently massacred…

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Hall of Columns

The Red Location Museum in New Brighton was the first museum to be purpose built in a township in South Africa and remembers the struggle era, especially in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage.  Although there is much room for improvement the museum has a number of very good exhibits.  As you enter through the main entrance the Hall of Columns is on your right.  Each of the 15 columns have a different struggle hero from the Nelson Mandela Bay area on…

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