Remembering black troops who died 100 years ago

Today the world commemorates all the South Africans, mainly black troops, who for many years have gone unrecognized for their participation in the 1st World War.

The late veteran legionnaire Frank Sexwale devoted much of his life to remembering the lives of those who died on the SS Mendi steamship.

Son, Mathabatha Sexwale, recalls how his father's determination led to the erection of a SS Mendi memorial stone at the Avalon Cemetery in Soweto in 1995.

Black people were not remembered at all. But it was the resilience of this old man that kept the flame burning.

Mathabatha Sexwale

Listen to the full conversation from The Midday Report with Stephen Grootes:

Major-General Roy Andersen, chief defense of reserves at the SANDF, said the Minister and President Jacob Zuma decided that one big role of honour, a wall of remembrance, will be erected.

This is in honour of the Delville Wood troops and those on the SS Mendi, who drowned.

The soldiers couldn't swim and those who could swim... the water was too cold and they drowned.

Major-Gen Anderson

I often wonder at the futility of it all. The logic is mind boggling.

Major-Gen Anderson

Major-Gen Anderson spoke to John Robbie from France.

Click here to read President Jacob Zuma's full commemoration speech on the Battle of Delville Wood.


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