The Titanic Expo has been on at the V & A Waterfront since the 22nd of November and will continue to enthrall and stimulate some tears, until March 6th 2016.

At the beginning of December, my husband and I arrived at the expo and after being greeted by a front staff member, we were handed our expo tickets. Cleverly designed as replica’s to the actual White Star Tickets each passenger held in their hand as they boarded the Titanic in 1912. At the expo, each ticket has a name of a passenger on it and the details of their voyage on Titanic. You have to wait until the end of the expo, to discover your “fate,” did you live or did you die?

We clutched the black speakers to our ears (available at an extra cost of R40 each) and went inside the darkened expo room. The symphony of the familiar Celine Dion tune calls out somewhere in the distance and you are immediately swept up in to the history of the White Star Line, and how the infamous Titanic idea was born. You meet the captain on a full size picture board, a man in his sixties, on the cusp of retirement. In the middle of the sections of information, stands glass cabinets of artefacts, pulled from the wreck of Titanic. One hundred and forty artefacts are on display throughout the expo and it is surreal to see them in front of you.

The first class information, the dining cards, and all the information about the third class cabins and passengers are on display. Some of the wealthiest people were on board the Titanic, people like John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, Isidor and Ida Straus, who co – owned the Macy’s Department store in America. Sadly, none of them survived the sinking but you don’t find this out until the end of the expo.

The expo winds up the stairs and we entered the next section. A deep thud shatters the airwaves and there is a sense of fear in the air. As you weave through the boards containing the ice warnings that the Captain received on the night of the sinking, you suddenly stand before an iceberg, bathed in shaded blue light. I placed my hand on the cold ice and could not withstand the cold for more than 20 seconds. This part of the expo is particularly scary, or so I found it and I hurried passed it to get to the survivors wing. There I stood for some time, reading about the survivors and their experiences. I also glanced again at my ticket and realised “I was one of only three South Africans on board the Titanic.” Elizabeth Brown, her husband Thomas William Solomon Brown and Edith their daughter, were on board the Titanic en-route to Seattle. They had hoped to make a fresh start for themselves after a successful career down in South Africa. Sadly, while my passenger Elizabeth Brown and her daughter Edith survived the fateful sinking, their husband and father, did not. I was however completely in awe of his pocket watch which was discovered on the ocean floor at the Titanic wreck site and the watch was finally reunited with his daughter in the eighties. This artefact was the most moving piece of the expo for me.

I noticed a number of parents bringing their children through the expo and I think it is a great idea to expose young children to such a tragic, yet gripping reality of what blind faith in new technology, often does to mankind. My only scruple was that parts of the expo felt incomplete. Some of the information is left out and it leaves holes in the narratives of the story. I also expected there to be a lot more artefacts, there was also no information about the movies made of the Titanic, although the popular 1997 rendition does play behind a curtain but totally out of sight. Parts of the expo do feel thrown together and could do with a little bit more thought, almost like a novel that lacks a little bit of editing. What the expo does manage to do however, is evoke an intense emotional connection with the tragedy of the Titanic and its survivors. It’s an emotion that stays with you long after you walk away from the expo, as you realise that these were real people with real stories whose lives were lost beneath the waves. I highly recommend the expo (Tickets available at R135) and thank the organisers for hosting us from SPICE!

About The Author

Lauren

Lauren is a passionate storyteller, who lives at the Southern tip of Africa, where two oceans meet and collide. As a qualified counsellor, she has worked with trauma victims and with abused women for over five years. Leaving the couch of therapy, she now embarks on the journey of full time writing, coupled with full time ministry. She writes about issues relating to women, gender equality, the very many injustices facing women and her latest novel (out in July 2016 by Lux Verbi) is a message for women of South Africa. It is her hope that women will discover how valuable they are and that there is a heroine in their story!

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