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  • Writer's pictureSue Adams

Only when I wrote this article did I understand what ‘going viral’ meant.

While researching a story a few years ago on the diamond mining town of Cullinan in South Africa, someone told me that they had re-discovered some hand painted murals in the Mine Hall covered over and long forgotten. Of course this is the kind of story I love – unknown, unusual and waiting to be brought to light.

It turned out that the paintings were done by Italian POWs during World War 2. 108 000 Italians were taken prisoner in North Africa around 1941 and brought to Zonderwater Prisoner Of War Camp in South Africa. The darling Zonderwater Museum curator, Emilio Coccia, sat me down and told me the poignant but uplifting stories of these amazing Italian soldiers. They became so much part of the fabric of South Africa that, if you are a South African, you probably know a few Italian South Africans descended from these men.

When the story was printed in SA Country Life Magazine, the response was unprecedented. Thousands of people reacted to it, many of them having stories to tell of their own.

Click the link to read about it. If you have any stories to share about the Italians at Zonderwater, please write to me.


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