May 9th Remembered

May-9th-RememberedFriday 9th of May 2014 marked the 13th anniversary of one of the world’s worst tragic stadium disasters in history where 126 young football supporters lost their lives needlessly during a football match between Accra Hearts of Oak (Hearts of Oak) and Kumasi Asante Kotoko (Kotoko) at the Accra Sports Stadium.

Since 2001 Mr. Herbert Mensah, the then Chairman of Kotoko, has made it a point to walk that extra mile to arrange special activities to remember that tragic event, and 2014 is no exception.

The programme for 2014 included various media encounters with radio stations in Kumasi as well as with TV broadcasters.

On May 9 a march through Kumasi followed by two celebrity football matches at Wesley College. After these events a visit was made to the Central Mosque in Kumasi.

During the visit to the Central Mosque the Regional Chief Imam thanked Mr. Mensah for reminding them every year of this important event and agreed that it was indeed an event that should never be forgotten. He also delivered prayers

In the evening a “street party” was held to remember May 9th 2001 and to look forward in hope.

On Sunday the activities were concluded with a service at the Action Chapel Church in Kumasi.

On Thursday the remembrance ended with a gathering outside the offices of Sikka FM in Kumasi by football supporters, officials and relatives of some of the deceased who wanted to meet Mr. Mensah to show their appreciation for his consistent and persistent remembrance efforts year after year.

Mr. Mensah has, on numerous occasions, been asked why he sacrifices time and resources every year to remember May 9th. In his response he said, “We must always remember that the May 9th Celebrations are not just to remember the needless and senseless lives of so many young Ghanaians that were lost. It is also to remember that the root cause of this tragic event was due to irresponsibility and to call on all individuals and those who are in positions of greater responsibility to think twice before they make a choice on how to act or react.”

Elaborating on this Mr. Mensah said that after all was done and dusted on that dark day of May 9th 2001 we all have to accept that a series of irresponsible actions led to much pain and suffering.

Mr. Mensah also said that the deaths were preceded by irresponsible stadium and sports management personnel who left emergency exits locked and unmanned (to mention but one aspect). He further said that in addition, irresponsible match officiating caused irresponsible hooliganism by a few supporters which caused irresponsible action by the police that resulted in the stampede ending in the needless ripping apart of families and dear ones.

According to Mr. Mensah the message of the 2014 May 9th Remembrance Programme is to once again draw Ghana and indeed the World’s attention to the need for individuals and especially state apparatus to act responsibly in order to not only prevent such disasters, but to indeed create a much better life for all.

“The youth is the future and we need to coach and mentor them. To let them understand that responsibility is nothing more than making choices and bearing the consequences of those choices. Only then can we create great leaders that will take Ghana to places that we can only dream of. For May 9th 2014 the message is that we must never forget the despair of 9 May 2001, but we must work hard to instil responsibility in our youth.

That is the message of “From Despair to Hope”, Mr. Mensah said.

See more on Remembering May 9 here.

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