May 9 victims remembered: Series of events were organized by Herbert Mensah to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the saddening incident which occurred in 2001.
Today marks the 16th anniversary of the May 9 disaster that claimed lives of 126 football supporters at the Accra sports stadium in 2001. Former Chief Executive Officer of Kumasi Asante Asante Kotoko, Herbert Mensah, has called on Ghanaians to exercise a sense of responsibility towards sports administrators, fans and the county’s youth.
Herbert Mensah was speaking with reference to the unforgettable disaster that shook Ghana football 16 years ago. He asked citizens to embrace the day in solidarity with the deceased; and with a call for responsibility, discipline and respect in all matters related to sports.
On May 9 2001, a rival league match between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko claimed lives of 126 surpporters following a disagreement over a refereeing decison. Fans had began throwing objects onto the football pitch to protest a supposed unfairness exhibted by referee J. Wilson Sey, following an equalization goal form Hearts.
The police’s response to the protest was to fire tear gas into the crowd. However, in a bid to exit the premises a stampede ensued, leaving 126 people dead and scores injured.
Generally tagged Black Wedneday, May 9 has been set aside as a day of commemorating the saddening incident.
Already, Hearts of Oak defender Abdul Fatawu Mohammed on Monday dedicated his team’s victory over league leaders WAFA in their week 14 league match, to the deceased. This was more or less his way of honouring the May 9 victims.
Remembering May 9 Victims
Since May 9, 2001, Mr. Herbert Mensah, Chairman of Kumasi Asante Kotoko at the time of the disaster makes it a point of duty very year to remember and celebrate the tragic day in so many ways. On May 9 of every year, a group of philanthropists under the leadership of Herbert Mensah, supported by various individuals and companies in Ghana, remember the day with a series of events.
The anniversary which is marked with series of programs in Accra and Kumasi started with a prayer session at the Kumasi Central Mosque on Friday May 5, 2017. This was followed by the usual Kumasi Street Walk on Saturday morning. Subsequently, a May 9 remembrance match between Aboabo Number One and Kantudu, took place later in the afternoon.
This year’s annivesary was themed “Embrace the day” -an idea deduced from the reality of the tragic day of May 9, 2001, when 126 young football fans did not plan to die that day. Bearing in mind the absolute uncertainties of life, Mr. Mensah pointed out that the message of May 9, is “both a call for responsibility and a call to make the most of every day that God has given you”.
Visit to the Manhyia Palace
Herbert Mensah and a section of the families of the May 9 victims were invited to the Manhyia Palace by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, as part of his birthday celebrations.
During the visit, Mr Mensah hailed the Asantehene for his guidance and direction on the day of the disaster, as well as in the general transformation of sports in Ghana. The former Country Director for Mnet recalled how the Asantehene spoke encouraging words to him on the day of the incident.
I remember that day, Otumfuo was the first person that I called and he told me to be courageous.
Visit to Kumasi Central Mosque
The May 9 anniversary series of events, also included a visit to the Central Mosque in Kumasi. There, the Ashanti Regional Chief Imam, Sheikh Abdul Mumin Haruun, led prayers asking for Allah’s protection on Mensah and all those who always remember the tragic day.