Chairman of Kumasi Asante Kotoko, Herbert Mensah, at the time Ghana recorded her second biggest stadium disaster, has marked the tragedy with a series of events in Kumasi.
The Accra Sports Stadium disaster occurred at the then Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra on May 9, 2001. Some 127 people lost their lives, making it the worst stadium disaster to have ever taken place in Africa.
The unfortunate incident occurred during a match between Ghana's two most successful football teams, Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
Trouble had been anticipated and extra security measures had been taken. The home side scored two late goals to defeat Kotoko 2–1 which led to disappointed Kotoko fans throwing plastic seats and bottles onto the pitch.
The response to this crowd disturbance from the police was to fire tear gas into the crowd. Panic ensued and a resulting stampede led to the deaths from compressive asphyxia of 127 people.
Since that tragic day in 2001 a group of philanthropists under the leadership of Herbert Mensah, supported by various individuals and companies in Ghana, religiously remembered the day with a series of events.
This includes prayers at churches and at the central mosques in Accra and Ghana, a huge 'May 9th Remembered Street Walk' in Kumasi and a remembrance football match between teams from both the South and the North.
This year’s prayer session at the Central Mosque in Kumasi took place last Friday. The Ashanti Regional Chief Imam, Sheikh Abdul Mumin Haruun, prayed that Allah may bless Mensah and his associates with the compassionate work they have been doing for so many years.
“We realise that we live in a nation where we forget our heroes. We do not celebrate our past until it is often too late. As a result, we have made sure that every year we visit and provide material support for the families of the lost ones,” Mr Mensah said.
He also added that the message of May 9th Remembered is to also bring a positive message of responsibility to administrators, sports fans and the youth of Ghana in general.
The 2017 May 9th Remembered programme also included the customary May 9th Remembered Kumasi Street Walk and a May 9th Remembered Cup between Aboabo Number One and Kantudu on Saturday, May, 6.
This year’s celebrations also included a visit to Manhyia Palace on May, 6, a day that coincides with the Otumfuo's birthday celebrations.