Saturday, May 09, 2009

Murder! Not.


Was it really murder?

This was the screeching headline on the frontpage of the Asante Kotoko Express in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy at the Accra Sports Stadium. However, let's do a little soul-searching before we start beleiving this headline.

Ghana is no stranger to football tragedies. From our childhood days of playing soccer, any aficionado would have been witness to a brawl brought on by disagreements. But, it seems that when we grow up and start visiting stadia, we forget how riotous 'little' disagreements can become.

The 126 people who died at the Ohene Djan Stadium, then known as the Accra Sports Stadium were mostly men. Some, with kids. Others, breadwinners. Others, single and rasta.

Whose fault was May 9? 'Twas Ghana's fault...
These people knew that matches between Hearts and Kotoko were heated at best and fatal at worst. Yet, they died. Fine, some were innocent bystanders but you cannot help feeling that this should have been prevented. The police were agitated and thought firing tear gas was best thing. With the benefit of hindsight, they were wrong. In the aftermath several people have come up for stick. Some have been prosecuted. However, it will not bring the dead back. And, maddeningly, it would not change the mentality of football-goers. You don't believe, I see...

...or was May 9 plain myopia?

On February 8,this year, four fans died in another - yeah, you guessed it - Hearts versus Kotoko game. Do we learn? Well of course after the incident, an inquiry was done and the result was damning.

I do not want to reach the depth of cynicism. If not, I would have said that very soon, we would be reviewing the report of another 1000-paged Presidential enquiry. Don't look at me, it's the truth.

Whose fault was May 9? 'Twas Ghana's fault. Don't blame the police only. Don't blame the fans only. Don't blame the authorities only. Look within, the answer is there.