prinsbinky Oluremi Zainab ūüá¨ūüá≠

(This story is based on a true-life event. A recap of one of ūüá¨ūüá≠ Ghana's tragic moments. The Accra Stadium tragedy-2001. My condolences go to all involved. May the souls of the victims rest in peace, amen.) Michael was a survivor of one of life's hateful disasters, a gruesome tragic incident that left him orphaned with no family to call his own. He had returned home after working abroad for so long to reconnect with his loved ones, and he thought experiencing together the passion they shared in football was the best way. So he bought tickets for his four siblings and best friend to the top match of the season. He had no idea he was digging their graves, or that his innocent gesture and yearning to bring happiness to their faces would lead to a deadly destination. He had no idea of the doom he had purchased with his money. No idea that day was gonna change his whole life forever and burn his heart with tears. NB: copyright ¬©ÔłŹ by O. J ZAINAB. All rights reserved.


#4 en Historias de vida Todo p√ļblico. © Copyright ¬©ÔłŹ 2024 by O. J ZAINAB. All rights reserved.

#thememoirsofasurvivor #loss #memorial #strenghtinunity #pain #deaths
Cuento corto
6
4.9mil VISITAS
Completado
tiempo de lectura
AA Compartir

The Accra Stadium Tragedy


This is a timeless story of one of life's most gruesome disasters. A story that depicts the fact that Ghana, a small country in West Africa had its fair share of horrific disasters and wasn't immune to life's most unpredictable tragedies. It's a story of a survivor. A story that changed the lives of hundreds and threw the country of Ghana into mourning. It is a story of loss and fighting through one of Fate's ruthless storms to find strength and unity in each other's pain.

Intro:

The Accra Sports Stadium disaster occurred at the Ohene Djan Stadium, Accra, Ghana on May 9th, 2001. It took the lives of 126 people, making it the worst stadium disaster to have ever taken place in Africa. This heartbreaking incident is also the deadliest disaster in the history of association football behind the Estadio Nacional disaster and Kanjuruhan stadium disaster. This incident was caused by the reckless shooting of plastic bullets and tear gas into the crowd, which threw the excited crowd into panic resulting in a stampede and crash that led to the deaths of 126 young invigorated lives, mostly males.

The Event:

Michael was glad to be back home from abroad after so many years away, and he was just in time for his favorite team match. After catching up with his loved ones he decided to surprise his younger siblings and best friend Ahmed with tickets to one of the famous matches taking place in the country. Football had always been a passion that united and strengthened their brotherhood bond, so what better way to surprise them than a first-class ticket to their favorite team match? Anyway, on that faithful day, two of Ghana's top-notch football teams (Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak) were playing and there's no way they were missing it. He was rich now and wanted to gift his siblings with a front-seat experience of the match, hence his surprise gift. However, on entering the stadium, the architect him noticed the discrepancies in the design of the stadium but thought nothing of it. He also noticed the officials seemed to be so alert as if expecting some crowd disturbances and had taken extra security measures which left a trail of foreboding he tried to ignore. He was there to have fun with his siblings and friend and he wouldn't allow his premature and baseless suspicion to ruin the experience.

Everything was running smoothly, their team was winning and his siblings were screaming their heads off embracing the full spirit of the game until it was no longer fun and all hell broke loose literally. One minute he was taking pleasure in the happiness of his siblings and friend and the next the opposing sides were throwing plastic chairs and bottles onto the pitch when the referee called in the win with their favorite team 'Accra Hearts of Oaks' taking the lead with 2 and 'Asante Kotoko' with 1.

The police officials anticipating disturbances and with a burning need to control the crowd acted recklessly and shot plastic bullets and tear gas into the crowd throwing them into a raging panic that skyrocketed into a stampede with fans in a frenzy to escape. He found himself trying to protect his siblings and prevent them from getting separated from him. He was trying to protect them from the danger that ensued but his efforts were in vain as he was shoved so hard and thrust into a fog of teary smoke that burned but couldn't compete with the fog of confusion clouding his mind. He found himself screaming, fighting to find his balance because he knew, he just knew if he lost his balance he would become a floor mat for the hundreds of running feet trying to flee to safety.

Amid the chaos, his every attempt to get back to his siblings was thwarted by a sea of strange bodies pulling him backward and he knew surviving this would mean putting his fear aside and using the man upstairs (brains) to find his way out of this dangerous fix. As seconds turned to minutes and minutes to hours any hope of finding his younger siblings and friend dwindled and finally faded into oblivion. Tears filled his eyes and his heart caught on fire as he prayed like he never did before for the safety of his loved ones.

His calculated frantic search led him to gates that were closed and the discrepancies he noticed earlier‚Äď the compromised nature of the stadium's design left a bottleneck formation with fewer exits than originally planned which had frightened fans clamoring on top of each other to get out. He saw people losing their footing and being trampled upon as if they were nothing more than a mere foot mat. These victims were swallowed up by a crowd of faceless people who forgot they were friends and families and were propelled by self-preservation laced with a sense of survival, and his burning heart prayed his siblings and friend didn't end up like that. The sight was ghastly and had his heart burning with immense fear and a will to live because he still had a lot to do. He refused to die a useless death in such a hideous manner. This burning need for survival made him draw back from the crowd of anxious people to find a lone corner to hide and wait. In that moment the stadium that once brought joy became a death trap that ensnared the lives of 116 people on the spot.

Michael didn't know how long he waited but it was the longest wait of his young life and his heart was a raging fiery mess bleeding with unshed tears. When help finally arrived the damage had been done and lives lost. He recounted his experience to the media present, giving his side of the story through tears and begging for help. He begged them to find his siblings and best friend who were lost in the chaos. They tried placating him but he wasn't having any of it. His heart was too burdened with tears laced with fear for the safety of his loved ones.

It was later found that 116 deaths resulted from compressive asphyxia and 10 fans died from trauma. His burning heart took a severe blow when his siblings' limp bodies were laid before him rocking his world and throwing his life into darkness, his soul into pure hell. A soul-wrenching sound of shock escaped his mouth as painful tears poured from his eyes. Nothing could describe what he felt then and thoughts of his friend were farthest from his mind. His mother died on the spot from the unbearable news that knocked her heart out, tightening the depressive suffocating rope around his neck. The country was thrown into mourning, mothers cried a pool of tears, sisters, and brothers were thrust into a stupor of sorrow as they tried to cope with the horrific news of their losses and the women mourned the deaths of young virile men who could have been eligible husbands for ladies looking to settle down. In the sea of his pain, he understood their plights, and he had never felt so helpless before. So beaten up and dead within. His nation was blanketed by darkness, the kind that's intangible but breathes as it tears at one's soul.

He later found out how his friend narrowly escaped being buried alive. Ahmed had been unconscious from the tear gas and was presumed dead, only to jolt into consciousness when someone stepped on his foot in the graveyard. He was thankful Ahmed made it but didn't know how to pick up the pieces or live with himself when he had lost all his family members. He wanted to die but couldn't because he was the only one left standing and it was his duty to continue the lineage. The responsibility stung like hell and his burning heart wanted to blame someone but couldn't settle on one culprit. There are just too many things that went wrong; from the compromised architectural stadium that made it a death trap to the absence of medical standby teams who could have lent first aid treatments to victims to the recklessness of the officials who thought throwing tear gas into an excited crowd was a fine idea, and poor management of the stadium staffs who locked up some gates that could have prevented the bottleneck formation that ensued and helped more people to escape. He just didn't know who or what to focus on. So he was left with a burning heart that bled with tears. He wasn't surprised when in an interview with BBC News the then deputy minister of youth and sports, Joe Aggrey described the event as a devastating one that left piles of bodies on the floor of the stadium.


The Aftermath:

Micheal became obsessed with the news coverage of the incident, some might think him a sucker for pain by watching the incident on the TV over and over again. But that wasn't the case, his burning heart was trying to find solace amid the chaos. He was trying to find a satisfactory reason for the deadly occurrence that left him orphaned and alone, branding his life with loneliness. He needed closure, though he wasn't holding his breath because how can one get over his kind of ordeal? How?

So an official inquiry blamed the police for overreacting with reckless behavior and indiscriminate shooting of plastic bullets and tear gas which was old news to him. He had witnessed it firsthand, but what came as a surprise was some officers were accused of dishonesty and laxity, and six officers were charged with 126 counts of manslaughter. But the court ruled that the persecution had failed to make a case and that the asphyxia may have been caused by the stampede and not the tear gas. He found his heart burning more in rage and the fact his lost family wouldn't find the justice they deserved because of the incompetence of the persecution team.

He found a bit of solace when the commission of inquiry recommended improvements to stadium security, and first aid facilities and that nationwide rapid response teams should be set up. He took solace in the fact others wouldn't be left defenseless and would be protected if ever a similar incident occurred. And the renovation of the Accra sports stadium in 2007 according to FIFA's standards helped to prevent a repetition.


The Memorial:

Following the sad event, Michael appreciated the president of Ghana, Hr. John Agyekum called for three days of mourning. And he wasn't the only one trying to do something memorable for the lost souls, the Ghana Premier Football League suspended play for a month. Also, since the incident, corporations and philanthropists, including Herbert Mensah, who was Asante Kotoko's chairman from 1999-2003, have memorialized the tragedy with the stadium disaster fund and a series of events in Kumasi.

The events included paying respects to families of victims and their 148 children, their invitations to Otumfuo's birthday at the Manhyia palace which he didn't take part in as he wasn't exactly in the mood to celebrate, prayers in the local central mosque, donations to the needy, the laying of the memorial wreath and the memorial match called 'the May 9th remembered street walk'.

The country Ghana in a show of unity went a step further and in 2016, an annual memorial 'May 9th Cup' football competition was created. In 2017, the memorial events were themed 'Embrace the Day'.

With time, Michael's burning heart learned to dim into a flicker that was bearable. His loneliness and pain that once blazed hot dulled with time, and the bronze statue erected in front of the stadium of a fan carrying another fan to safety with the inscription title 'I'm my brother's keeper' in honor of the victims of the tragedy filled him with the sense of not being alone, a sense of togetherness that could only be found in his fellow Ghanaian brothers and sisters. He finally found the strength to let go of the tears in his heart, the pain that was a constant reminder of his loss, and the blame that hung like a sword over his head; a burden he carried on his shoulder. He finally learned to move on and live, embracing the second chance the heavens granted him. He learned to appreciate life more and to live to the fullest.

Fans who now attend matches at the stadium chant 'Never again! Never again!' to remind themselves of the tragic day of loss.

They were bonded by loss and found unity and strength in each other.

THE END


12 de Febrero de 2024 a las 21:45 2 Reporte Insertar Seguir historia
4
Fin

Conoce al autor

Oluremi Zainab ūüá¨ūüá≠ O.J. Zainab, a young lady from Ghana who is always fascinated by the dreamy world of novels, and would love to give back to the world some joy she got from reading. She gets her inspiration from God, the love & support of family and friends. Shout out to the design owners used for my books.

Comenta algo

Publica!
Dila Atman Dila Atman
Hi! we can support each other. I followed u too. Give me 55 vote nd i will give u 55 vote -vote; i mean every episode have an vote, heart, like whatever u say, i say that-
February 18, 2024, 20:31
mA maria Abubakar
A great piece of a sad tragic event. Well written.
February 13, 2024, 00:42
~