By Mohammed Amin Lamptey
I only realized the importance of the phrase “he who feels it knows it” by the legendary Bob Marley 19 years ago when the May 9 disaster knocked at our family door to announced the demise of my younger brother called Abass.
Memories of this very dark day in the history Ghana Football continue to hurt me and psychologically unsettled me especially 8th of May of every year.And yesterday Friday May 8,2020 was no an exception.
He was a staunch lover of horse racing and football was an alternative Sport for him just in case there’s no any major challenge cup at the Race Course.
It’s still unclear how you existed this world at Accra Sports Stadium and not at the Accra Race Course.As Muslims we understood the uncertainty and the unpredictability behind every death regarding location and time.Allah(God) is the knower of all things including when and where every soul shall kick the bucket.
Your death sparked controversy and heated arguments among family members from far and near as to whether I was not the one who was involved in that unforgettable disaster.
As a journalist,those who maintained that it was not my younger brother Abass who died at the Accra Stadium but Amin Lamptey couldn’t be faulted because of our backgrounds.
My late brother Abass was a commercial Driver and a member of Maamobi GPRTU of TUC at the time of his demise and I was also a young Journalist doing my internship at Radio Gold.
It’s still miraculous to me how I decided at the eleven hour not to go to the Stadium on this faithful day.
The mood I developed just after the match on the 9th May,2001 kept repeating itself every single ywar.I mean the trauma,agony and uncertainty.
After the announcement came through that some people died at the Stadium and most of them are from Nima,I quickly began to reflect on who these people could be.My younger brother Abass never flashed my mind because he’s not a die in the wool football fan.
My stressful mood was further inflamed with shivers down my spines when one or his friends who saw Abass my younger brother eclipsed in the stamped.
Abdul Razak is a friend of younger brother who is a commercial Driver with the Maamobi branch of GPRTU of TUC,said:
“I was with Abass and saw him being taken to the hospital,I hope he gets well”.At this stage my entire physical faculty got frozen.
Honestly,I can’t remember what happened after hearing the bad news.I believe at that time my subconsciousness took over my thinking,behaviour,
movement and all.
For almost about three days before we discovered the remains of my wonderful brother Abass,I suffered countless nightmares with a great hope that we shall discover him alive.It was a real battle of certainty and uncertainty.
It was really an highly emotional moment when I was told by my brother in-law that he went inside the morgue at the 37 Military Hospital and saw Abass among the numerous perished football fans lying on the floor like dead animals.
At this point my spirit of certainty kept me going with some remaining energy but instantaneously I was faced with the reality of May 9 disaster when sharply identified my brother Abass by what he was wearing.
At this point,I need to quickly rush back home to deliver the unpalatable information to my poor mom,siblings and the entire community people who have all converged at our house waiting to confirm or otherwise of my younger brother’s demise.
All I can remember at this point when I arrived at home was that I lost my stability with wobble legs backed by tears and just can remember how I got back to my physical,mental and psychological stability.
I was wondering how Abass could just leave us at the point that he was the one sponsoring my education.I mean he was the bread winner of the family because of his hardworking and kindness.He was just 24.
At the point of cleaning his remains for burial we only traced a small cut at the back of his head with no other bruises or major injuries.
I look at my motionless and speechless brother and said; “Abass you have done a lot for the family especially your elder brother.You are my hero and will live to celebrate you with all my heart and strength”
Unfortunately,I couldn’t witnessed how he was buried because of the arrangement to burry all the Muslims who perished and are from Accra at one area at the Awesome cemetery.
For the 19 years,any time I drive through the Awudome cemetery I pray for him and all our departed souls lying there .
Dr.Kwame Baa Nuako and the late Tony Owusu Amofa kept me alive with mental and psychological therapy both on air and off air .
Dr.Baa Nuako strategically hosted me live on Radio Gold with support coming from Tony and helped to massage my pain and fed me with relevant energy just to keep me going.
Tony Amofa assigned me the duty to represent Radio Gold at the Okudjeto commission seating.I was mandated to provide information to both the sports department and news room respectively. I believe that idea worked to perfection because as a young journalist at the time,appearing consistently on radio to give update on the commission’s work was not only fulfilling but a psychological warfare to my soul help heal the wounds in me as it were .
Let me seize the opportunity to thank and salute Dr.Baa Nuako and the late Toni Amofa for their supports and all.
Amazingly, I have never been invited to any meeting concerning the May 9 disaster for the past 19 years and I don’t expect anyone to invite me now.
Mr Herbert Mensah and his team made up of some friends from Nima, never accorded my family any respect to keep us a part of what is going on regarding the May 9 disaster.I wonder !!!
It is very difficult typing this piece because I have cried through out simple because we have lost a monumental asset as a family.He was a great brother,partner and at a point sponsor of my education.
Let me frankly say that I am really disappointed in Ghana for not implementing some of the critical recommendations of the commission’s report.
It’s illogical to have allowed people to go unpunished.
Until people are seriously punished for their wrong deeds and the element of selfishness and individualism is discourage in our football matters,we shall never see the end of fans indiscipline and vandalism at our stadia.
Sports Journalists in our dear country Ghana must rewrite their scripts on professionalism and apply all the required professional ethics in their works.
We (Journalists)must desist from labelling commentaries and analysis on critical issues underpinning the survival of this sport we all love so much and called it football.
Officiating officials of our games must first of all fear God as the step in going into football matches.Your selfishness can only cause lost of lives,destructions of facilities,damage the integrity of your profession and eventually kill the brand and marketability of our football.As a referee what legacy do you intend to leave behind? I put it you Mr.Referee!!!
The fans must be smart enough to understand that football is a game.The principles of win,draw and loss must be injected in their thoughts when it comes to football.
Attaching gambling to football shall continue to influence all stakeholders including organizers(GFA) of our competitions,coaches,
players,backroom staff,supporters and what have you.We all must review our understanding of the game.There is too much vindictiveness and individualism in our football makeups.
The element of spirituality can’t never be underestimated as one of the major causes of the May 9 disaster.
I need time to tackle that as a topic.NO honest person in football can pretend about it when it comes to what characterised our football spiritually.
We need professionals with vision and transformational thinking people to handle our football.Lets avoid putting round perks in square holes.
I can say with certainty that NO lessons have been learnt from May 9 disaster at all.
Until irresponsible people are penalized to serve as deterrent, we must stop talking about May 9 and whether there are lessons learnt.
We must all take responsibility of our actions and inactions if only we will continue clamouring for a change in behavior and attitude in our football matters
“The price of greatness is responsibility.” ~ Winston Churchill.
Reproduced after due permission from the author.