"...maybe you need to ask the old ones why they sat in the office, taking per diem, chopping the tax payers’ money and doing nothing about it..."
In a league game that saw home side Hearts of Oak winning 2-1 against their arch rivals Asante Kotoko, police fired tear gas into the stands to curb a crowd disturbance believed to have been started by aggrieved away fans. The toxic gas inevitably led to a rush to exit the stadium, provoking an ensuing stampede which proved fatal, claiming as many as 127 lives. It is on record to be the worst football related tragedy in African history.
Mensah, Kotoko chairman from 1999 to 2003, has been known to give consistent support to bereaved families while actively organizing events to commemorate the anniversaries of the tragedy.
"It's been 16 years, you calculate how many governments we’ve had come and go. Many - and we’re still standing," Mensah said, speaking to Pulse.com.gh.
"Ask the previous Ministers what they’ve done. You know they did nothing. So you don’t need to hear my voice to tell you they did nothing. When they tell you they did so much, check! Is that not right? That’s what makes sense. Go to the NSA (National Sports Authority). Speak to the people at the NSA. The new ones have only just been appointed, so maybe you need to ask the old ones why they sat in the office, taking per diem, chopping the tax payers’ money and doing nothing about it. My view of politicians? Everybody knows it already. That’s why I work with the people.
"We will do it (commemorating the event), and if politicians choose to join, they join. Don't forget, the first person to give his widow’s mite this year was NAPO (nickname of the Honourable Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Member of Parliament for Manyhia constituency and Minister of Education).
"Oh yeah, take your hat off for Mathew Prempeh. Fantastic man. It’s not the first time – over the last five years, whatever he can give, he gives. He does not seek publicity, but you see I put his name on the back of the shirts this year because of all the parliamentarians, he’s the one who stands out, who cares, who gives, who has even marched with us before."
Mensah, who is the current president of Ghana Rugby Association, insisted that he would continue advocating for the May 9 cause despite the chronic lack of support and occasional criticism.
"If I go and march for May 9 and nobody is with me, then I know what I’m doing is wrong. If I ask Otumfuor (Asantehene Osei Tutu II) to please give us time, and Otumfuor says no, then I know what I’m doing is wrong.
"If I go to corporate Ghana and I say, 'I’m doing this to help people who have nothing, are you prepared to join me and twenty other investors?' And they say we’re not prepared to help you, then I know what I’m doing is wrong.
"If the Hajias and people from Accra – and those from Sunyani, and from those the North – are not prepared to join us, then I know what I’m doing is wong.
"If they interview them (bereaved families) and they say Herbert Mensah is a bad man, he’s lying, he does not contribute, he’s using it for self-aggrandizement, then I know what I’m doing is wrong," he said.
He added: "For 16 years, I’ve been doing the right thing not for myself – but for you, for Ghana, for Africa. So that we respect our heroes. Who are our heroes? Former Presidents are not our heroes. The heroes are the people who died in the stadium. Our heroes are the ones who died because of the (June 3, 2015) floods. Our heroes are the ones who died because nobody cares. Those are our the heroes of Ghana. And the few people like us, believe in them, love them, respect them, and honour them."