In memory of Ellis Park stampede victims
In memory of Ellis Park stampede victims

Posted in News on Apr 10, 2002.

The 43 soccer supporters who lost their lives on April 11 last year were honoured at a memorial service at Ellis Park Stadium on Thursday with the unveiling of a memorial plaque at Gate 4 with the names of all the victims.


By George Stanton, EPS GM

In true South African fashion, which is not necessarily a good thing, we investigated what the rest of the world had done in similar tragedies. We looked around at what others had done to commemorate those who lost their lives at sporting events.

In some cases we found that nothing had been done, in some, a ten year period was allowed to pass before doing anything.

And again, in true SA fashion, we disregarded what the rest of the world had done and turned inward – to Africa – the cradle of humankind.

We looked, not only at SA culture, but of the whole of Africa to try to find something that would best depict our diversity of cultures, that would best represent all those affected, families and individuals alike, who lost their lives or loved ones to this tragedy and to those of us who endeavoured to help and save lives and to give hope.

For us, it is of the utmost importance that ages be remembered, so that we do not forget their days, not that at what stage those lives were lost to loved ones.

To see and to remember

The two common threads within our cultures are that of beer brewing and beadwork.

To this effect we endeavoured to put together our united memorial tapestry.

The memorial depicts a tapestry characteristic of South African culture to commemorate those who died on April 11 2001.

Beer pots play a significant role in Southern African religious customs. Not only are they associated with hospitality and harmony but are also used in communion with one’s ancestors.

Beadwork (Insimbi) in Xhosa means metal, and in Zulu (Ubuhlalu), “that which makes me stay” – “loku kwenza ukuthi ngibe namandla” – had played an integral part in South African societies from the early 1800s and beyond, being used as gifts,messages and decoration.

The beadwork here (Ellis Park Stadium) was sewn by rural women, the mothers of our nation, each depicting her own interpretation and thoughts of the tragedy. Each individual pattern holds a story of how the events unfolded to conclusion.

The outer Ndebele section is in colours of the South African flag showing unity with the families who lost loved ones, with the houses symbolising the spiritual home of a Higher Being.

The black and red symbolise the blood of those lost and the triangular shapes, tears shed, whilst the yellow and green that of good luck and goodwill to those who are left behind.

The inner section is typically Nguni and in using light blue and white beads the message conveyed is that of the passing. The white symbolises purity and love and blue, tranquility and calmness.

The final words need no explanation, as the 11th April 2001 in our hearts and in our lives will never be forgotten.

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