900 House

Interior design ideas, plans, reviews, tips, tricks and much much more...

‘ If you complain they see you as evil ‘: Accra’s religious interference question

One-man churches armed with loudspeakers proliferate in Ghanas fast-growing capital. But as the city gets noisier, inhabitants are fighting back

” If you flout the laws of God, the serpent will bite you. Satan will down you ,” calls Apostle Michael Sarfo at a major superhighway intersection in Ghana’s capital, Accra. He proclaims for five hours every weekday morning, with a load of speakers amplifying his evangelism. Passersby stop to receive devotions and approvals, some tossing their money presents from moving cars.

In Accra, you are never far from religious speeches. According to one estimate, there are approximately 10 faiths per sq km, and open-air preaching, whether on modes of public transport, in bus terminals or at superhighway intersections, is commonplace.

The population of Greater Accra was about 4 million in 2010, but the city’s rapid growth means that number is expected to reach nearly 10 million by 2037. And as the population increases and the city gets noisier, tenants are becoming more willing to fight back- ensuing in a rise in noise complaints.

Sarfo has been preaching at this intersection with his speaker system for the past four years. He says he used to be a lot louder but lowered his tiers after people grumbled. He belief those who complain about the racket are not true Christians.

Apostle
Apostle Michael Sarfo, who establishes up at a busy intersection every weekday morning with other pastors and their loudspeakers to spread the gospel. Photograph: Stacey Knott

” Not everyone will like what we are doing here- not all know Christ ,” he says.” That is why we are here .”

While he considers his roadside preaching a church, he says he eventually wants to take it indoors into his own space.

According to the city’s Environmental Protection Agency( EPA ), about 70% of noise objections are about churches. Experts and residents across Accra point to what are known locally as” one-man faiths”- small, independent evangelical faiths with no organizational structures- as the biggest delinquents. They spring up in backyards, unfinished constructs, under trees and on porches. And despite their tiny gatherings, they often use loudspeakers and musical instruments during worship.

Noise annoys

For Gifty Gbana, zonal head of the environmental health and sanitation unit at La Nkwantanang Madina Municipal Assembly, dealing with noise complaints is taking over her daily work in her small, concrete agency in the outskirts of Accra.

” Every single daytime somebody is complaining about noise ,” says Gbana. By her figuring, about 65% of her hour is invested dealing with noise grievances. Most routinely the complaints are about a church.

Although Gbana’s department attempts to intervene or mediate where possible, cases often end up in courtroom. One such client involves a religion that had apparently been set up inside a family home in a new development on the city’s outskirts.

The pastor says his church was simply a companionship of his family members and firebrands neighbours’ complaints as “unjustifiable” and an infringement of his right to practise his belief. Lambert Kwara, prosecutor for the local assembly, says there has been an increase in noise complaint occasions over the past six years. On the day he indicates this particular complaint, he has two others to prosecute.

Gbana is often on the frontline in these cases. She says things can quickly turn ugly when she serves notices.

Members
Members of the Tesano Baptist church at a Sunday service. The church invests in new paraphernalium and adapted its interior design to reduce noise levels. Photograph: Stacey Knott

” Some of the pastors will not take it kindly, some will revile ,” Gbana says. Branding complainants “witches” or “wizards” is a common tactic. In add-on, “its not” extraordinary for Gbana to face pressure to dismiss events from well-connected people in the community.

But Gbana is resolute that peace( and quiet) must prevail- although she acknowledges that arrangements need to be streamlined and agencies need to work with each other better to be truly effective.

One yearly respite from the interference comes during the month-long ban on noise-making imposed by leaders in the lead-up to the Homowo harvest festival, when it is common for neighbourhood magnitude vigilantes to hijack loudspeakers of recalcitrant noise-makers.

But aside from this annual break, the state of interference in Accra is a public health concern, affecting issues arraying from increased stress heights to hearing loss, says Dr Dzidzo Yirenya-Tawiah, an ecological and public health research scientist at the University of Ghana.

She acquisitions people is not aware of bylaws on noise-making, or are put off complaining because of fears it will affect their honour or standing in the community.

” You may end up being branded as having an evil influence ,” Yirenya-Tawiah says.

Being labelled as evil or a sorceres or wizard can be a serious insult, says Dr Cyril Fayose, general secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana.” Witchcraft accusations are very serious matters in Africa ,” he says,” and sometimes if you are seen as doing witchcraft you can even be punished by culture .”

In August last year, religious leaders, local and national government officials composed a taskforce to combat to Accra’s increasing noise levels, focused on education and enforcement.

Gifty
Gifty Gbana, zonal head of the environmental health and sanitation unit at La Nkwantanang Madina Municipal Assembly, Accra. Photograph: Stacey Knott

” People have become very interested and was mindful of the threat that noise poses, so now the complaints are coming ,” says John Tettey, a taskforce member and head of the education department at the EPA.

Samuel Teye Doku was at the August taskforce meeting representing independent churches. He personally visits churches within his organisation to ensure they don’t build excess interference.” The Bible taught us noise-making- God says we should use instruments ,” he says,” but that doesn’t cause us the opportunity to misuse God’s work .”

There are some religions taking preemptive quantities, such as the Tesano Baptist church, which has invested over the years in new gear and changed its interior design in order to reduce noise levels. Members of the gathering had complained about too-loud business, says head Kenneth Palme.” Loud sound doesn’t necessarily mean good din ,” he says.

When religions do not regulate their interference, going to court can take a lot of time and endeavor due to Ghana’s notoriously slow legal processes. It took 14 years of tenacity and” indescribable agony and bear” for two tenants in the outskirts of Accra to be awarded detriments in a high court ruling against two boisterous neighbouring churches.

The January 2019 rule laid down by a epic of complaints, characters, gratifies and neglected region courtroom activity, as well as a shameles re-zoning by local authorities of one of the church owneds to allow it to continue to hold assistances despite the complaints.

The ruling procured both faiths in breach of building rules and regulations. They were fined for stimulate a nuisance, and the municipal chief executive was fined” for reckless indifference” of the two residents’ rights to” quiet gratification of their owneds “.

‘My fear is my baby will have a hearing problem’

Such bureaucracy was what stopped Isaac from obeying through on his ailments to local authorities- about a rector who appears intent on hindering on with his urge regardless of the complaints.

The noise makes Isaac feel like a bad father-god and partner, he says in the front room of the small one-bedroom flat he rents in their own families house in Madina.

When he moved in, in mid-2 016, he saw no problem with the small prayer service held by his neighbour. However, since then, he says his neighbour has started supporting very loud church services, calling into a microphone in the evenings along with 10 worshippers.

Isaac merely began to complain when his son was born in early 2018.

” My dread is that my babe will have a hearing problem in the future …[ but] when you complain they see you as evil ,” says Isaac, who is himself a Christian.

After reporting the matter to the EPA, he gave up complaining, feeling his concern was being transferred between local and national agencies. With his tenancy lease ending in April, he and his family are counting down the weeks until they move out.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

900 House © 2017 - Interior design ideas, plans, reviews, tips, tricks and much much more...