900 House

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

‘ If you complain they “ve seen you” as evil ‘: Accra’s religious racket difficulty

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

” If you disobey the laws of God, the serpent will bite you. Satan will spend you ,” outcries Apostle Michael Sarfo at a major road intersection in Ghana’s capital, Accra. He proclaims for five hours every weekday morning, with a load of talkers enlarging his evangelism. Passersby stop to receive devotions and praises, some tossing their coin offerings from moving cars.

In Accra, you are never far from religious sermons. Harmonizing 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 street 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 additions and the city gets noisier, occupants are becoming more willing to fight back- developing 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 degrees after beings grumbled. He speculates those who complain about the racket are not true Christians.

Apostle
Apostle Michael Sarfo, who determineds up at a busy intersection every weekday morning with other rectors 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 racket disorders are about religions. Experts and residents across Accra point to what are known locally as” one-man churches”- tiny, independent evangelical faiths with no organisational structure- as the most prominent culprits. They spring up in backyards, unfinished structures, under trees and on halls. And despite their small parishes, 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 objections is taking over her daily work in her small-minded, concrete role in the outskirts of Accra.

” Every single daytime somebody is complaining about noise ,” says Gbana. By her computation, about 65% of her era is spent dealing with noise ailments. Most frequently the complaints are about a church.

Although Gbana’s department attempts to intervene or mediate wherever possible, cases often end up in court. One such example involves a church that has clearly been set up inside a family home in a new development on the city’s outskirts.

The pastor says his church was simply a fellowship of his family members and labels neighbours’ complaints as “unjustifiable” and an infringement of his right to practise his belief. Lambert Kwara, lawyer for the local meeting, says there has been an increase in noise complaint instances over the past six years. On the day he disagrees 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 helps notices.

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

” Some of the pastors will not take it kindly, some will insult ,” Gbana says. Branding complainants “witches” or “wizards” is a common tactic. In additive, “its not” peculiar for Gbana to face pressure to reject actions from well-connected people in the community.

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

One yearly respite from the racket comes during the month-long ban on noise-making imposed by premiers in the lead-up to the Homowo harvest festival, when it is common for local publication vigilantes to impound loudspeakers of recalcitrant noise-makers.

But aside from this annual break, the country of racket in Accra is a public health concern, feigning concerns arraying from increased stress levels to hearing loss, says Dr Dzidzo Yirenya-Tawiah, an ecological and public health research scientist at the University of Ghana.

She catches people are unaware of bylaws on noise-making, or are put off grumbling because of anxieties it will affect their honour or standing in the community.

” You may end up being labelled 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 sorcery you are able to even be punished by culture .”

In August last year, religious leaders, local and national government officials caused 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 aware of the peril that racket constitutes, so now individual 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 faiths. He personally inspects churches within his organisation to ensure they don’t stimulate excess noise.” The Bible taught us noise-making- God says we should use instruments ,” he says,” but that doesn’t commit us the opportunity to misuse God’s work .”

There are some churches taking preemptive calibrates, such as the Tesano Baptist church, which has invested over the years in brand-new material and changed its interior design in order to reduce noise levels. Members of the flock had complained about too-loud works, says administrator Kenneth Palme.” Loud sound doesn’t necessarily mean good music ,” he says.

When churches do not regulate their noise, going to court can take a lot of time and try due to Ghana’s notoriously slow legal processes. It took 14 years of tenacity and” unspeakable anguish and torment” for two residents in the outskirts of Accra to be awarded detriments in a high court ruling against two loud neighbouring churches.

The January 2019 ruling laid out a saga of complaints, words, fits and flunked region courtroom action, as well as a brazen re-zoning by local authorities of one of the church belongings to allow it to continue to hold services despite the complaints.

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

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

Such bureaucracy was what stopped Isaac from following through on his grumbles to local authorities- about a rector who appears intent on preventing on with his sermon regardless of the complaints.

The noise stirs Isaac feel like a bad papa and partner, he says in the front room of the small one-bedroom flat he leases in a family house in Madina.

When he moved here, 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 holding very loud church services, screaming into a microphone in the nights along with 10 worshippers.

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

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

After reporting the matter to the EPA, he “ve been given” grumbling, feeling his concern was being legislated between local and national bureaux. 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...