900 House

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

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

One-man faiths forearmed 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 down you ,” shouts 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 orators enlarging his evangelism. Passersby stop to receive devotions and favors, some tossing their fund presents from moving cars.

In Accra, you are never far from religious sermons. Harmonizing to one estimate, there are approximately 10 religions 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, inhabitants are becoming more willing to fight back- resulting 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 beings complained. He conceives those who complain about the noise are not true Christians.

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

” Not everybody 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 interference ailments are about religions. Approvals and residents across Accra point to what are known locally as” one-man churches”- small-minded, independent evangelical faiths with no organizational structure- as the biggest convicts. They spring up in backyards, unfinished builds, under trees and on porches. 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 grumbles is taking over her daily work in her small-time, concrete office in the outskirts of Accra.

” Every single era somebody is complaining about noise ,” says Gbana. By her compute, about 65% of her time is spent dealing with noise grumbles. Most regularly the complaints are about a church.

Although Gbana’s department attempts to intervene or mediate wherever possible, cases often end up in tribunal. 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 fellowship of his family members and firebrands neighbours’ complaints as “unjustifiable” and an infringement of his right to practise his belief. Lambert Kwara, lawyer for the neighbourhood meeting, says there has been an increase in noise complaint actions over the past six years. On the day he insists 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 suffices notices.

Members
Members of the Tesano Baptist church at a Sunday service. The church has invested in new material and changed 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 addition, it is not unusual for Gbana to face pressure to dismiss instances from well-connected beings in the community.

But Gbana is resolute that peace( and quiet) must predominate- although she admits that systems 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 managers in the lead-up to the Homowo harvest festival, when it is common for neighbourhood loudnes vigilantes to grab loudspeakers of recalcitrant noise-makers.

But aside from this annual break, the territory of interference in Accra is a public health concern, affecting questions straying from increased stress stages to hearing loss, says Dr Dzidzo Yirenya-Tawiah, an environmental and public health research scientist at the University of Ghana.

She spots parties are unaware of bylaws on noise-making, or are put off deploring because of panics it will affect their reputation 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 voodoo 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 civilization .”

In August last year, religious leaders, local and national government officials created 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 danger that interference 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 faiths. He personally inspects religions within his organisation to ensure they don’t stir excessive interference.” The Bible taught us noise-making- God says we should use instruments ,” he says,” but that doesn’t render us the opportunity to misuse God’s work .”

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

When churches do not regulate their racket, going to court can take a lot of time and effort due to Ghana’s notoriously slow legal processes. It took 14 years of tenacity and” indescribable suffering and woe” for two occupants in the outskirts of Accra to be awarded injuries in a high court ruling against two noisy neighbouring churches.

The January 2019 rule laid down by a epic of complaints, letters, sees and failed district tribunal action, as well as a impudent re-zoning by local authorities of one of the church dimensions to allow it to continue to hold business despite the complaints.

The ruling determined 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 relish of their properties “.

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

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

The noise realise Isaac feel like a bad father and spouse, he says in the front room of the small one-bedroom flat he rents 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. Nonetheless, since then, he says his neighbour has started hampering very loud church services, screaming into a microphone in the evenings together with 10 worshippers.

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

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

After reporting the matter to the EPA, he gave up deploring, feeling his concern was being delivered 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...