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 problem

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

” If you disobey the laws of God, the serpent will pierce you. Satan will spend you ,” calls Apostle Michael Sarfo at a major superhighway intersection in Ghana’s capital, Accra. He urges for five hours every weekday morning, with a load of orators enlarging his evangelism. Passersby stop to receive devotions and supports, some tossing their fund presents from moving cars.

In Accra, you are never far from religious speeches. Harmonizing to one estimate, there are approximately 10 religions per sq km, and open-air preaching, whether on public transport, in bus terminals or at road 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- 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 levels after people deplored. He imagines those who complain about the interference are not true Christians.

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

” Not everyone is 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 grumbles are about faiths. Approvals and inhabitants across Accra point to what are known locally as” one-man religions”- tiny, independent evangelical faiths with no organizational structure- as “the worlds biggest” wrongdoers. They spring up in backyards, unfinished builds, under trees and on porches. And despite their small congregations, 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-scale, concrete bureau in the outskirts of Accra.

” Every single epoch somebody is complaining about noise ,” says Gbana. By her calculation, about 65% of her season is spent dealing with noise complaints. Most often 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 speciman 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 brands neighbours’ complaints as “unjustifiable” and an infringement of his right to practise his belief. Lambert Kwara, attorney for the local assembly, says there has been an increase in noise complaint instances over the past six years. On the working day he quarrels 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 religion has invested in brand-new paraphernalium and accommodated 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, it is not unusual for Gbana to face pressure to reject specimen from well-connected people in the community.

But Gbana is resolute that peace( and quiet) must reign- although she admits that structures 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 foremen in the lead-up to the Homowo harvest festival, when it is common for neighbourhood magnitude vigilantes to seize loudspeakers of recalcitrant noise-makers.

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

She detects people are unaware of bylaws on noise-making, or are put over grumbling because of suspicions 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 witch 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 punished appropriately by civilization .”

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

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

When religions do not regulate their interference, 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” unspeakable agony and bear” for two tenants in the outskirts of Accra to be awarded injuries in a high court ruling against two loud neighbouring churches.

The January 2019 verdict laid down by a tale of complaints, characters, sees and miscarried region courtroom activity, as well as a brazen-faced re-zoning by local authorities of one of the church owneds to allow it to continue to hold assistances despite the complaints.

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

‘My horror 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 clergyman who appears intent on obstructing on with his evangelism 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 their own families 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 viewing very loud church services, screaming into a microphone in the nights together with 10 worshippers.

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

” My fear is that my newborn 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 gave up deploring, feeling his concern was being legislated between local and national business. 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...