900 House

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

‘ If you complain they see you as evil ‘: Accra’s religious racket trouble

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 pierce you. Satan will devour you ,” wails Apostle Michael Sarfo at a major superhighway intersection in Ghana’s capital, Accra. He preaches for five hours every weekday morning, with a stack of talkers enlarging his evangelism. Passersby stop to receive prayers and bless, some tossing their coin offerings 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 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 entire populations multiplies and the city gets noisier, occupants 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 parties deplored. He accepts those who complain about the noise are not true Christians.

Apostle
Apostle Michael Sarfo, who situateds up at a busy intersection every weekday morning with other rectors and their loudspeakers to spread the truth. 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 interference objections are about churches. Experts and tenants across Accra point to what are known locally as” one-man churches”- small-time, independent evangelical religions with no organizational structure- as the biggest sinners. They spring up in backyards, unfinished structures, under trees and on foyers. And despite their tiny 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 grievances is taking over her daily work in her small, concrete power in the outskirts of Accra.

” Every single epoch somebody is complaining about noise ,” says Gbana. By her suppose, about 65% of her duration is spent dealing with noise disorders. Most frequently the complaints are about a church.

Although Gbana’s department attempts to intervene or mediate wherever possible, cases often end up in courtroom. One such example involves a faith that would certainly 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 religion. Lambert Kwara, attorney for the neighbourhood forum, says there has been an increase in noise complaint instances over the past six years. On the working day he argues 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 provides notices.

Members
Members of the Tesano Baptist church at a Sunday service. The faith has invested 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 insult ,” Gbana says. Branding complainants “witches” or “wizards” is a common tactic. In add-on, it is not peculiar for Gbana to face pressure to dismiss clients from well-connected parties in the community.

But Gbana is resolute that peace( and quiet) must dominate- although she has acknowledged that organizations 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 premiers in the lead-up to the Homowo harvest festival, when it is common for neighbourhood loudnes vigilantes to hijack loudspeakers of recalcitrant noise-makers.

But aside from this annual break, the government of noise in Accra is a public health concern, feigning editions wandering from increased stress ranks to hearing loss, says Dr Dzidzo Yirenya-Tawiah, an ecological and public health research scientist at the University of Ghana.

She acquisitions beings are unaware 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 labelled 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 are able to even be punished by society .”

In August last year, religious leaders, local and national government officials generated 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 are conscious of the jeopardy that interference 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 sees churches within his organisation to ensure they don’t attain excessive noise.” The Bible taught us noise-making- God says we should use instruments ,” he says,” but that doesn’t return us the opportunity to misuse God’s work .”

There are some churches taking preemptive appraises, such as the Tesano Baptist church, which is an investment over its first year in brand-new paraphernalium and accommodated its interior design in order to reduce noise levels. Members of the flock had complained about too-loud works, says head Kenneth Palme.” Loud sound doesn’t necessarily mean good tone ,” he says.

When faiths do not regulate their racket, going to court can take a lot of season and attempt due to Ghana’s notoriously slow legal processes. It took 14 years of tenacity and” indescribable tendernes and endure” for two inhabitants in the outskirts of Accra to be awarded mars in a high court ruling against two loud neighbouring churches.

The January 2019 ruling laid out a story of complaints, words, satisfies and failed territory court act, as well as a brazen-faced re-zoning by local authorities of one of the church dimensions to allow it to continue to hold assistances despite the complaints.

The ruling noted both churches in breach of building rules and regulations. They were penalty for cause a nuisance, and the municipal chief executive was fined” for reckless disdain” of the two residents’ rights to” quiet joy of their properties “.

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

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

The noise reaches 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 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 nursing very loud church services, screaming into a microphone in the evenings together with 10 worshippers.

Isaac simply 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 complain they “ve seen you” as evil ,” says Isaac, who is himself a Christian.

After reporting the matter to the EPA, he gave up grumbling, feeling his concern was being passed between local and national organizations. 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...