900 House

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

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

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

” If you flout the laws of God, the serpent will pierce you. Satan will spend you ,” outcries Apostle Michael Sarfo at a major superhighway intersection in Ghana’s capital, Accra. He proclaims for five hours every weekday morning, with a stack of orators amplifying his evangelism. Passersby stop to receive prayers and boons, some tossing their money 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 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 entire populations growths and the city gets noisier, tenants 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 degrees after parties grumbled. He accepts those who complain about the racket are not true Christians.

Apostle
Apostle Michael Sarfo, who changes 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 interference objections are about faiths. Approvals and residents across Accra point to what are known locally as” one-man churches”- small, independent evangelical faiths with no organizational structure- as the most prominent convicts. They spring up in backyards, unfinished buildings, 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 objections is taking over her daily work in her small-scale, concrete place in the outskirts of Accra.

” Every single daylight somebody is complaining about noise ,” says Gbana. By her gues, about 65% of her season is spent dealing with noise objections. 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 event 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 local meeting, says there has been an increase in noise complaint lawsuits over the past six years. On the day he reasons 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 acts notices.

Members
Members of the Tesano Baptist church at a Sunday service. The religion invests in brand-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 add-on, it is not uncommon for Gbana to face pressure to dismiss subjects from well-connected beings in the community.

But Gbana is resolute that peace( and quiet) must persist- 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 interference comes during the month-long ban on noise-making imposed by boss in the lead-up to the Homowo harvest festival, when it is common for local capacity vigilantes to abduct loudspeakers of recalcitrant noise-makers.

But aside from this annual break, the territory of noise in Accra is a public health concern, altering problems ranging from increased stress levels to hearing loss, says Dr Dzidzo Yirenya-Tawiah, an environmental and public health research scientist at the University of Ghana.

She locates people are not aware of bylaws on noise-making, or are put over grumbling because of frights it will affect their reputation or stand in the community.

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

Being tagged as evil or a sorceres or hotshot 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 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 well known the jeopardy 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 inspects religions within his organisation to ensure they don’t induce undue noise.” The Bible taught us noise-making- God says we should use instruments ,” he says,” but that doesn’t devote us the opportunity to misuse God’s work .”

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

When religions do not regulate their noise, 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 sorenes and bear” for two residents in the outskirts of Accra to be awarded shatterings in a high court ruling against two loud neighbouring churches.

The January 2019 decree laid out a epic of complaints, words, rallies and neglected district court act, as well as a brazen-faced re-zoning by local authorities of one of the church properties to allow it to continue to hold business despite the complaints.

The ruling received 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 dismis” of the two residents’ rights to” quiet enjoyment of their dimensions “.

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

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

The noise establishes Isaac feel like a bad father-god and partner, he says in the living room of the small one-bedroom flat he hires 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 getting started viewing very loud church services, screaming into a microphone in the evenings together with 10 worshippers.

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

” My panic is that my child 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 extended 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...