Ban on drumming is not is not a nuisance as we’ve been told. It has its own good sides. When Ga lords imposes its one-month ban on drumming, residents living by noisy churches give offerings to God. I’m told the noise from guitars, keyboards, drums and microphones 24/7 is unbearable for them. The ban on drumming and other forms of noise making is a period of quietude imposed by the priests. This happens after the ritual sowing of maize to “leave the gods undisturbed while they look after the yams”.
Let me give you some background. Back in the day, the home was a place of sanity, serenity, and peace from work pressures or day’s activities. Now, noise making has reached a height where uninterrupted sleep is a luxury.
Some modern-day churches are defying the one-month ban on drumming. They claim the tradition suppresses their faith. Some say the law is unfair to natives who are not traditionalist. The ban is also perceived as traditional leaders’ ploy to force Christians to abandon their way of worship, conscience. All these contradict provisions of article 21, clause 1 paragraph (c) of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution.
Ga leadership respond that the ban is acknowledged by the 1992 Constitution, and respect for traditional leaders. The ritual of traditional religion has an equal status to other religious rituals be they Christian, Muslim or whatever. According to Kwarteng (1999), the Christians hold that since not all Gas are traditionalists; it is unfair for the overlords to make legislation that bind other Ga natives who are Christians, Muslims, etc.
So when ‘unconcerned’ churches defy the ban, consequences are bound to follow in accordance. Unidentifiable members of society have capitalized on the defiance of the churches to loot them of musical instruments. On Sunday, May 31, 1998, the Korle Bu branch of the Lighthouse Chapel was severely attacked by a mob. The guys injured church members and confiscated the church’s costly instruments (van Dijk, 2001). A gang armed with stones Sunday, May 9, 1999 attacked members of the Awoshie branch of Victory Bible Church. They confiscated their instruments (Bamfo, 1999). Looting of instruments by irate youths was launched at the Osu branch of Christ Apostolic (Chronicle, 2001). The same happened at branches of Apostolic Faith Mission, and the El Shaddai Charismatic Church.
Let me draw your minds to another source of noise pollution we all may have waived off as a threat; Unemployment has forced our youth to promote movies, SIM cards, medicine, etc. on most principal streets. These youth place a public address system in a truck to catch the attention of customers from far and near. The sound released is too inconveniencing to the ears and is a complete barrier to communication. Imagine this same vehicle standing in front of your shop for close to 10 minutes or everyday of the week. I doubt if Section five of the AMA abatement of noise Bye-law of 1995 is being regarded here.
Funerals include the commonest and loudest source of noise every weekend. In most neighbourhoods, no weekend passes without a funeral or a wake keeping ceremony. The ceremony involves erecting canopies and placing public address system and plastic chairs on the streets. Meaning that street is blocked to vehicular movement all weekend. Perpetrators of such acts inconvenience motorists, make noise without permit from the assembly or police.
I don’t even want to talk about the excessive noise from the horns of trotros, taxi cabs, motorcycles, Akobam car. I don’t want to talk countless street jams, birthday parties, and the various types of celebrations we have weekly. These highlight how we have allowed water under the bridge though there are laws in this country.
Laws Against Noise Making
The local metropolises have categorized areas according to the level of noise activity on-going and the time of day. Residential areas with infrequent transportation disturbances, commercial or light industries attract different rating. Heavy industrial areas are rated differently and attract varying noise levels during the day or in the night. But the various metropolitan assemblies are seriously handicapped. Many residents, churches, etc. are flouting these laws and disregarding the well-being of their neighbours.
The stipulated sanctions for sound pollution (AMA Abatement of Noise bye-law) is a joke. “Any person who contravenes any provisions of these Bye-laws commits an offense. And is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding GH¢20.00. Or in default to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or to both”. This sanction, in my view, can never scare the numerous multi-billion companies, churches, night club, etc. These guys make billions of Cedis daily and can pay any fine so they stay in business.
Ban on Drumming: Wayforward
- What good is it to endorse a ban on drumming for one month and making noise 11 other months?
- What good is our wealth when we all go deaf?
- How peaceful are we if we preach peach but act lawlessly with our (in)actions?
- We need common sense to realize the effects of sound abuse are far bigger than religious practices, profit, etc.?
- Tell your neighbour that his or her fundamental human rights ends, where yours begins (1992 Constitution).
Ban of Drumming Works Consulted
Amoah, Michael. 2004. “Christian Musical Worship and ‘Hostility to the Body’: The Medieval Influence Versus the Pentecostal Revolution.” Implicit Religion 7/1: 59–75.
Bamfo, Stella Abena, 1999. “Is the Church safe?”, Letter to the Editor in the Ghanaian Times, 14th May.
Baneseh, Mabel Aku. 2002. “Ban on Drumming begins May 6.” Daily Graphic, March 25.
Field, Mary J. 1937. Traditional Custom and Medicine of the Ga People. London/New York: Oxford University Press
Ghanaian Chronicle, 2001. “Church returns ‘fire’ in drums war.” May 14.
Kwarteng, K. A. 1999. “Taflatse – Of Drumming, Religious Freedom and …” Ghanaian Chronicle, May 12.
Nortey, Naa, 2009. Noise levels in Accra on the increase. www.modernghana.com. 30 September.
van Dijk, R.A. 2001.’Contesting silence : the ban on drumming and the musical politics of Pentecostalism in Ghana’. Ghana studies, vol. 4, pp. 31-64.