Every year, the Ga
Traditional Council in the Greater Accra Region, in collaboration with the
fetish priests and priestess, declare a month’s ban on noise making and
drumming prior to the celebration of the annual Homowo Festival. 

The ban on noise
making and drumming is rooted in the traditional religion of the Ga people,
hence everybody living on Ga lands is required to comply with the ban and
desist from noise making and drumming until the ban is lifted. Both believers
of Islamic and Christian faiths are equally expected to adhere to the
ban. 

In this article, we
will examine the legality of the ban and see if it is lawful and further
concern ourselves with whether or not the Mosques and Churches should willingly
obey a ban imposed by the traditional religious faith.

2019 ban on noise making and drumming

This year, the ban on
noise making and drumming was imposed on 13th May 2019 and it is expected to be
in force till 13th June, 2019.

In accordance with the
ban, Mosques and Churches are required to ensure that any worship –
related noise is confined to the places of worship only. 

The ban is not meant
for religious bodies alone but it is a general ban on noise making and drumming
regardless of where the noise emanates from and regardless of who makes the
noise. As such, the traditional religious faithful, as well as people of other
faiths residing on Ga lands, are expected to obey the ban.

Mindful of the fact
that social deviants or non-conformers exist in society, the Ga Traditional
Council (GTC) usually puts a taskforce in place to seize any musical
instruments that are being played in high volumes and ensure that the
perpetrators are brought to book.

What we see in
Ghanaian communities in contemporary times is excessive noise making by Churches
and Mosques as well as street preacher men and those who sell musicals. Noise
pollution has thus become a nuisance in most Ghanaian communities and the
authorities are seemingly helpless in the situation.

Per section 2(g) of
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Act, 1994 (Act 490), it is one of the
functions of the EPA to *”issue notice in  the form  of
directives, procedures  or warnings to any other person or body  for
the  purpose of  controlling the  volume, intensity  and
quality of  noise in  the environment.”

However, the EPA has virtually
failed in the performance of its duty in this regard. Personally therefore, I
wish the National House of Chiefs should even nationalise the ban on noise
making so that every city or traditional area in Ghana will observe it every
year. 

Sometimes you enter a
Church or Mosque with only few members but loud public address systems are used
to address the congregants at very high decibels. Some of the religious leaders
do this for evangelistic purposes so that they can equally preach to other
souls outside the places of worship where the noise is made. But this is
wrong. 

Whenever one travels
to the very developed countries where religious practices still go on, such
noises are not made because there is strict enforcement of laws that touch on
noise pollution.

 In Ghana
however, anything goes so far as noise making is concerned. I become extremely
happy anytime the GTC declares its ban on noise making. This is because the
environment becomes less noisy.

But is it legal for the Ga Traditional Council
to declare the ban?

Yes. Article 11 of the
supreme law of Ghana, the 1992 Constitution enshrines the sources of law in
Ghana and one of the sources of law is the Customary law which is shrouded in
the customs and traditions of the people and especially when those customs and
traditions are not injurious to society or the general public.

 On this
constitutional altar, we can submit with a significant margin of certainty that
it is legally right for the GTC to place a ban on noise making per their
traditional calendar and people residing on the Ga lands must obey the ban
willingly and ensure that they are not forced to do so. 

After all, there must
be religious tolerance aside the reality that the traditional authorities are
the custodians of the lands on which we reside. 

God or Allah is known
to be peaceful and not disorderly so those who worship Him must mimic his
nature and must therefore not put up behaviors that may lead to unnecessary
conundrum. 

It is therefore
surprising that some Mosques and Churches do not adhere to the ban on drumming
and noise making and tend to have confrontations with both traditional and city
authorities sometimes. 

Also, the traditional
councils in Ghana are created by the 1992 Constitution as enshrined under
Article 270(1). As such, traditional councils are legally mandated to take
certain actions in accordance with the traditions and customs of the people and
such actions such as those in the forms of periodic bans on noise making must
be respected.

It is therefore
advised that the EPA should partner strongly with the GTC to enforce the one
month ban on noise making every year.

The health benefits of the ban on noise making

Having examined the
cultural/religious and legal aspects of the yearly ban on drumming and noise
making by the GTC in preparation for the Homowo celebrations, it is imperative
to also examine the health benefits of the ban.

It has been
established scientifically that noise does not only lead to environmental
and psychological harms but also physical harms. It is evidential that people
who live in noisy environments suffer more from fatigue and psychosomatic
disorders. 

If this is true, then
we must make less noise in our places of abode or go on noise holidays
periodically hence the GTC ban on noise making is worthy of support and all
religious bodies in the country must support it and even replicate it
throughout the country.

Conclusion

It is no longer
doubtful, at least per this article that the yearly ban on drumming and noise
making imposed by the Ga Traditional Council is beneficial to society.

Islamic and Christian
leaders must therefore support the ban and encourage their congregations to
willingly comply with it even at their homes.

It is also advised
that Christians and Moslems should not to devilise the ban but rather
internalise it because it has health benefits for all persons irrespective of
their religious beliefs.

Now, one may ask
rhetorically that if Ga Traditional Council is able to impose a yearly ban on
noise making, why can’t the EPA, a government agency do so and ensure it takes
a nationwide effect? 

Asante Sana.

Source: Author Philip Afeti Korto 



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