The Ga Traditional Council on May 8, 2017 placed a ban on drumming and noise-making as part of preparations towards 2017 Homowo. History has it that the Ga-Dangme people suffered starvation during their migration to their present settlement. As a result of this, they initiated an annual traditional rite to observe absolute silence for the gods and ancestors of the Ga State to bless the land with bumper harvest ahead of the celebration of the festival. It is expected that all the stakeholders will play their roles in ensuring that the one month ban period will be devoid of confusion and confrontation.
Unfortunately, the conflict bordering on religious intolerance has become an annual ritual during the one month ban on drumming and noise-making in Accra. This has in recent times led to serious clashes between operators of night clubs, drinking bars, shops selling musical instruments, church groups among others and some youth who think such facilities generate excessive noise. When the situation gets out of hand, it results in gross violations and flagrant abuse of human rights, loss of property and in some cases, death.
Unfortunately, religious groups are seen as the worst culprit of these noise-makers, leading to tension between them and the traditionalists. Some have argued that with the constitutional provisions which guarantee the freedom of worship, the religious groups see the ban on drumming and noise-making as an infringement on their unalienable fundamental human rights and therefore disregard it with contempt. They further contend that the observance of the ban is contrary to their belief. Thus, obeying the ban will mean compromising on their faith and biblical teachings. Others have also argued that the traditional rulers are the custodians of the land and have every right to enforce silence at a particular time of the year in accordance with customs and traditions and this should be respected.
It is true that Accra, the Capital city, is a melting pot of diverse origins and cultures where people co-exist with one another. But it is also true that Accra cannot be said to be no man’s land. This calls for rules of mutual tolerance on the part of all for the common good of society. Strangely enough, in other traditional jurisdictions of the country, once a ban is imposed, people obey it without questioning, but when it comes to drumming and noise-making in Accra, hell breaks loose! This does not augur well for peace and development of the capital Accra. Every culture has its uniqueness. And respect for each other’s culture must be mutual and is a sign of maturity and tolerance for peaceful co-existence in any harmonious society.
Let us not forget that every festive occasion of any group of people in the country is an opportunity for them to retell their history to the younger generations. Ghana is blessed with many festivals which are held yearly in various parts of the country and celebrations of such festivals should be things that unite us more than divide us. It is in this regard that traditional areas which often place ban on drumming and noise-making should have constructive engagement with key interest groups to maintain the peace.
In enforcing the ban, the traditionalists should not take the law into their own hands to mete out instant justice to offenders by either seizing or vandalizing property. The enforcement of the ban on drumming in the Ga Traditional area which has in recent years led to confrontation and confusion with some youth arrogating to themselves the duties and functions of the security agencies should be discouraged. Offenders who violate the ban should be dealt with according to the law and any infractions of the law should be reported to the Task Force on Nuisance Control and the law enforcement agencies mandated to monitor and ensure compliance.
There is the need for stakeholders – particularly Police, Churches, Events organizers, Traditional rulers, Opinion leaders, the media, Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council and Accra Metropolitan Assembly to work towards ensuring peace and tranquility during the period of the ban on drumming and noise-making in the Accra Metropolis.
Let there be peace in Accra this time round.
By George Oko Mensah, a Freelance Journalist.