Accra, the capital city of Ghana, has implemented a ban on drumming and noise making for a month to respect traditions of the Ga people and the seed planting period.
The greater Accra region starts one month of silence with a ban on drumming and noise making from May 9 until June 9, 2022.
The ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious affairs announced on May 5 the conditions of the ban affecting “any form of noise making including the use of loud speakers, drum, tambourine, clapping of hands and the use of any form of instruments”. The next day, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly also set the guidelines “in the interest of peace, harmony and national security,” according to its press release.
During this period, churches are expected to refrain from the use of musical instruments and carry out their activities within their premises. Loudspeakers outside of churches, mosques and pubs are banned, and roadside evangelists need to cease their activities during this period.
Religious and traditional authorities “must show respect for one another and restrain their followers from making derogatory and inflammatory remarks about the beliefs and practices of one another,” the statement added.
Such guidelines are now being imposed every year at the same period to respect the ban issued by the Ga Traditional Council. Restrictions apply in of all the Ga state.
The Ga people are an ethnic community mainly located in the south of the country and around the capital city, Accra, a region of 5.4 million people. The Ga and the Adangbe people are part of the same ethnolinguistic group accounting for 2.1 million people in Ghana, 7% of the country’s total population.
Banning noise has been an ancient customary practice for the Gas as noise would interfere with the germination of seeds by keeping away gods. Every year, the Ga Traditional Council issues a ban on noise during this period that coincides with seed planting before the rainy season.
It also bans funeral rites for a month, an important part of the Ga culture as people craft fantasy coffins before the deceased move to another life.
The Public Relations Officer of the Ga Traditional Council, Nii Lartey Anum Tetteh said during this period, “the Ga state will fast and pray for rainfall, a bountiful harvest and good tidings”. The germination period is part of the Homowo, a food estival that “hoots at hunger” as per its literal meaning remembering ancient famine. It ends with celebrations in August with the Gas marching down roads and streets beating drums, chanting, face painting, singing and traditional dances.
The Ga Traditional Council said it reached an understanding with the orthodox churches which will cooperate during the ban. Over the past years, the ban as been respected by other communities. But it hasn’t always been like this.
This period without noise also affects religious communities that took over than traditional cultures during the past decades in the country. In Ghana, 32% are affiliated with Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, 17% are Protestants, 10% are Catholic and 20% are Muslims, according to the 2021 Ghana census. And music is a central part of the Pentecostal communities in Ghana, for instance.
Twenty years ago, Pentecostal and Charismatic communities disregarded the ban of music and drumming, which infuriated the Ga people who attacked churches. For a few years, conflicts arose between the communities, opposing Ga cultural traditions on one side with freedom of religion on the other.
With the directives issued by Ghana’s administrative authorities, the ban is part of official rules to respect. But it also makes sure no individuals other than official authorities, the Ghana Police service or some representatives of the Ga Traditional Councils try to enforce the ban themselves.