There was deafening silence around the Ablekuma Nsumfa area, which is usually agog with live praise music accompanied by instruments from churches in the area on Sunday morning.
This was the situation except for some muted congregational responses and sporadic clapping.
Other churches within the Ga Traditional Area held services on Sunday without musical instruments, all as a result of a ban on drumming and noise-making imposed by the Ga Traditional Council, which even affects clapping of hands in worship.
A letter from the office of the regent of Darkuman-Okaiman signed by the acting chief, Nii Okanta Dimson and dated April 25, 2014, which was distributed to churches in their jurisdiction, forbade them from even clapping during worship.
Listing six rules to be observed by the churches, the letter states; “No clapping, microphone, megaphone, organ, drumming, funeral and naming celebration with sound system and any form of noise- making. Each church will give customary drink of GH¢150.00.”
Agreement between religious leaders and Ga Traditional Council
The directive from the Darkuman-Okaiman regent’s office, however, goes contrary to the agreement reached between religious leaders and the Ga Traditional Council held on May 9, 2014 at the Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinating Council office.
A statement issued after the meeting and signed by Mr Ernest Nyagbe, Regional Co-ordinating Director, stipulated five guidelines binding on all parties during the period of the ban from May 12 to June 12, 2014.
One is that the usual form of worship should be confined to church premises and noise levels minimised to the prescribed levels. Also the Christian community and the traditional authorities must show respect for one another and restrain their followers from making derogatory remarks about each other’s beliefs. It was also agreed that loud speakers must not be positioned outside churches and mosques.
“Apart from the task force which consists of AMA personnel, the police service and representatives of the Traditional Council, no other person or group of persons should be seen or found enforcing the abatement of excessive noise in the metropolis,” the statement said.
This provision, according to checks by the Daily Graphic, is already being flouted. Reports indicate that a gang of locals entered the Odorkor branch of the Full Gospel Church International (FGCI) last Friday during worship and took away their microphones with the claim that they were flouting the ban on noise-making.
An amount of GH¢500 was demanded from the church as penalty before their microphones would be released to them.
A nine-point joint declaration was issued by a standing committee made up of representatives of the Ga Traditional Council, the National Catholic Secretariat, the Christian Council of Ghana, Afrikania Mission, Ghana Pentecostal Council, The Council of Independent Churches, The National Association of Charismatic Churches, Office of the National Chief Imam, the Federation of Muslim Councils of Ghana and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, which took effect from May 1, 2000.
It states, among others, that “We recognise freedom of worship… All reports of infractions and infringements of the prescribed noise levels during the stated period of the customary ban shall be referred to the standing committee, which shall have powers of adjudication and compliance.”
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