The Noise Silence Makes: The Ghanaian State Negotiates Ritual Ban on Noise Making in Accra
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractEvery year, the Ga traditional community in Accra inaugurates a four week period of sonic fast in preparation of a harvest festival, Hɔmɔwɔ. This ritual restriction of noise, commonly known as the “ban on drumming,” applies to practically all neighborhoods in the city and is meant to honor the Ga deities who come down to ensure a bountiful harvest. According to Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, the Ga are the official custodians of Accra’s lands and are authorized to freely practice their customs. The ban escalated into a matter of national concern in the late 1990s as Pentecostal/Charismatic churches refused to subdue their spirited worship in order to honor the Ga festival guidelines. The dissertation tackles two questions pertinent to the confrontations surrounding “the ban on drumming." First, it reaches back to the late nineteenth century to observe the transforming patterns of strategic noise regulation in Accra designed to mediate the relationship between various socio-cultural groups. It argues that the Ga command of sound abatement regulations in Accra signals a novel paradigm wherein a traditional group not only dictates the standards of noise production but also advocates for silence – conventionally a marker of “progress” and “modernity,” in the face of a Christian group that insists on its right to “noise,” historically a trait of the “barbarous” “other.” Second, the dissertation posits that the response of the Ghanaian state to the tensions surrounding the “Drum Wars” sheds light on the little studied properties of Ghanaian secularism wherein the state unofficially collaborates with the traditional religious authorities in the administration of the Accra municipal area yet publicly grants a superior status to Christianity and Islam compared to traditional religion.
Religion, Committee on the Study of
TypeThesis or Dissertation
Goshadze, Mariam. 2020. The Noise Silence Makes: The Ghanaian State Negotiates Ritual Ban on Noise Making in Accra. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.