On Monday, 23rd April 2018, the Ga Traditional Council (GTC) announced a ban on drumming and noise-making in the traditional area starting May 14 to June 14, 2018. The month long ban is a custom that heralds the celebration of the Homowo Festival of the chiefs and people of Ga Mashie.
During this period, the desire of the traditional authority is that there will be total peace and calm and that all persons, groups and organizations will shy away from making noise. The GTC insists that the ban and consequential silence has spiritual connotations for them, ahead of the festival.
In fact, beyond the presser, there was also a joint release, signed by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly and the GTC that emphasized the manner in which we are all expected to conduct ourselves during this period. Instructively, no persons, groups or organizations raised any concerns that they are unable to comply with this simple directive.
Let me quickly re-echo the fact that the ban on drumming and noise making is not the preserve of the people of Accra. Other tribes including some sections of the Akan community observe same. There is even a school of thought that seeks to suggest that the ban is enforced better at other places than in the Ga-land.
So, with that understanding, the ban took full effect on Monday, 14th May 2018, presumably from 6: 00 am. All was well, until I stepped out of my office at Kanda, heading towards North Kaneshie on the ring road around 11: 20 am. I didn’t struggle to notice with deep regret and grave concern how a National Youth Organizer aspirant of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and his supporters were blatantly flouting the ban on drumming and noise making to submit their nomination forms amid loud noise, pomp and pageantry at the Total filling station near Paloma hotel. They had gathered at the fuel station in readiness to march to the party’s national headquarters at Asylum Down in Accra, which was about some 250 meters away. What for? To submit a nomination form!
I assumed that they may have forgotten that there is a ban in force, given the fact that noise making is actually the ‘surname’ of the city of Accra and also the ‘middle name’ of almost all outdoor public gatherings. I said to myself “cut them some slack, Johnnie. It’s early days yet. They will come along. The noise will surely end after the forms have been submitted”. But NO, I was wrong! The noise stretched through the day and continued even the day after. Of course, not with the same aspirant. Other aspirants also joined in with their brass band et al, possibly to out do their contenders in the race. This continued on Tuesday when the party actually closed nominations, with acting General Secretary of the NPP, John Boadu confidently addressing the press.
For me, I consider this act as a clear violation of what the NPP has not previously said it doesn’t support. Yet, these happened at no mean a place, than the national headquarters of the party. And at the least opportunity, the NPP finds it prudent to remind us all that it is a law abiding political grouping and that her key principles include the rule of law. These are not in doubt, but on that score, at least, we expect those desirous of leading the party at the national level to demonstrate these tenets at all times. Note also, that these aspirants are people who hope to lead a governing party. Their voices will be heard at high places and their decisions will impact on all of us whether we support them or not. Yet, they chose to break a very simple regulation – DO NOT MAKE NOISE! Why couldn’t they stay away from the temptation? I have no idea.
Now, with this glaring ‘unlawful’ behaviour, it leaves me with very little trust for these aspirants. Then it also makes me question what levels of respect they have for the Ga Traditional Council, compared to how they have behaved in other quarters recently. Well, will the case be any different when they finally get the power they seek? Have they no culture and tradition where they come from? Do they respect the Gas among their ranks, so much so that they could have given just a little consideration to the ban? And what have the prominent Gas within the NPP, said about this flat disregard for their tradition and culture? Will the NPP ever condemn this, and in sure hope that it never happens again? Was this part of the agreement the traditional council reached with the political parties? When will the Ga Traditional Council speak up considering the fact that the ban has a long way to travel? Where was the task force and monitoring team comprising the GTC, AMA and Ghana Police at the time the noise was being made? Will this seeming silent treatment be extended to the churches, mosques, pubs, etc that may also falter in the coming days?
I have heard some persons explain this action as a consequence of the ill-attitude and behaviour of some Ga chiefs. They have vehemently argued that respect begets respect. I totally agree with that, but that in no way, is an excuse. Now, the fact that some Ga chiefs have either embarrassed themselves, their stools and subjects in the past by their actions and utterances, doesn’t in anyway mean that they represent the totality of the Ga state. The truth is, there are all manner of chiefs across Ghana, from different tribes and clans who have goofed at some point in time. Some of them have even been destooled for sundry reasons. Yet, that didn’t reduce the authority of the paramountcy or traditional council under which they served? If it ever did, that would be tantamount to shutting down the schools in an entire district or region because one class teacher failed to teach right, causing his or her students to fail. On the flip side, can the Ga Traditional Council work on its image and that of all its agents? Respect is reciprocal. How the people view the GTC will determine the level of respect they accord it.
Another school of thought has it that Accra is Ghana’s capital city and a cosmopolitan area for that matter. Therefore, with the wide mix of people and cultures drawn from all over the world, the ban should be relaxed since the numbers of non-Gas actually outweighs that of Gas. Well, how about what St. Ambrose once said ‘si fueris Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre; si fueris alibī, vīvitō sīcut ibī” to wit, “if you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there”.
I have also heard of Itinerant preachers at East Legon school junction and other places disrespecting the ban. This brings me to question the capacity of the task force Nii Dodoo Nsaki spoke about. Do they have what it takes to enforce the ban within the remits of the law? Or are they cherry picking on those and where to enforce the ban? Is it a case of ‘The weaker and more compliant you appear, the harder we come at you’? Or are the chiefs who are supposed to be working with the local assembly to enforce the ban not yet awake to the aroma of the coffee? Eyes are watching!
For now, life goes on and I am really enjoying the peaceful nature of Accra. May this season of bliss continue even after 14th June when the ban will cease to be effective.
By Johnnie Hughes| Award-wining host of #CommunityConnect, a community torch bearer on 3FM 92.7 Mhz