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Accra: the Ga folks’s annual ban on noise restores a religious reference to the ocean

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Accra, Ghana’s capital, is a loud cosmopolitan metropolis of almost three million people. Its energetic nightlife, business markets and factories create a deafening mixture of sound trails day and night time. These artificial sounds have virtually drowned out the pure on a regular basis sounds of Accra. And an important of those is the regular drone sound of the ocean, now normally subdued to a mere background hush.

Because the native Ga folks say, Ga efee hoo (“Accra has develop into noisy”). The Ga, who’re made up of Ga Mashie, Osu, La, Teshie, Nungua, Tema, and Kpone folks, belong to the Ga-Dangme group of individuals discovered within the Larger Accra area of Ghana.

As soon as yearly, between Could and September, the Ga impose a ritual ban on noise-making and funeral rites in Ga cities for a interval of 1 month in order to commemorate their annual harvest competition often called Hↄmↄwↄ (pr. hor-mor-wor). By activating the ban, Ga cities implement the suspension of mundane sound sources, significantly these blaring from radios, public handle programs, vehicles, church buildings, mosques, megaphones and factories. All artificial sounds at the moment should cease and make room for the sounds of the ocean in the course of the one month of communal reflection and renewal. Even fishing in lagoons should cease throughout this era, to permit aquatic life to recuperate.

In keeping with Ga oral custom, the celebration of Hↄmↄwↄ dates again centuries. It’s the finest identified and celebrated Ga competition and an important a part of conventional Ga tradition. The identify Hɔmɔwɔ interprets as “to hoot at starvation” (hↄmↄ means starvation and wↄ means hoot). The competition marks the shift from the lean season of shortage to the season of bounty, a second of introspection, and promotes sociality. Its intention is to revitalise the social, political, and non secular lives of Ga cities in Accra.

Regardless of its historical heritage, Hɔmɔwɔ’s custom of a peaceable interlude within the metropolis has develop into more and more related to clashes between the Ga Conventional Council and Christian church buildings that wish to proceed worshipping of their typical “noisy” method.

As an ethnomusicologist who can also be a Ga native, I’m conducting analysis into some components of the Hɔmɔwɔ competition as a part of my doctoral studies. I’ve additionally beforehand printed on the competition. My findings recommend that the Ga code is about greater than upsetting battle or settling scores. I argue that the ritual code of silence presents Ga communities with the chance for introspection as a result of it invitations them to deal with their indigenous notions of sound, silence, noise, and even loss of life.

It’s, to borrow from anthropologist Victor Turner , a frame inside which Ga society is ready to examine itself.

The Sea and Hɔmɔwɔ

“In Ga metaphor”, because the outstanding sociolinguist Kropp Dakubu notes

the Ga persons are often linked with the ocean.

Certainly, because the background of Ga every day life and contemplation, the ocean’s on a regular basis drone sound serves as a psycho-social hedge in opposition to the socioeconomic and political pressures from uptown. Anyone who’s acquainted with life on the beachfront is aware of that one of many taken-for-granted on a regular basis sonic experiences is the regular drone sound from the ocean waves.

In present-day cosmopolitan Accra nevertheless, listening to the ocean has assumed the standing of a once-in-a-year sonic deal with for the seven Ga residential areas on the town’s shoreline. Banning artificial sounds and foregrounding the ocean subsequently paves the best way for Ga cities to revive the prominence of the sounds of the ocean. It additionally permits Ga cities reminiscent of La, Teshie, and Tema to broaden their musical boundaries and invoke hardly ever heard Hↄmↄwↄ music genres reminiscent of kpa and/or kpashimↄ that elevate foot stomping and thumping over acquainted musical devices.

Kpashimↄ performances and songs for example, are completely vocal, unaccompanied by any musical instrument, and in a call-and-response format. Textually and musically, the songs are made up of repeated phrases which have iconic relationships with present points, making it simpler for the listener to observe the story strains.

By invoking Kpashimↄ, Ga communities reminiscent of Teshie additionally rework their alleys and streets into efficiency grounds, and automobiles transfer with nice issue as a result of performers have taken over the area. In some instances, Ga cities block streets from car use in order that Hɔmɔwɔ music teams can carry out their songs freely.

Hↄmↄwↄ helps Ga folks to relive the sonic relationship that existed between them and the ocean. Its celebrations function a metaphor to critique the cosmopolitan metropolis’s emergent tradition of noise-making, give consideration to speech and songs produced for the festive season, and in the end heal the group.

Certainly, Hↄmↄwↄ makes life within the metropolis complete in that for eleven months of residing in a jarring milieu of metropolis sounds, there may be all of the sudden a symbolic quiet – the sort that enables for ritually acceptable sounds to thrive. However a month later, Accra returns to its peculiar on a regular basis lifetime of unbridled noise-making, of individualism, nervousness, workaholism, and materialism.

By the use of conclusion I recommend that, opposite to the general perception that the ban on noise-making is a trouble to be endured fairly than to be loved, making method for the ocean in the course of the one-month Ga Hↄmↄwↄ competition within the cosmopolitan, nationwide capital of Ghana, restores folks to psycho-social sanity.