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Opinions of Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Columnist: Adorsu-Djentuh, Franklin Yayra

Ghana, A Nation of Noise Makers.

Environmental pollution is not just limited to the air, water and the sanitary environment of our enclaves. Noise is one of the pollutions that can create disharmony and dissonance in our physical and mental environments. Sound and noise pollution can pose a serious health hazard to the human being but it is the least of our worries as a nation. As poor as we are, our headache and focus are where our next meals will be coming from, and not an environmental issue perceived to be of negligible effect that has no direct correlation with our immediate survival.
Though we have the EPA, and the Assemblies with environmental and by-laws that stipulates the acceptable level of noise within the day and night in the city, but they seems to be of no enforceable value. I guess those laws are rather kept for people who want to do academic research to read and not for enforcement. A state with unenforceable laws is as good as a state of anarchy. Research has shown that exposure to constant or high levels of noise can cause countless adverse health effects such as stress related illnesses, high blood pressure, hearing loss, sleep disruption, childbirth defects etc. But I tell you, Ghanaians love noise especially the city dwellers.
My brother Remeo Koku Dowokpor had the cause to complain in an article about how some preachers on our street causes a lot of nuisance and pollution with their activities to the chagrin of the pedestrian. To buttress his well-articulated point, I think the noise level in the city is the least of the worries for the Metropolitan assembly and the EPA. The intensity at which the city gets saturated with ear-splitting noise on daily basis is enough to awaken a sleeping whale. Noise, as inconsequential as we may consider it, is one of the major causes of ill-health and hypertensive related sicknesses in Ghana today. Already we are struggling with a very unhealthy lifestyle of eating late at night, drinking enough alcohol and smoking indiscriminately in public places. Our work and sometimes laziness does not permit us even a little exercise to burn a bit of the calories. As if that is not enough of a burden on our health, we subject ourselves to excessive noise level beyond what our systems can accommodate there by increasing our chance of becoming susceptible to hypertension and deafness.
In Accra you are usually awaken by different kind of noises. The best part of your sleep is stolen when you have a mosque nearby. A call for dawn prayer is an automatic call for both Muslims and Christians to rise. No group is spared; you must surrender your sleep to support your Muslim folks in prayers. After they finish and when you are about to heave for a respite, then the brothers in Christ on megaphones, picks up the baton on the local street with their usual “onua sakyra wo adwuen” platitude. You have no choice but to join the early risers even if you are somebody whose sleep travels in to the day. After the dawn session which I consider as the curtain raiser and a teaser for the tonnes of pollutions the day has in stock, the real show then awaits you when you step out there in to the street and the main business district of the city.
You are now greeted with cacophony of different renditions, the ones that can destabilize your system for the day, especially if you are alien to the kind of noises you are greeted with. You are lead in to another phase of worship, praises and exhortation by the preacher man on the street. They mount huge speakers on the pavements with their collection bowls on a table in front, ready for the day’s sales. They tune their volumes to a decibel that can possibly restore a deaf ear. I sometimes wonder if the loudness get people to repent or it is just a promotional gimmick to increase sales. And if truly their loudness promotes high sales, then you can imagine the length they can go to maximise profit at the expense of our eardrums. After enduring all the psychological torture in the name of evangelism, you are then ushered in to the sanctuary of the high tech local marketers with their gibberish chants “eye kpromotion, kpromotion, original memory card, card reader, pen drive eye kpromotion. Kpromotion buy one get one free eye kpromotion” everyday “eye kpromotion” when at all will this promotion end? At the same time the lorry station PA system is blaring its advertisement for passengers “suhumsam suhumsam” “ Asaman, Kade, Bodua, Adeiso Akwadum. Anyinam” “ wodzo woyi wogbor Aflao Lome Dabala Junction” meanwhile the record seller with his giant speakers is also making a strident effort to impress you with his latest record. You move a little bit from them and you are chased by the mobile record seller with his vehicle stuffed with speaker to make sure you don’t get a respite. The medicine man is also waiting patiently for you in the bus to convince you with his cock and bull stories to patronise a medicine that can cure countless number of sicknesses. Even if you are lucky to have the medicine man absent for that day, trust the trotro driver to unleash his 18th century acoustic gramophone on you. You will be subjected to all kind of morning shows and music you have the least of appetite for. The nearby church is also having a hot afternoon session of prayers in tongues and casting demons on loudspeakers. The yoghurt sellers then comes around with their tooting horns “poonkupoonku” to draw your attention to the fact that you need a snack to calm your nerves. All these under a hot tropical weather, where the sun stings like a bee and cuts like a razor. This continues at nights when drinking bars, night clubs and all night services gets in motion with loud bands till dawn, where the cycle continues.
Other cities like Karachi and New York which are rated as one of the noisiest cities in the world have their noises mainly emanating from factories and aircrafts. This at least brings something very profitable to them, they even do their best to control them, but we generate useless noises that we simply do nothing about. We have become a bunch of confused people walking about in a confused nation because there is little mental serenity for proper thinking or to act right. We have the penchant for noise making and we wantonly generate it, because it is a free for all society and no one cares but I certainly do care for my mental state and eardrums.
Since the EPA and the city authorities have become impotent in the discharge their duties as they are mandated by law, I suggest they outsource some of their function and powers to the Ga-Damgbe youth who have the reputation of effectively controlling noise making in the city, at least during the Homowo.

Franklin Yayra Adorsu-Djentuh