Event Title

Musical Sounds and Silences: Violence, Contested Meanings and Spaces in Accra, Ghana

Start Date

12-1-2012 3:30 PM

End Date

12-1-2012 5:00 PM

Description

In May 1998, a number of Ga youth raided the Lighthouse Chapel Pentecostal church at Korle Bu in the middle of their service, beating members of the organization and seizing their musical instruments. This violent act was part of the growing contestation over the one-month ban on noise making in Accra, a crucial observance and important phase leading to the Ga Homowo (“hooting at hunger”) harvest festival required by Ga traditional authorities to appease deities and spiritual cleansing. From the perspective of Christian worshipers, including Ga members of the congregation, observance of this annual requirement amounts to blasphemy and an attack on religious freedom since it denies them the ability for musical performance during worship. Through closer examination of this case study, this discussion investigates the intersection of music and musical instruments; Ga spatial, cultural and economic marginalization; the negotiation, contestation and meaning of urban sacred space; and violence to uncover the multiple meanings and perspectives at the nexus of music, religion, ethnic identity, noise, urbanization and conflict in the megacity of Accra. Particular emphasis will be paid to music's role as a signifier of religious and cultural difference, and the aesthetic-symbolic medium through which conflict is performed.

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Jan 12th, 3:30 PM Jan 12th, 5:00 PM

Musical Sounds and Silences: Violence, Contested Meanings and Spaces in Accra, Ghana

In May 1998, a number of Ga youth raided the Lighthouse Chapel Pentecostal church at Korle Bu in the middle of their service, beating members of the organization and seizing their musical instruments. This violent act was part of the growing contestation over the one-month ban on noise making in Accra, a crucial observance and important phase leading to the Ga Homowo (“hooting at hunger”) harvest festival required by Ga traditional authorities to appease deities and spiritual cleansing. From the perspective of Christian worshipers, including Ga members of the congregation, observance of this annual requirement amounts to blasphemy and an attack on religious freedom since it denies them the ability for musical performance during worship. Through closer examination of this case study, this discussion investigates the intersection of music and musical instruments; Ga spatial, cultural and economic marginalization; the negotiation, contestation and meaning of urban sacred space; and violence to uncover the multiple meanings and perspectives at the nexus of music, religion, ethnic identity, noise, urbanization and conflict in the megacity of Accra. Particular emphasis will be paid to music's role as a signifier of religious and cultural difference, and the aesthetic-symbolic medium through which conflict is performed.