Solution to the ‘worshipainment’ menace: The ‘silent’ disco model

Monday April 22 2024

Today, there are “silent” discos, which don’t even have to be soundproofed, as the party kids get their music straight into their small earpieces without the person standing next hearing it. ILLUSTRATION | JOSEPH NYAGAH | NMG


Most Ugandans aged 100 years or less (which is about everybody) despise witchcraft (though some practise it secretly). They despise it because of the evils associated with it, such as child ritual murders, and also for the many conmen without any special powers except deceit who infest the dark profession.

It is therefore noteworthy that possibly the most popular story shared by Ugandans online this month was in praise of a witchdoctor’s exploits. The lousy story alleged that a witchdoctor in eastern Uganda had made a pastor’s wife pregnant after the “man of god”had failed in the endeavour for 10 years.

It was a lousy story, for it wasn’t reported by a professional journalist and no mainstream editor would have published it, for it had several loopholes. But the story was immensely popular because of its central plot — a pastor having his prayers answered by a witchdoctor!

Most people loved the story probably because of their intense loathing for some pastors, whom they, however, fear to denounce in public.

Like the witchdoctors’ job, the pastors’ profession has also been infested by conmen, who are giving it a bad name through anti-people practices.

Read: BUWEMBO: In Uganda it’s humour, merci buku!


The anger against some fake pastors’ conduct was recently subtly reflected in a very high-level communication that leaked to the public, indicating that there is an ongoing fight involving pastors, public health officials and police over noise pollution by self-styled pastors’ prayers powered by high-wattage loudspeakers that make life unbearable in residential areas, where people no longer get peace to rest, day or night.

The tussles have attracted the attention of the president of the republic, who, while trying to broker a compromise between the parties, has wondered if the god of the pastors is so deaf and needs to be addressed in so many decibels to hear their prayers.

It is thus understandable that the public can be so happy with an otherwise despicable witchdoctor for humiliating a pastor. And yet the poor pastor could even be a genuine one, but the online crowd doesn’t want to know. The silent suffering of the sleepless in our estates is feteing the new ally who can make a pastor feel some emotional pain.

A couple of weeks back, I attended a Rotary talk on peace delivered by a celebrated, recently retired military general. Amidst his highly cerebral talk — he refused to call it a lecture — the legend disclosed that he was planning to shift residence because of the unbearable noise made by the churches and a mosque in his neighbourhood. Yet this was after he described Uganda as peaceful and the most tolerant country among the many he has operated in.

Remarkably, the general’s confession of impending relocation was made on the night before Idd, a week or so after Easter, in one of the rare years when the Christian Lent had coincided with the Muslim Ramadhan. One wonders if there can be a meeting of minds between Christian and Muslim leaders on how to spare the public the pains associated with sound, to which someone may not be party.

Read: BUWEMBO: ‘Marehemu George’ is not welcome

As humanity waits for that rapprochement that may not be coming soon, you can, in the meantime, count on technology for some reprieve. Remember how believers worshipped during the pandemic lockdown? Online!

Because people need to meet, face, even touch, they should continue going to worship venues but without “sharing”their sound with neighbours.

Decades ago, in my student days, I frequented soundproofed discotheques in densely populated European towns. Why can’t African cities enforce such for worship places?

Today, there are “silent” discos, which don’t even have to be soundproofed, as the party kids get their music straight into their small earpieces without the person standing next hearing it.

Away from “worshipainment” (worship, pain & entertainment), the mobility industry is miles ahead in removing artificial noise from Earth. E-cars make no sound, so humanity will be saved from automotive noise in the near future.

The planet is, thus, already recapturing its original serenity from human destructiveness. I am told motorsport fans are unhappy about this, as the roar of the race-car engines is part of the thrill. Well, while spectators reject the protective earpieces at the concourse, in future as Formula E seeks to replace Formula 1, management may have to start issuing headphones that simulate the sound, which will no longer be there on the race track.

Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. E-mail:[email protected]