A VUVUZELA? What on earth is that? If you travel to South Africa in the next year or so, you’ll soon find out.
“What’s plastic, a metre long, brightly coloured and sounds like an elephant? It’s the vuvuzela, the noise-making trumpet of South Africa football fans, and it’s come to symbolize the sport of the country.” So begins the entry on the Fifa World Cup:
2010 Fifa World Cup, www.southafrica.info/2010/vuvuzela.htm
In 2010, South Africa will host one of the greatest sporting events in the world—the Soccer World Cup. As the country gears up for this, the humble vuvuzela has become very controversial, with many fans and players wanting it banned. But many more people say that this stadium horn, or blowing horn, has come to symbolize football (soccer) in South Africa. They cannot imagine the game without the sound of the vuvuzelas and argue that the instrument adds to a unique African atmosphere. The vuvuzela is described as “the noise-making trumpet of South Africa football fans.” Spectators use it to encourage their teams, express their joy (or disappointment) or just to show their excitement.
Initially, they were banned from the World Cup, but the ban was lifted in July 2008, and the plastic instrument with the huge buzz will be a main feature at the games. In recognition of this truly South African instrument, the South African Post Office issued a set of stamps, a commemorative cover and a miniature sheet in June 2009.
The origin of the vuvuzela is unclear but many say that they derive from the kudu horn, blown to summon African villagers to gatherings. First versions were made of tin, but by the late 1990s they had become so popular at soccer matches that a local company formed to mass-produce them in plastic. The bright colors these days reflect different local team colors; For example, black and white for the Orlando Pirates or yellow for Kaiser Chiefs.
The origin of the word “vuvuzela” is also uncertain. Some say it is a Zulu word meaing “sprinkling around”, while others say it originates form township slang related to “shower” or “sprinkle” as it showers people with sound. A fanciful saying from Africa folklore is that “A baboon is killed by a lot of noise.” During the last quarter of a match, supporters blow vuvuzelas frantically, trying to “kill off” their opponents.
Whatever…these plastic instruments with a sound like a foghorn or an elephant are shaping up to become a new part of the football experience, like it or not.
Watch a very interesting You Tube video here: