The Vuvuzela "Love it or Hate it"

The Vuvuzela

Love it or hate it

There is no middle ground

Mention the word vuvuzela and you either get a broad smile and a thumbs up or a barrage of abuse about how noisy it is or that it should be banned from all sports fields and public places.

The vuvuzela was described by a overseas newspaper just prior to the Confederations Cup [a small tournament between continental champions that functions as a World Cup warm-up] as "a unique brightly coloured elongated trumpet that makes a sound like a herd of elephants approaching", the vuvuzela has become the biggest controversy at this summer's Confederations Cup

South African Fans argue that it is an essential way to express their national identity. But many players and TV commentators have called for it to be banned at the World Cup. Liverpool's Xabi Alonso, playing for Spain in the current tournament, said: "They make a terrible noise and it's not a good idea to have them on sale outside the grounds. Here's a piece of advice for FIFA (football's world governing body) - try to ban them." (But let’s remember that European soccer players are such babies)

Perhaps for those that have not heard of or seen a Vuvuzela before, I should give a brief explanation of what we are actually talking about.

The Vuvuzela is a plastic horn that you blow through, its, approximately one metre in length and most commonly blown by fans at football matches in South Africa, although recently it could be heard in two Super 14 matches held at Orlando stadium, Soweto. The origin of the name is not clear some saying it originates from the Zulu for “making noise,” from the “vuvu” sound it makes, or from township slang related to the word for “shower.”

Even the South African Association of Audiology have gotten in on the act and have warned that vuvuzelas can damage hearing with a recent article in a Health and Safety magazine stating that earplugs should be handed out at all stadiums as the legal DBI is 85 and vuvuzela’s can reach up to 140. South African supporters however are sticking to their horns with one fan voicing his opinion by saying. "This is our voice. We sing through it. It makes me feel the game."

While researching the history of the Vuvuzela I came across this interesting information. The first popular noisemaker in football — and one that probably made a sound to make even a vuvuzela recoil……….was the wooden rattle in Britain. ( I had one and got my finger caught in it at Wembley stadium while watching the amateur cup final there many moons ago) Appearing as early as 1900, the rattle became the ever-present din at football matches in Britain after the First World War. The Rattles had bee popular during the war as a way of warning people of gas attacks, with their simple noise making capacity saved many lives. Holding the handle and spinning the rattle made a loud clacking noise, and this was soon transported to the terraces. The rattle eventually fell out of favour because of its noise and fans started to become annoyed with the noise (could this have been one of the root causes of soccer hooliganism in the UK ?). The vuvuzela is a recent addition to the game In South Africa, although some fans argue that its roots are steeped in African tradition and can be traced back to when the Kudu Horn was blown to summon villagers to meetings.”

The vuvuzela probably made its first appearance 1992, being used at South African football matches, by supporters of AmaZulu F.C. Supporters made the horns out of discarded tin cans, and the use spread wildly, to the joy of many and the irritation of some. It was however not until the 2000’s and with South Africa deciding to bid for the 2010 World Cup on the cards that the little known vuvuzela was thrust into the spotlight and become a fixture at local soccer matches.

The vuvuzela became a mass produced commercialized phenomenon, this being possible from a grant given by SAB Miller (the giant South African brewer) to Neil van Schalkwyk’s company Masincedane Sport in 2001 and with the help of a plastics factory they began to mass produce a cheap plastic version. By 2005 the commercial potential of the horn was clear and that by 2010 it would be Football supporters “weapon of choice” In 2008, FIFA ruled that vuvuzela’s would be allowed in stadiums for the 2010 World Cup. The debate for FIFA was not that it made a noise but rather that it would be used by companies to have an advertising presence at the game or even as a weapon.

Is its sound melodious? To some its sound has been described as

  • A monotonous swarm of bees.
  • That giant swarm of insects
  • The most annoying noisemaker
  • Satan’s instrument
  • Annoying and distracting

But to others like Mzion Mofokeng it has a place in the sports arena “When we started the vuvuzela, there was so much sadness in our country in those years and it brought so much joy. All of a sudden people would go to the stadiums because of this instrument that was able to get fans on their feet and start cheering. For a few hours, they would forget about the reality in our society and enjoy the sound.

Perhaps the biggest problem regards the vuvuzela is not the noise per say but the length of time that it is actually blown during the game, most fans in other countries correlate their noise to what's going on, on the pitch, but it is typical in South Africa for fans to blow the horn for the entire match. Not surprisingly, the monotone sound becomes far more grating in 45-minute doses.

Be that as it may the vuvuzela is here to stay we will be hearing it during all the 64 world cup games and I would like to leave you with these words from South Africa’s temporary President Mr, Sepp Blatter of the “Interim Government of FIFA”. “I always said that when we go to South Africa, it is Africa. It's not Western Europe. It's noisy; it's energy, rhythm, music, dance, drums. This is Africa. We have to adapt a little. “You said it Mr. President”

While Sepp has indicated that the vuvuzela will be allowed to be used in stadiums during the SWC there has been debate over the last few days that it may in fact be banned. It seems that after the opening game FIFA will decide on whether or not to ban the vuvuzela outright or to hand out ear protection to fans who want it at the games. Hopefully they go for the second option as I believe that there will be a riot of they decide on banning them.

Latest news that I read yesterday (1/6/2010)

FIFA are looking into legal implications of a recent study that showed the noise from the vuvuzela could impair hearing; a spokesman said “we may have to supply earplugs at stadiums”

Some other uses that I have thought of that you could use a Vuvuzela for after the world cup.

1) Walking stick

2) Petrol Funnel

3) Hearing aid

4) Large straw

5) Baseball bat

6) For Star war fans stick in a torch and it can be used as a “Lite saber”

7) Really crap telescope

8) Plastic flower vase.

9) Beer Funnel

Any other ideas??


The Village idiot

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