Nov
02
2008
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2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa

Vuvuzela Ready For World Cup Action
In South Africa, stadium noise is vastly different to the sounds in more established footballing nations – mainly because of the vuvuzela, a long plastic horn.
The origins of the vuvuzela are a mystery bur it has taken just a short time for it to become an integtal part of the South African football scene. The long plas-ic horn probably came to the country just a few years ago along with other cheap trinkets from the East but it is certainly now a firm part of the culture. It may be a relatively new phenomenon but the blaring of the vuvuzela and the cacophony of noise it produces has become synonymous with football in South Africa.
FIFA, taking a break from some of the more serious decision-making around the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa, recently announced that it would allow this “musical instrument” into stadiums for the tournament, putting to rest the allegedly serious concern of some South African officials who had apparently been repeatedly asking world football’s governing bodv for assurances that the vuvuzela would be okayed for FIFA World Cup action.
THE BLAST OF AN ELEPHANT
That this colourful plastic tube would command such prominence among other priorities is amusing but FIFA’s go-ahead will draw a mixed reaction from fans, particularly those on the receiving end of its high-tone barrage. It is fun to blow, particularly for kids whose stamina is tested by the puffing of their cheeks and the gusto with which they exhale to create a volume that would only be permitted in the confines of a noisy football stadium. It is no fun, however, to be on the receiving end with eardrums assailed by the tuneless noise.
The vuvuzela produces a sound that those sympathetic to the instrument romantically claim is like the blast of an elephant. To be honest, it is much closer to a foghorn.
In South Africa, stadium noise is vastly different to the sounds in more established footballing cultures. Fans rarely sing, so the din of a stadium rises in line with the action on the pitch, the shrieking of fans reaching a crescendo when their team come close to goal or find the back of the net. The vuvuzela has added to the atmosphere of the domestic league and proven to be a noisy way of supporting the national side, Bafana Bafana, particularly in the absence of singing from the fans or even the drumbeat so prevalent elsewhere on the continent.
That is why, perhaps, officials were so keen to get FIFA’s blessing to allow them into the stadium. Given recent form, maybe the belief is that Bafana Bafana will need all the help they can possibly get when they go into action at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ finals.
LIKE A SHOWER HEAD
Vuvuzelas are made from different but brilliantly coloured plastics and are
generally just short of one metre long. They are blown like one would a trumpet, but they take time to master as the lungs and lips find common coordination.
The Zulu word for “making noise” is vuvuzela but there are those who claim that the instrument’s name comes from slang from the black townships for the word “shower” because it “showers people with music” or looks like a shower head.
Communication by means of a horn is part of Africa’s culture, however, as villages used to blow on a kudu horn to summon people together. The kudu is a magnificent antelope common in southern Africa, with horns that bend and twist into a distinctive form. There was one fan, a supporter of Mamelodi Sundowns, who used to blow a kudu horn at South African Premier Soccer League matches – it made a dull, deep almost earthy noise – but even he has since been blasted away by the vuvuzelas.
FIFA has wanted that it will take away permission for the vuvuzela if the instrument is used as a weapon by errant spectators. Certainly, South African manufacturers have already been asked to make them to a maximum of 100 grams to tender them ineffective for those who may want to use them with the wrong intent.
It will be interesting to sec what the world mates of it all in 2010. It is true that a stadium full of horn-blowing supporters produces skin-tingling excitement. It can be an incredible sound. But blown repeatedly solo, out of tune and devoid of rhythm, it can be a curse, too.
Just like the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ spread La ola, the “Mexican wave”, all around the world (even though it originated at baseball games in the USA), so the vuvuzela is on the brink of colonising the globe. Could it be that South Africa’s legacy will be the foghorn blare of this tuneless tube of plastic? We wait with bated breath … and, of course, earplugs!