If you have been watching the world cup, you would have no doubt noticed the continuous sound of the vuvuzela buzzing all around the stadium like a swarm of bees. Does it make you want to throw your remote at the TV screen at any given opportunity – or do you welcome the sound with open ears?
Before the start of the 2010 South African World Cup many of us were more likely to ask vuvu-what? But now the whole world has picked up on the vuvuzela hype, splitting the world in half – you either love it or you hate it.
Also known as the stadium horn, soccer horn or boogieblast – the vuvuzela is a three feet long blowing horn. In South Africa it has been made popular throughout the sporting events (you would have most likely heard it in any game against South Africa). It was originally, however, introduced to children as a toy – to keep them occupied. However it wasn’t very popular (which parent is openly going to risk going insane through the possible noises from a child and a noise machine?) upon further inspection – it was decided that the creators were aiming it at the wrong target market, and instead should be pushed towards the sports fans and was made popular in the country by the 1990s.
Where did it come from?
It has been used by Mexican sports fans since the seventies, and was originally made out of tin. It is said to have been made by 55-year-old Freddie Maake, who claimed to have created the aluminium version in 1965 from an old bike horn. He said that the instrument was banned after being thought to be a dangerous weapon, which saw the introduction of the plastic horn (it has now been said that he won’t receive a penny for his creation which has now reached world-wide fame).
Although the original place originated from, seems to be in debate as common belief assumes that it is similar to the kudu which used to be blown to tell the locals of a meeting to be taken place. Another suggestion came from the Nazereth Baptist Church, who claimed that the vuvuzela was used on a pilgrimage. They claimed to have lost the vuvuzela in the 1990s when a soccer team visited the church.
Eventually it made its way from aluminium to plastic and ending up blasting out throughout the South African soccer stadiums during the 2010 World Cup, there is no doubt that it has received a great deal of hype.
When did it get so popular?
Given that the vuvuzela has been around for two decades, it has taken a while to become popular worldwide. It was brought to the world’s attention during the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, although it was originally subject to ridicule from Jon Qwelane, South African Columnist and Sports Writer, as ‘an instrument from hell’, and had apparently begged for it to be banned in time for the 2010 World Cup. FIFA also had concerns about uses of the vuvuzelas during the World Cup –being used as a weapon, and businesses could have advertised on them (which are against their regulations).
Why ban it?
There have been a lot of criticisms and complaints regarding the vuvuzela since the start of the World Cup – from being simply annoying, to affecting the game play of the footballers and even health scares. During the 2009 Confederations Cup, it was called for a ban from the Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso and the Netherlands’ Coach Bert Van Marwijk – after claiming that communication between the players was difficult if not impossible, being drowned out by the horns.
During the Cup, FIFA received a number of complaints from companies broadcasting the matches – because the listeners couldn’t hear what the commentators were saying. FIFA decided to allow the horns to the matches albeit if they are less than three feet in length (so you will be hearing it for some time yet, so you may need to get used to it).
Now many footballers, including Messi, Ronaldo and Patrice are blaming the wailing of the horns for their less-than-average game play due to lack of communication and concentration. Those watching the aired matches have also made many complaints about the constant buzzing sound in the background – some have even resorted to watching the games with the volume on mute. While the sound of the vuvuzelas haven’t been limited to just the games, but out on the streets, with many shopping centers banning them – and some football players demanding earplugs to block out the wail.
It has also been suggested that the horns, which sound reaches 127 decibels could lead to hearing loss (especially if blown closely to someone’s ear…ouch!). Fans have been urged to wear earplugs and ear muffs to drown out the noise and make the lasting effect less damaging. Doctors have also suggested that the blowing of so many vuvuzelas could lead to the spread of cold and flu germs – so perhaps keeping the anti-bacterial wash handy may be an idea.
Ah, I see – so why hasn’t it been banned?
As much as the vuvuzela has been the talk of much criticism, it has defied many and remained to not be banned at the World Cup – why? Because many still like it! The president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter has stuck up for the bullied vuvuzela, claiming that Africa has always had a ‘different rhythm’ and that they shouldn’t ban the music traditions of the country, while others have suggested that many are attempting to Europeanize the country.
The point is that the vuvuzela is part of South Africa’s identity. Chief Communications Officer of FIFA, Rich Mkhondo explained that the vuvuzela indeed has worldwide appeal. It is a way of expressing the fan’s joys of watching the game – whilst giving it the extra vibe, something which should be remembered after the tournament.
How to play a vuvuzela like a professional
The guarantee is that the vuvuzela is bound to be huge, even after the World Cup, so knowing how to play one is generally a must (and will score you some major bonus points).
- Put the narrow end between your lips.
- Direct your breath down the horn and blow!