Sport

Vuvuzelas to boost World Cup spirit

Zahira Kharsany

Soccer fans may not only need a ticket to see their favourite teams play in the 2010 World Cup -- earplugs should also come in handy.

Soccer fans may not only need a ticket to see their favourite teams play in the 2010 World Cup—earplugs should also come in handy.

Fifa confirmed on Friday that South African soccer fans will be allowed to bring vuvuzelas to matches at the 2010 World Cup.

The world soccer governing body has expressed concerns that the instrument could be used as a weapon by hooligans or by businesses wanting to advertise in World Cup stadiums. Fifa has strict rules limiting advertising within stadiums.

Permission was granted after a lengthy debate between Fifa officials and World Cup organisers, who managed to convince Fifa that the instruments were essential for an authentic South African soccer experience.

Trumpets can add either eloquence or ear-shattering noise to a musical piece, and the same can be said of the vuvuzela—a coloured plastic trumpet about a metre long that has become synonymous with soccer matches in South Africa, from school games to big derbies.

Vuvuzelas usually feature prominently in the spirited Sowetan derby between soccer giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. Chiefs supporters are decked out in yellow, armed with yellow vuvuzelas, while Pirates supporters carry either black or white vuvuzelas.

Vuvuzelas have, however, been banned at rugby matches at Ellis Park and at some cricket grounds across the country.

Some say the name “vuvuzela” is said to have originated from the isiZulu word for ‘making noise”. Others say the name relates to the ‘vuvu” sound it makes when blown.

Another theory is that it comes from the township slang for ‘shower” as it resembles a showerhead or showers those unfortunate enough to be close by with sound.

The vuvuzela was originally made out of tin, but is now locally manufactured in plastic.

Blowing a vuvuzela requires a tricky bit of lip stretching and a lot of lung strength. Getting it right generates a sound similar to an elephant trumpeting, or a foghorn. Getting it wrong in a stadium jam-packed with roaring fans may earn you nothing more than laughs and pitying looks.

It is believed that the blowing of a vuvuzela can be traced back to African history when a kudu horn was blown to call people to meetings. Also adding to its appeal is the saying that a baboon is killed by a lot of noise, so the last quarter of any match can see fans blowing frantically on their vuvuzelas to try to “kill off” their opponents.

About 20 000 vuvuzelas were reportedly sold in May 2004 when it was announced that South Africa would host the 2010 World Cup.

It is believed that when former president Nelson Mandela was invited to the announcement of the host country, he ordered hundreds of the trumpets to be taken to Zurich, Switzerland. In video clips one can see Sepp Blatter as well as South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel tooting on their vuvuzelas.

Another interesting piece of South African soccer paraphernalia is the makarapa—a decorated miner’s hat. Soccer fans spend hours adorning their makarapa with the colours and logos of their favourite team.

Completing the South African soccer experience, along with the miner’s hat and vuvuzela, are large pairs of sunglasses as well as posters and banners dedicated to the team—and, of course, colourfully painted faces and bodies.

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