TAKE2: Blowing off some steam

The vuvuzela is symbolic of South African soccer. If Fifa was happy to give the World Cup to an African country, then everyone must deal with the consequences.

This is not a First World country hosting the World Cup, and it is not a European World Cup.
In the end, all this opposition to the vuvuzela in South African soccer reeks of cultural colonialism.

While we acknowledge that the World Cup is a world event, it’s also Africa’s chance to put its stamp on world football. If you’re going to watch soccer at Anfield, you’re going to hear off-key versions of You’ll Never Walk Alone.

And if you watch soccer at Ellis Park, then you’re going to hear vuvuzelas.

South Africans don’t go to England and tell Liverpool supporters to quit singing, so no one should come here and tell us to get rid of our vuvuzelas.

Even worse are South Africans who are so engrained with a European view of soccer that they’re opposed to the intrinsically South African soccer tradition of blowing the horn at games.

Jermaine, a Johannesburg advocate in his late 50s, took earplugs to his first soccer match. He ended up sitting between a vuvuzela champion and his runner-up, but eventually tossed the earplugs away, and started making subtle movements towards what might have been a dance. Even he realised that the vuvuzela was fundamental to the atmosphere at the game.

The chaotic din of the controversial horn is something that you just have to make peace with and accept. Seated next to a vuvuzela-blowing fan, our Kazakh friend, Jana, was miserable throughout the Italy vs United States match.

At one point her husband, noting her misery, said: “Babe, if you can’t beat them, join them.”

He bought her a vuvuzela after the game and by the time the next match rolled around, she was trumpeting along with the best of them.

Though vuvuzelas can be deafening at the start of a game, they usually die down once the action begins. Fans start to pay serious attention to the game play, and it’s only the odd kid or drunken lout who continues to trumpet incessantly.

The vuvuzela ruckus has crossed borders and oceans. There are currently 52 vuvuzela-related groups on Facebook, some in foreign languages. The biggest group, a South African one named “Ban the Vuvuzela”, has comments from Italian, German, Swiss and Turkish vuvuzela-haters.

Comments against the vuvuzela range from “Screw the ou that made that thing,” to “Dis moer irriterend!” (It’s bloody irritating) and “I had to watch Italy vs Brazil on mute.”

But then there are the more positive comments. “The vuvuzela is what will set 2010 apart from every other World Cup in history. It will make it distinctly African and give it a special flavour!” says one commenter, while another notes: “The barmy army is way more irritating than the vuvuzelas.”

“Dude, honestly, if it’s too loud, go support your favourite golf pro. There won’t be any noise there.”

But watch out world. At every stadium, you’re bound to see more than a few foreign vuvuzela-blowers. And you can be sure, come 2010, the tourists are going to go home with a soccer souvenir.

Faranaaz Parker

Faranaaz Parker

Faranaaz Parker is a reporter for the Mail & Guardian. She writes on everything from pop science to public health, and believes South Africa needs carbon taxes and more raging feminists. When she isn't instagramming pictures of her toddler or obsessively checking her Twitter, she plays third-person shooters on Xbox Live.
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