I really don’t understand the big hoo-hah over the blowing of trumpets (known locally as vuvuzela’s) at the FIFA Confederations Cup matches currently on the go, at various stadiums around the northern half of South Africa.
I was at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg last night, where I’m working as a Venue Manager providing support for the Media-IT and Broadcast network, and had the privilege of witnessing the sheer ecstasy and unbridled admiration of the South Africans supporting their team affectionately known as Bafana Bafana. Accompanying the wild gyrations and joyous singing of the fans, was the unmistakable sounds of the vuvuzela, in varying degrees of loudness. There is no doubt that the sound it emits is loud, shrill even, but when blown by elated fans in unison, it has a hypnotic tone that screams “come join the party.”
However, there have been complaints by some grumpy members of the public about the noise it makes. These complaints seem to emanate from those people who have just heard the sounds over the television or radio; they have not actually been in a stadium surrounded by hundreds of singing, vuvuzela-blowing fans to experience its magical effect and the euphoric atmosphere it helps create. Thus far, I have heard of just one complaint from a soccer player; Xabi Alonso, playing for Spain. He says that FIFA should ban it (the vuvuzela) because it is not a nice sound to hear. Apparently that didn’t affect his team from thumping New Zealand, five goals to nil on the opening night of the Confederations Cup tournament. Now imagine if I could get every sound I didn’t like banned; Beyonce, Backstreet Boys, The Pussycat Dolls and a host of other pop stars, would become just bad memories.
There have been absurd claims by some that the vuvuzela is a South African, cultural phenomenon, but this is so far from the truth that it needs to be dismissed with utter contempt. The vuvuzelais not an artifact of African culture; it is just an instrument that helps express the pure joy being felt by a soccer fan, most of whom happen to be Black. If you were at the game last night between South Africa and the hapless New Zealanders, then you would have witnessed scores of White South African fans happily blowing the vuvuzela, albeit with some difficulty. At the after-match press conference last night FIFA President, Sepp Blatter summed it up quite nicely when he said:
“It’s a local sound and I don’t know how it is possible to stop it. I always said that when we go to South Africa, it is Africa. It’s not western Europe.” and “It’s noisy, it’s energy, rhythm, music, dance, drums. This is Africa. We have to adapt a little”
The vuvuzela is here to stay. Visitors to the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup next year, are in for a treat; a most amazing assault on the senses and an experience in pure joy. But the vuvuzela will require some stamina, an open mind and a willingness to have fun. I recommend that you pick up one at your nearest sports outlet and start practicing.