THE NOISE OF VUVUZELA: The Horn that Blows Dead Stadium Alive

What is the one thing you will always remember about 2010 World Cup in South Africa? Was it the mystic animal “Paul d’ Octopus,” that predicted the scores of most matches right? Or was it the introduction of “Jabulani?” Well, for most goal keepers it was Jabulani, the new ball that moves so fast and changes direction in flight like the ferlele. It was most difficult for players to control.

Maybe, for the Spaniards, it was winning the World Cup for the first time in Africa soil or what do you think? But none of these unique factors could remain in our memory for so long like the loud “Vuvuuu” sound that filled each stadium in South Africa – the noise of the Vuvuzela!

Even if you’re not a football fan, you would at least hear about the Vuvuzela or see a picture of the instrument. Vuvuzela is a long plastic horn of various sizes and colors, blown by fans to keep the stadium alive during the World Cup. Truly, some of the matches were so boring spectators could have slept off while watching. But, with the persistent deafening noise of Vuvuzela, the soul of the stadium is kept alive and active throughout each match.

The Vuvuuu sound is like hurdles of giant bees flying from one end of the stadium to another in a continuous procession. And the Vuvuzela was an object of controversy during the world cup. Players like Xavi Alonso of Spain and Cristian Ronaldo of Portugal, publicly moved that the use of the instrument be ban in all stadium. They complained that the sound affected players’ hearing and concentration during the game. Some health practitioners as well said that the noise of Vuvuzela was so much that it could damage the ear function permanently, mostly for people at close range.

But FIFA president Joseph Blatter responded by saying, “We should not try to Europeanize an African World Cup. Football in Africa is all about shouting, singing and making joyful noise – that’s the beauty of their football and we must get use to it, we’re in South Africa now.”

The irony was that most people that came to the World Cup went back to their country with a Vuvuzela. Over 80 million pieces of the arduous hornet were sold out as memorabilia. It got to the point when tourists were going about South Africa in search of where to buy the original version, which required more technique to blow. It was such a huge business success for the local manufacturers of the beautiful instrument.

Many things have been said about the Vuvuzela, whose origin could be traced to the Zulu tribe. Originally, it was an Elephant trucks carved into a horn, which the Zulu blew to alert their people to gather for a meeting or during emergencies. With the scarcity of ivory in the mid 90s, the people resorted to producing the plastic and aluminum version of the horn. And the name Vuvuzela literally means – the horn that makes the Vuvuuu sound. But according to a dealer Samson Miluboma, “Vuvuzela does not only make Vuvuuu sound, it could make other melodious sounds when blown by some skillful traditional Zulu musicians.

Mr. Miluboma said that there was some myth behind the original Vuvuzela made from the Elephant truck. Traditional medicine men used it to raise the dead. When someone died in the Zulu tribe, the medicine man came with the Vuvuzela and blew the horn into the ears of the dead and if the person did not come back to life, it was assumed the person is gone forever.

Vuvuzela is also said to be an instrument of honor, blown to extol kings and warriors of the Zulu land. It was said that Vuvuzela were prominently blown during the time of Chika the Zulu, one of the most famous King and warrior of the Zulu tribe. Today, Vuvuzela is the symbol of South African football.
Although, South Africa has handed over to us the precious instrument, Vuvuzela is now in the hands of the world. It’s blown in Europe, America, Asia and other African countries. And here in Nigeria, we’ve joyfully added it as part of our instrument to extol African football.

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