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In defence of the vuvuzela

By Farayi Mungazi
BBC Fast Track

South African fans with their vuvuzelas
The vuvuzela is unique to South African football

Cheering and painting your face are standard practice for any self-respecting football fan.

Any fan worth their salt will also know that it is up to them to make noise to create the best possible atmosphere inside the stadium.

In Europe, fans can turn a stadium into a cauldron of noise by singing, chanting and setting off flares.

In Africa, they tend to bang the drum and dance while others have little trouble whistling for 90 minutes.

In South Africa, not many people will take your football credentials seriously if you turn up at the stadium without a vuvuzela.

So why all the fuss about this plastic trumpet?

What would be the point of taking the World Cup to Africa, and then trying to give it a European feel?
BBC's Farayi Mungazi

Unique to South Africa, the vuvuzela appears to have put the wind up many people - especially in Europe.

The electrifying atmosphere generated by the ubiquitous instrument at the ongoing Confederations Cup has left many of the onlookers spell bound.

But many in Europe say the incessant blowing in the terraces is irritating and have complained that it is drowning out their TV commentators.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter revealed this week that broadcasters want the instrument banned at next year's World Cup.

But to his eternal credit, the Fifa chief also sprang to the defence of the humble trumpet, saying people must accept that it is part and parcel of football in South Africa.

"That is what African and South Africa football is all about - noise, excitement, dancing, shouting and enjoyment," said the most powerful man in world football.

I could not have put it better myself. Banning the vuvuzela would take away the distinctiveness of a South African World Cup.

It is a recognised sound of football in South Africa and is absolutely essential for an authentic South African footballing experience.

After all, what would be the point of taking the World Cup to Africa, and then trying to give it a European feel?

Let us all embrace the vuvuzela and whatever else a South African World Cup throws at us.

The fact that some in Europe find it irritating is no reason to get rid of it.


Thanks for all your comments. We received a huge response and a selection is published below. Whatever anyone says or does, the chances are the vuvuzela will sound loudly throughout the 2010 World Cup!

I think the vuvuzela is annoying. Music is said to be "an organised noise" but the vuvuzela is just noise - not organised. Oluchukwu Okonkwo, Sweden

What? They've got to be kidding. Ban the vuvuzela? If people don't like noise at the games they should consider staying home and watching the games on TV, seriously. Maria, US

I ask the question why? Because the request for the ban is unacceptable. I mean, is it possible to tell the English fans to stop shouting and chanting during football games? If you are able to do that in England, then you can go ahead with the ban in South Africa. Tony,

Though vuvuzela is uniquely South African, the sound coming out of the plastic trumpet can drive somebody nuts. Some people behind my flat in Pretoria usually blow it while watching football on television; It is very irritating to hear such loud sounds in a residential area. Ola Isaac, South Africa

Ban it! It is downright annoying! Fjido, South Africa

Let's look at it this way - say the World Cup is held in Ghana or Nigeria where we drum and sing, and the Europeans find that irritating, then what? Will fifa ban that too? To my southern brethren, I say blow you lungs out. Long live the vuvuzela. Darrel, Colombia

I am proudly and loudly South African. Our visitors must feel and enjoy football the way we do. As much as they expect to see elephants and lions, they must accept and expect the vuvuzela. I watch most of the games from the comfort of my home and if I don't hear a vuvuzela, then I don't feel like I'm watching football. Basil Malatse, Johannesburg

I am shocked that anyone in their right mind would attack our African values. When the World Cup was awarded to South Africa, everyone knew very well that drums, trumpets and whistles would be part of the game. What I do not understand is, why has no one complained about those flares and raised the issue of them being a fire hazard! Msiska , USA

Right, so I'm African (not South African), have been watching the games and have been thoroughly irritated by the loud buzzing sound. Funny thing is I only get annoyed by the sound when a goal is scored against the team I'm routing for. In other words, pray that your team plays well and you're bound not to hear the buzzzzzz. Tolu, USA

Please we are Africans and we should not be forced to behave like Europeans. We have our way of doing things here in Africa. Please when are in Rome, do as what Romans do. I perfectly agree with Farayi that the vuvuzela should not be banned, it takes away our identity as Africans. Mba Azubilla, Ghana

Vuvuzela is here to stay! like it or not. If not, then stay at home, we wont bother you so DON'T bother us! Ndumiso, Johannesburg

Got my tickets, got my vuvuzela - can't wait for my African World Cup! Greg, Cape Town

I am very surprised by South Africans who complain about the vuvuzela which has been used for many years by SA football fans. Where were they all those years? I watch football on TV and I am never irritated by vuvuzela, I hear every word said by commentators... what is the fuss about? If vuvuzela causes deafness, South Africa would be full of deaf people by now. Abigail, Pretoria

It is irritating, annoying and juvenile. It is noise for noise sake alone. The vuvuzela should be banned. Music, drums, rhythmic percussion, singing, chanting and applause are all very welcome; but the onerous, droning cacophony of the vuvuzela adds nothing to the atmosphere of the stadium. Ban it! Hadi Safmonadem, Senegal

I don't see the need for people to complain about the vuvuzela, it's who we are as South Africans. "Blow them!" Craig, Johannesburg

Vuvuzela's shouldn't be banned because they show our uniqueness as Africans and it would be meaningless to have the World Cup in South Africa without embracing our African culture. Let the world have a feel of the African feel to the game of football! Viva Vuvuzela and Viva South Africa! Don Mwayi Masinga, Malawi

It is the most annoying thing ever, even worse than the BBC commentators. And if people all over the world switch off because of it then Africa can say goodbye to the World Cup. Fifa don't like poor viewing figures. Joe, England

The South Africans are unique with their vuvuzela, just like the Nigerians are known with their trumpets and drums. Please, leave them alone with their vuvuzela. We are okay with it. Chima Ukaegbu, Nigeria.

This instrument has great nuisance value, and should be banned outright. Failing that, its use should be restricted to the confines of the stadium. Vuvuzela supporters are in the minority and should not dictate to the majority. Mahmood, South Africa

I own a vuvuzela, don't particularly like it, but it is an essential part of SA football since the fall of apartheid. Our broadcasters have never had a problem with it, the commentary on TV is always perfect. The European broadcasters are just being petty and want to impose their "standards" on us. How European is a World Cup held in Africa supposed to be? Bongani Njoli, Cape Town

As sure as the ball is round and Table Mountain is flat, the vuvuzela will be banned from all 2010 games except those of hosts South Africa, and only in certain sections (i.e. behind the goal) in all other games. It is inconceivable to expect thousands of fans from all over the world to arrive here next year, having spent thousands of Euros, dollars and pounds, only to be blasted deaf by someone sitting behind you who claims his "heritage". This is simply a question of tolerance and common sense. Thomas Knemeyer, Cape Town

I do not agree with Farayi. Yes, football is a time to party and have a carnival like atmosphere, as a fan of a team that plays music for all 90 minutes, (Nigeria) I feel this vuvuzela is not musical - it is very irritating to the ear and I for one have to mute my TV while watching the Confederations Cup. If the vuvuzela is unique to South Africa, then I suggest they confine it to their own games. The vuvuzela may be a South African thing but it is definitely not African, it is very un-African to irritate your guest and this vuvuzela is a very irritating instrument. Oludayo O Ogun, Germany

Farayi is right! The Vuvuzela is a matter of pride (and religion) for some of us on the African continent and we will not allow our enjoyment of a once-in-lifetime event be overshadowed by someone watching the games from their living room in Europe. You just have to come and join us next year and I assure you 100% that 100% of all foreign fans (including those from Europe) will go back with a Vuvuzela in their bag because they will have been electrified by this little plastic trumpet! Isaac Kagula, Zambia

I don't think that vuvuzela horns should be banned, they are the South African way of celebrating football and good for them. The noise however, is intensely irritating for TV viewers and indeed, some commentators. I'm sure that when TV audience figures drop the advertisers will get involved and have the horns banned anyway. So get rid of it from the live feed and most will be happy. Paul, UK

The noise makes watching the football unbearable. If it prevails at the World Cup, only avid fans will watch and the casual audience will be lost. However, instead of banning it, isn't there a technology that will filter it out. I have begun to watch so many games and not lasted more than 10 minutes.Tom Heywood, UK

If people are at risk of having their hearing damaged by attending matches then Fifa could find itself facing lawsuits for millions - they must consider that argument surely. I would like to start an email petition - could you suggest a person or email address of someone in Fifa that could be used to copy every 100th entry in a circulated petition list? Vuvuzelas will in my view damage the memory of the 2010 World Cup. Ever since I first heard them I hated the sound with a passion. My wife is very borderline in her interest of football and was driven from the sitting room by the infernal drone. Charlie Varley, Cape Town

There is no way you can just come and rob people of their own pride and customs. If you don't know it, learn more about it. Surely they have more irritating things like name calling our African players back in Europe. Viva Vuvuzela! Eddie Rusberg, Namibia

As a South African I agree that it should stay but I just wish that the fans would use a little discretion in using it. Blowing it at full tilt from kick-off to the final whistle does get annoying. Leon, Germany

I agree, it is time for an African World Cup, it might be different from a European, South American or Asian World Cup, but that's the point, not to make it the same, but to make it unique. The vuvuzela is unique, although you might find fans bringing their vuvuzelas home with them and playing them on the terraces of Anfield and Old Trafford in 2011! Peter Newton, UK

When in Rome, do as what Romans do. I agree with Farayi the vuvuzela should not be banned, it takes away our identity as Africans. Moses Jeza, Zimbabwe

Irritating sound, that adds nothing to the coverage of the Confederations cup. Get rid of it before it ruins the World Cup! Rick, UK

I never liked the concept of the vuvuzela, but after reading all these stiff upper lip arrogant comments i am arming my entire family with one! Learn to enjoy self - let your hair down - i dare you! Bruce, Cape Town

During the African Cup of Nations in Ghana last year, a good number of us had vuvuzelas and we blew our lungs out. Trust me, I'll be in South Africa with my trusted ghanaian vuvuzela and I will blow my lungs out. Was at a game in stuttgart recently, and I was the only one cheering wildly so after a while, I stopped. I simply went with the flow of clapping. My advice for the Europeans, get yourselves some vuvuzelas and start practicing. you'll need it. Nii Armah Tagoe, Accra, Ghana

The vuvuzela is far less annoying than listening to fans in England chanting abuse at the fans of their opponents for the duration of a match! Adrian Scarlett, Liverpool, UK

I'm a Cameroonian and have always been irritated by the monotonous drumings from Nigerian fans, and this vuvuzela from South Africa is worst. But I will not like to have it banned. Let the South Africans have their fun. Let the Europeans exercise some tolerance. Viva World Cup 2010 Nkatok, Germany

Seriously the noise from the vuvuzela should be curtailed a bit. Man we could hardly hear the man on the TV. Drums are African, dancing is African and whistles are African - go for it but tone down the vuvuzela please. Q Mosher, Zambia

I heard a european commentator call the vuvuzela annoying. The choice between rich, vibrant African sounds(vuvuzela), and vulgar songs that we hear across the terraces of europe (racist chants) is an easy one. Once these hypocrites can deal with the monkey chants in their own back garden, then; and only then, should they consider stymying the expressions of joy and cameraderie that they see on our African lawns. Tunde, Essex, UK



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see also
Fifa to discuss vuvuzela future
18 Jun 09 |  African
World Cup: One year to go
11 Jun 09 |  Africa
Mbeki makes World Cup vow
24 Oct 06 |  African
Fifa to give away free tickets
17 Jun 09 |  African
What is the Confederations Cup?
12 Jun 09 |  Internationals


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