Vuvuzelas, a true story
I was not going to write about this. As you can tell from this site there are so many more pertinent issues. The Tea Party takeover in the US and what it will mean for all of us. The continued prejudice heaped upon Homosexuals throughout Africa. Our own continuing woes regarding crime. I would be the first to argue that my topic is perhaps not the most pertinent issue to South Africans. But who then would argue the case of our dear Vuvuzela (Herein after at times lovingly referred to as the “Vuvu”)?
“Make a difference not just noise” is the theme of WoZela. An initiative I was made aware of by a an American friend nogal. The idea is really simple: Use your Vuvuzela to make something “useful”. An effort supported by artists,“the win win group” and “Leftfield – Beyond Advertising” Whoever those three are… The links for “Leftfield” and “the win win group” on the Wozela site don’t work. If you google “the win win group” info does come up but the absence of a search bar on their site makes it difficult to discover what the link between them and Wozela is exactly. Don’t even try googling “Leftfield”. And there isn’t so much as a picture of anyone on the Wozela site. Well, except for models donning Vuvuzela earings. Also search all you want, but there is no mention or indication of any kind of who the “local craftsmen” are who will get the proceeds from Vuvu mutilation.
Now let me just say that this is just the final straw.
What I mean is that my contempt of Vuvu naysayers was not sparked by the Wozela site. It is just that of late, being abroad, I have found myself to suddenly be a spokesperson for all things South African. Because “you’re African and from Africa right?”, right? To that end, with the world cup fast approaching, I had done my best to inform and educate about the then still mythical Vuvuzela (and of-course assuring all and sundry of their safety). However after the world cup I found myself constantly needing to come to the defense of the Vuvu. I would say I am from South Africa and every third or fourth person I would meet would look at me as if to say “Where is my apology?”.
Profanity is a regarded as an indication of lower class but sometimes it is merely an accurate response. Now, this is a respectable site comprised of serious discourse but if it were not I would show you why by reiterating my immediate response.
I must say living abroad (yes I do enjoy the odd toot of my own horn, excuse the pun) changes ones’ perspective somewhat on the whole notion of “open mindedness”. Nonetheless I thought, “Foreigners”, they always want to put down what they don’t understand about “us”. Until I realised this was a South African initiative open to the world. Okay.
Whilst it would be hard for anyone not to concede that our dear Vuvu is a tad noisy, to concur based on that alone that it has no use, is to miss a serious point on history and culture. More than that it is an indication of a lack of sensitivity to cultural diversity that cannot so easily be forgiven in South Africa.
The Vuvu has been a part of South African society since time immemorial. It had it’s beginnings as a signal of battle. It’s continued use in matches of rival soccer teams then, is obvious. But even that is an aside. Even without the history lesson the Vuvu has a place in South African life. It has been synonymous with the sport of soccer since the very first local leagues. The sound of soccer in South Africa has been that of cheering and Vuvuzelas since the inception of TV in Mzansi (“South Africa” for the uninformed). I cannot recall a not hearing the sound while watching soccer, ever.
Where was the outcry during the last twenty or so years? During all the other competitions and international friendlies. The English pretend some of their top premier league teams have not played here in front of capacity crowds in the past. Through all that time there was hardly a peep. But now that we have been on the international stage everyone has an opinion. Suddenly Vuvuzelas are “useless”. It’s as if those people had jammed their ears shut to the sound of South Africa for the last twenty odd years. And now that there is a dissenting international opinion in some quarters they seize the an opportunity to trod all over our beloved horn.
It is as South African as “Pap en Vleis” and all these would-be-do-gooders would do well to acknowledge that fact. Even if the world thinks differently because perceptions of Africa are dim at best this is not a fad. This is a part of our history and culture. Like fog horns in the stands watching gridiron. Like clappers in Japan for baseball. Like the host of instruments we hear in South American soccer the Vuvuzela already has a use.