Making a beautiful noise for the beautiful game
Guest Blog Post by Jade Scully
Vuvuzelas characterised South Africa’s Soccer World Cup. We knew they would. We also knew (from previous experience) that they wouldn’t go down well with many of the European soccer playing nations who prefer a more (ahem) civilised atmosphere. Despite various protests and pleas for the mighty trumpet to be banned, Fifa stuck by us and let revellers continue to blow merrily away.
Since then, New Zealand has banned vuvuzelas from the Rugby World Cup; they were banned from Wimbledon and English Premier League soccer matches and even, most shockingly, from the Tri-Nations match held at the FNB Stadium.
Not Everyone Hates the Vuvuzela
But not everyone hates the vuvuzela. There are some countries other than South Africa that appreciate its worth as a celebratory noise-maker and protest tool.
The world watched with bated breath as the 33 Chilean miners trapped beneath tonnes of rock in San Jose were brought back to the surface. They’d been trapped in the mine for 69 days, although at some stage it was expected to be as long as four months. Thanks to international cooperation, the level of which has not been seen for some time, the rescue operation raced ahead much more quickly than expected.
Vuvuzelas and the Chilean Miners
As the men were pulled slowly to the surface, and emerged blinking behind thick dark glasses to protect their eyes, crowds cheered, danced and sang, and blew vuvuzelas. Vuvuzelas were in full force again when the first miners to be released from hospital returned home. There was a carnival atmosphere in the streets as people threw confetti, blew vuvuzelas and cheered their newest national heroes.
But the African trumpet (whose origins are somewhat disputed) was not done yet. On Sunday, 17 October, 13 of the miners returned to the camp where their loved ones stayed for the duration of the drama. They returned to hold a religious service jointly led by Roman Catholic and Protestant clergy, but they weren’t the only attendees. Nearby were dozens of miners who had not been trapped underground, but who had been badly affected nevertheless.
The miners had lost their jobs and were staging a protest, complete with vuvuzelas, to draw attention to their plight. Apparently they have not been properly compensated since they lost their jobs. Fortunately for them, some of the rescued miners lent their support to the cause, and if any group is being listened to at the moment, it’s those miners.
So, vuvuzelas have been used to celebrate two of the biggest events of 2010. Not bad for a plastic trumpet that has been accused of making the most annoying sound in the world; and which has allowed researchers to get funding for a plethora of decibel tests, just to prove how justified the naysayers are.
Given that vuvuzelas are a primarily South African (and apparently Chilean) instrument, one has to wonder why the various sports regulatory bodies in other parts of the world felt the need to ban them. Surely Wimbledon’s organisers didn’t expect to be inundated by crowds with brightly coloured trumpets? Surely the English Premier League has greater crowd concerns than a handful of people with souvenir vuvuzelas from the World Cup? And SARU should definitely not have given in to pressure and banned vuvuzelas from the Tri-Nations?
Banning Vuvuzelas Smacks of Pettiness
Banning the vuvuzela smacks of pettiness and sour grapes; it’s almost like banning opposing sides from singing their team songs or booing or clapping. It’s an exaggerated reaction to something that barely merits a beep on the sporting world’s radar.
The next time the African trumpet is banned from one of Africa’s sporting stadiums; fans should gather round and trumpet until, like the tale of Jericho, the walls come down.
Jade Scully is a copywriter, blogger and online marketing enthusiast who has published her work on a series of online publications and websites including Africadventure, Entertain SA, Technifrique, The Greenery, Youdidit, Firstpage as well as Leeulekker who provide a range of travel and touring resources for Southern Africa travelers.
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