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Tolerating the Vuvuzela

June 16, 2010

Many of us probably wouldn’t have even heard about the Vuvuzela if not for the controversy it’s been causing recently. In the last seven days, the term “Vuvuzela” has been in the news, trending on Twitter and has been a topic of conversation amongst friends, fans and families.

Have you been watching the World Cup, only to be disturbed by an annoying bee-like noise? That’s the Vuvuzela.  The Vuvuzela is a blowing horn, about three feet in length, that is often blown at football matches in South Africa. The instrument is played using the simple technique of blowing through compressed lips to create a loud, monotonous buzz, measuring about 120 decibels.

It’s a fact that the horns have been associated with permanent noise-induced hearing loss. The horns also increase the risk of spreading influenza viruses. They’ve also been blamed for drowning the sound and atmosphere of football games. They’ve been described as annoying and satanic and they’ve been compared to a deafening swarm of locusts, a goat on its way to the slaughterhouse and a giant hive full of really pissed off bees. Jon Qwelane even described the Vuvuzela as “an instrument from hell”.

Of course, all this negative feedback is coming from people who aren’t from South Africa. It’s coming from foreign football players and foreign commentators and foreign analysts and foreign coaches. FIFA has received a plethora of complaints (see proper usage of the word plethora) from European broadcasters, asking for the instrument to be banned because it drowns out the sound of the commentators. Coaches have complained that the instrument is affecting the quality of the games on the field because the players are simply unable to concentrate. I’ve even heard that the Vuvuzela is to blame for Rob Green’s horrendous blunder in the USA/England match on June 12. The poor guy was so focused on the sound of the Vuvuzela that the ball just slipped right through his fingers and into the goal. France’s nil all game with Uruguay can be blamed on the Vuvuzelas as well; thus says French national player Patrice Evra.

I sincerely hope you spotted my sarcasm in the previous paragraph. In my opinion, this is all much ado about nothing. I personally don’t find the sound annoying. In fact, I find it somewhat comforting. But that’s just my opinion. Whether or not you find it annoying is besides the point. The 2010 FIFA World Cup is being held in South Africa and the Vuvuzela is a part of the South African culture. How can you go into somebody’s homeland and demand that they get rid of a part of their culture because you don’t like it? That’s equivalent to me visiting a friend’s house and ripping down all her curtains because I think they’re ugly.

The BBC has received close to 600 complaints (since the start of the World Cup on June 11) from viewers in regards to the sound of the Vuvuzelas during coverage. The Corporation is considering a broadcast stream that filters out the noise, while maintaining game commentary.

Here’s what I have to say about all this:

The players and coaches blaming the instrument for disappointing games and poor performances need to find another scapegoat. Maybe you needed to train harder, maybe the altitude in South Africa isn’t what you’re accustomed to in your home country or maybe you’re just having a bad day. But to say that a musical instrument is the cause of lackluster football is simply preposterous. Patrice Evra needs to stop being a little bitch and play a better game, instead of blaming his suckish performance on a Vuvuzela.

Commentators and analysts who are complaining about the instrument need to stop. Personally, I hate hearing people complain; especially when it’s unnecessary. The World Cup only lasts a month; I’m sure you won’t suffer death by Vuvuzela in that time. You’re given a job to do; that job is to provide a running analysis on what’s happening on the football field, not to constantly whine about your problems.

Spectators who are complaining about the Vuvuzela need to stop. The way I see it, you have two choices – watch the World Cup or don’t watch the World Cup. Complaining about the background noise in your living room isn’t going to stop all 50,000 spectators from blowing their Vuvuzelas in South Africa. The South Africans are proud and excited that they’ve been given the honour of hosting the World Cup, allow them to celebrate.

Each country has certain things that make them unique and different from other countries. I’m a Jamaican and I’m extremely proud of my culture. I love our music, our dances, our food, our language and everything else about our culture. I expect foreigners to appreciate our culture and I’d be quite offended if someone said that Jamaican patois sounds uneducated and barbaric. While appreciating my own culture, I respect and appreciate the cultures of other countries. I may think it’s a little weird but I would never make negative, derogatory comments.

There are two facts to consider here.

  1. The World Cup is being hosted by South Africa
  2. South Africans blow Vuvuzelas at football matches. They always have and I daresay they always will.

Enjoy the World Cup and stop complaining.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2010 5:05 pm

    Indeed. I mean, whats the difference between that and monstrous screaming at the football pitch? They wouldn’t have it if someone were to visit their country and tell them to remove something that is fundamentally theirs, so why do it to South Africa?

    Good Blog, I enjoyed.

  2. June 16, 2010 5:23 pm

    Exactly. Elsewhere, they sing and play drums and do the Mexican wave. Just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong.
    We all need to be more tolerant of each other.

  3. June 16, 2010 5:28 pm

    I like the sound of the vuvuzelas, too.

  4. June 16, 2010 5:53 pm

    I admit that I was one of those complaining about the annoying sound, but after reading this I might stop.
    It never occurred to me that it could be considered disrespecting another country’s culture.
    Interesting and insightful post!

  5. June 16, 2010 6:20 pm

    I fully agree with ALL your points. I made an article about this topic a couple of days ago on my blog, and it’s inline with what you write.
    To some extend, I find very offensive and insulting this intolerant attitude, especially when it comes to the African continent. This is the way football is enjoyed in South Africa: Blowing in a vuvuzela -period. Rather than being open minded and enjoying it, people (players, spectators etc) complain about it, because it’s not how they are used to in a football stadium.

    I am not used to listening to the vuvuzelas, but I am tolerant and happy to share this experience to enjoy a football game à la South African!
    Great article!

  6. brianksigley permalink
    June 17, 2010 8:30 am

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. It’s incredible to me the sense of entitlement by everyone when it comes to not wanting to tolerate someone else’s lifestyle or tradition, whether it be a cultural tradition, music on the radio or a television program…if you don’t like it, don’t participate, or turn the dial and find something that suits you on the radio or TV. I’m so glad the Vuvuzela will not be banned. It’s about time someone stands up to the masses.

  7. June 17, 2010 10:57 am

    I make fun of the Vuvuzela, but I don’t agree with banning it at all. I think it just adds to the manic atmosphere at those stadiums. It’s part of the game, the culture and all that happy horse-shat…

    I make fun of soccer too—but I still watch it…I guess I just make fun of everything…

    Good post sir =)

  8. June 17, 2010 12:01 pm

    Thank you for your comment.
    But I’d just like to say, I’m not a sir, I’m a madame 😛

  9. June 17, 2010 12:47 pm

    Brilliant blog mate. Just repaying the comment you left on my Vuvuzela blog. Both complement each other well. Damn moaning traditionalists and their borderline ignorant racism!

  10. June 17, 2010 2:36 pm

    I sure like the beat, not the buzz. In Latino and most African stadiums you can enjoy the beat. Vuvuzela is a torture machine, no offense for all South African readers.

  11. WesK permalink
    June 19, 2010 2:39 pm

    Umm…. probably not! I understand that we’re supposed to accept and admire the South African culture during these games, and I agree with that. However, what I do not agree with is using “culture” as an excuse to be annoying as fuck. True, I would not go over to a friends house and rip down their curtains, but I’ll be damned if I’ll sit there and let his/her dog hump my leg. There is a difference… The World Cup is played every four years to celebrate one of the greatest competitions ever; It is a privilege that a country be able to host this tournament. It is their responsibility to ensure that while the games are being held in their country, it is done so in a manor that is as professional and as enjoyable as possible.

  12. June 21, 2010 1:40 am

    I see your point Wesk, but disagree with the analogy. If your friend’s dog humps your leg, it is a molestation and does affect your integrity as an individual. It is then your right to refuse this treatment.
    I don’t see how a horn/trumpet effects can be compared to a humping dog. In South Africa there are vuvuzelas in stadiums, in Europe stadiums you constantly hear the F*** word, the C*** word, the T*** word, the M*** F*** word etc….. What cultural aspect do you prefer?

    In regards to the professionalism you refer to, so far ALL games have been held very professionally. I am always amazed at this super strong scrutiny over the South African world cup. It’s as if people were waiting for something to go wrong to say: “See we told you they could not organise a decent world cup”……

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