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Ever wondered about the instrumental madness that has swept South Africa?
If you haven't seen one yet, then you've at least heard it. The sound has been compared to, amongst other things - the hooting of a car horn, a foghorn, a gaseous emittance, a joyous ''boogying blast'' or a pack of demons gleefully escaping the underworld.
The Vuvuzela is an simple horn instrument about half a metre long ( Although size can vary, and mini versions are becoming all the rage ), is made from plastic - comes in every manner of colour, and has no musical or tonal variance to speak of.
These days you’ll encounter these horns at pretty much ANY event that has some form of revelry, but Vuvuzelas and their merry blasting have become synonymous with soccer. It’s really a case of – own a Vuvuzela? No? Then I hope you own ear plugs.
There has been much dispute as to the exact origin of the instrument ( some would scoff at me using this term in description ), the most popular opinion being that it is descended from the Kudu horn, which was traditionally blown to summon villagers to meetings. Later it was made into tin, before evolving into the hard plastic form now so instantly recognisable.
How its name came about has garnered even more debate - some say 'Vuvuzela' comes directly from the ''Vuvu'' sound that it makes. Others claim it's origins lie in the Zulu word for 'Making Noise', while still others claim it comes from the township slang for 'shower(head)' due to its shape.
Whatever its origins, it is undeniable (by even its harshest of critics, and it has many ) that the Vuvuzela has deeply ingrained itself into South African culture and specifically, South African Soccer Culture. It is nigh impossible to go to a local game WITHOUT hearing the instrument blasting away happily. In fact, one doesn't have to be at said game to hear the Vuvuzela's thunderous applaud, just really anywhere within say... a few kilometres will do.
These same attention seeking properties have led to FIFA and others calling for a ban on the instrument, claiming it serves as nothing more than a distraction, taking away from rather than adding to the atmosphere of a game.
At this point however that would be like calling for a ban on Pap or Biltong, so ingrained is the Vuvuzela in our culture, and so effective its use on the morale of, if not the football players - then certainly the fans. Those that own the instrument anyway.
And yet... as maddening as the sound can be - I dare you to try the instrument without smiling impishly after the satisfying ''vuvuuuuuuu'' rings true.
Ready to add to the mayhem? But perhaps you're nervous about your Vuvuzela-blowing ablities. Fear not - here are some useful tips to help you on your road to eardrum destruction.
1: Treat your instrument with kindnesss, and it will be kind to you. No one appreciates a badly blown Vuvuzela.
2: When you feel you have developed a strong kinship with your Vuvuzela, look at it with equal parts love and respect- then and only then are you ready to attempt sounding it off.
3: Put your mouth to and your lips on the inside of the instrument. There is no standard position for hand placement; go with what feels most comfortable for you, and your own Vuvuzela.
4: When this is done, relax your cheeks and vibrate your lips ( which are hopefully still inside the instrument ) all the while emitting a low hum.
5: When this hum eventually reaches a pleasant 'Trumpeting' sound, blow with all your might and zeal to let forth the infamous Vuvuzela Fever Pitch! Simple as that, you are now officially a horn-playing, soccer-crazy, full-fledged Vuvuzela Fan.
By John Scharges
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