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South Africa Soccer Fan Blowing Vuvuzela, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Soccer fan blowing his Vuvuzela

Getty Images/Laurence Griffiths

What is a Vuvuzela?:

A Vuvuzela is a horn, about a meter long, usually made of a colorful cheap plastic. It is the noise-maker of choice for South African football fans. When it's blown by thousands of supporters at the same time, it's loud, very loud. It sounds a bit like an air horn and you probably heard it during the 2010 World Cup. Be prepared for more Vuvu madness during the Africa Cup of Nations (2013).

History of the Vuvuzela:

The official line is that the vuvuzela was originally made from a kudu horn and was traditionally used to summon people to gatherings. But the horn you see at soccer matches in South Africa today, originated from a tin horn that became popular with South African soccer fans around 15 years ago. A sports company began to mass produce a plastic version in the South Africa colors, and this is what you see (and hear) at every soccer match. It became an official symbol of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and its popularity spread around the world.

The Vuvuzela at the 2010 World Cup:

The vuvuzela was ubiquitous during the 2010 World Cup. There was a call for FIFA to ban the vuvuzela during the Confederations Cup that took place in South Africa in June 2009. European journalists got into a tizzy about the noise. The Guardian reported: "It sounds like a platoon of ninja bumblebees with a bad mobile signal have left you a 45-minute answerphone message". But FIFA stood its ground, as Mr Blatter, FIFA's president says "Vuvuzelas, drums and singing are part of African football culture. It is part of their celebration, it is part of their culture, so let them blow the vuvuzelas.".

Variations of the Vuvuzela:

The most attractive (and environmentally friendly) variation of the vuvu is the kelp vuvuzela. Adam Carnegie, a graphic artist from Cape Town, founded the Kelp Environmental Learning Project. The project employs local men and women to collect kelp, dry it and then hand paint colorful designs on it. The mission is simple - “We want to create jobs, make a noise, make people laugh, remind people to be in the moment." More on this story...

There's also the kuduzela, made from the horn of a kudu. A beaded vuvuzela is very attractive, with a Zulu touch. And the ZaZu is an interesting hybrid of the vuvuzela and kuduzela.

Alternative Uses For the Vuvuzela:

Courtesy of Boogieblast, a web site dedicated to the vuvuzela, here are some alternative uses:

  1. Cricket bat.
  2. Hearing Aid.
  3. Petrol funnel.
  4. Water sprayer. (force trumpet side down into water)
  5. Drinking funnel. Nuff said.
  6. 4G mobile communication
  7. Walking stick,
  8. Light saber. (Just insert a torch) as seen on Starwars….
  9. Jousting Stick (simply insert one into another.)
  10. And of coarse… supporting any team/thing you like…

Where Can I Buy a Vuvuzela?:

Amazon.com and some sports outfitters sell the cheap, basic vuvuzela's. But you can get your customized vuvus made by various companies including:

How to Play a Vuvuzela and What it Sounds Like:

Like most trumpets, getting any noise from a vuvuzela requires significant pursing of the lips and the ability to blow with force. Your cheeks will be zinging afterward. You can personalize your vuvu blowing techniques with a lot of practice, but generally it produces one big sound.

Here's a video to demonstrate -- How To Play a Vuvuzela.

And here's a vuvuzela orchestra, using slightly modified versions of the vuvuzela.

Sources and More About the Vuvuzela:

  1. About.com
  2. Travel
  3. Africa Travel
  4. South Africa
  5. World Cup 2010
  6. Vuvuzela

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