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Cape Town Life: The vuvuzela

Blowing the vuvuzela

Playing the vuvuzela is a lot of fun

Make some (African) noise: The vuvuzela

Every World Cup brings something new to the table. The African World Cup has a very special and even controversial contribution to the celebration: The vuvuzela.

In high dispute long before the World Cup with FIFA even considering banning it, the vuvuzela is now an essential part of the World Cup: If you can’t blow it, you’re not part of it.

It’s not easy and needs practice. It’s somehow similar to a trumpet and requires skill and stamina. Except it’s a cheap plastic horn that is not even meant to produce anything remotely musical.

As we don’t want to fit the stereotype of girlies who can’t blow the vuvuzela, we tried. And tried. And tried. It’s tricky, because if you try too hard, it’s not going to work either. But once you get the hang of it, you can start practicing to achieve the full throttle sound, that is really really loud. First you will produce a buzzing humming that just rolls along the general drone of the crowd like a swarm of bees. But if you clench your tummy, you can pitch it to a more clear and penetrating sound that stands out from the crowd.

I think it’s only when you realise that this kind of vuvuzela reverberation comes from somewhere deep down in your guts, that you get really good at it.

And then the best part can come: Going out there to impress the world.

Because you’re never alone when blowing the vuvuzela. Someone will always respond:

If it is another vuvuzela from far far away that makes you feel close across borders. Or if it is someone near by who playfully enters a competition and you two might end up in a wonderful vuvuzela orchestration. Of if it’s someone without a vuvuzela congratulating you on playing it well. There is always a sign of respect if you can blow the vuvuzela, I have not heard one single person complain about it.

The only people ever complaining about the vuvuzela were the ones who had never tried it. Whereas in Europe you get those can type football sirens which blow your ears away, the vuvuzela is loud, but in a vibrating deep resonating way that is not annoying to the ears. Plus it requires human strength, not just the push of a button, and that makes it, well, more human. It also means that as the day goes by, vuvuzelas are being blown less and less, because it’s seriously exhausting.

I, for example, had muscle aching in my face and in my diaphragm by the end of the night and was very glad to put the vuvuzela to rest.

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