Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Our lack of tolerance exposed by the Vuvuzela
Everyone and their mothers are jumping up on their soapboxes to tell us just how annoying the vuvuzela is.
The instrument originates from Mexico and South America...where such noise making instruments are common place in football stadiums. The ever colourful and bashful Brazilians have their Samba rhythm section at all their games...but as most Brits hear a version of this on Strictly Come Dancing, it is more than acceptable to our Simon Cowell controlled palettes.
BBC sports commentator Farayi Mungazi said the sound of the horn was the "recognised sound of football in South Africa" and is "absolutely essential for an authentic South African footballing experience". I understand totally why this decibel challenging instrument is annoying so many. Nobody really likes sitting with their head stuck up an active beehive. But the protest against the vuvuzela has a deeper significance for me.
One of the main points of this World Cup was to finally include Africa in sharing the hosting duties of our greatest tournament. Despite the poverty and issues of stability and safety, South Africa was chosen after finally dissolving itself of 'White Rule' and we all stood back and applauded that a society could sort out its issues, no matter how testing and how long it would take. Mandela was touted as our modern day Gandhi, and we all got a warm feeling in our hearts.
So here we are, a global football community..moving forward together. And what do we go on about? The sound of a bloody horn! Mungazi also said there was no point in taking the World Cup to Africa and then "trying to give it a European feel"...and I totally agree with him.
For me this is all a question of our society's tolerance levels. We pontificate about the cosmopolitan developed genes we have in the West, yet we cant stand the noise of an authentic African football match....and we are gonna let the whole world know about it!
"Ban them horns!" "They destroy atmosphere!" "They make me sick!" "Its a disgrace!" "I wont watch anymore of this World Cup!"...just a minuscule amount of statements I've heard and also read on Twitter, Facebook and the like. So how would we feel if the Africans said..."Erm..excuse me England..we don't like your travelling brass band..playing Rule Britannia, etc...so we are gonna call for FIFA to ban it"....what would we all say to that? There would be jingoistic Facebook groups set up to counter protest within a heartbeat. We'd beat our chest and stick a certain couple of fingers up in the correct direction.
Yet here we are...telling another nation...what they should do...in their own back yard.
This is an African world cup.....IN AFRICA.....
Not in England. Not in the United States of America. Not anywhere else.
It is for them to create the atmosphere that they normally create. And it is for us to applaud them and be tolerant. For us to understand that in different places they do things differently. I personally dislike hearing all the 'YOU-ESS-AAIII' chants from Americans...because it's quite a grating repetitive ditty..but I would never ever tell them that they were wrong for chanting this...because it would make me an ignorant idiot.
So people....enjoy this World Cup. Appreciate that the world has progressed in certain regions...this tournament was once thought never to be possible on this continent. It's there to be celebrated. I know the vast majority of fans out there attending games think the vuvuzela has been a great addition to the atmosphere of a match...and as a very regular attendant of English football matches, where I sit with many fans who'd rather eat a packet of crisp than sing, and nip off ten minutes before the end to 'avoid the traffic' I fully give the vuvuzela my undying support.
And if you really cant stand the noise just turn the TV down!
Well done Bafana Bafana. Your colour will enlighten our history books in years to come.