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.



  1. Very eloquent Rob, and not without merit. However, those damn horns really do go past the limit and I've been watching the matches with the mute on, which is not ideal.

    Oh, and that darn England band is terrible too and I'd happily see the back of that.

    It's not that I dislike noise - most of my attendance has been in the Stretford End (ok, I know it's not as noisy these days, before any joker starts making comments) so atmosphere is part of the game for me.

  2. ban the fucking things

  3. Well said buddy.
    I'm getting bored of all this tripe about how they are ruining the World Cup experience. But how so if the Vuvuzela is a part of the South African football experience?

    Just take it as part of the package and enjoy the festival of football or as you said turn the TV down!

    You won't be missing anything with Mick McCarthy droning or Lawro's unfunny jokes!

  4. excellent post, you highlight why a lot of english people dislike english people. It is Africa's world cup, who the hell do all these complainers think they are

  5. I absolutely agree and support what you said, how dare the west dictate what should be heard in a country that has shown nothing but kindness and joy to the rest of the world despite the hype about violence and going to South Africa will get you killed, they still put on a great world cup, well done Africa.
    (loved the kick off concert.)

  6. "And it is for us to applaud them and be tolerant."

    When one volunteers to be a host, it is hardly cultural imperialism to be expected to behave with due courtesy. Conduct that not only interferes with the matches (accordingly to multiple players), but endangers the health of fans (with 120+ dB sustained blasts) is frankly inexcusable.

    And yet here you are effectively chastising critics of the vuvuzela as 'racist' for not being blindly tolerant of something just because it is African. Behaviour should be judged on its merits and effects, not fear of being perceived as 'intolerant'. Yet the tired old 'racism/colonialism' card is being drawn here precisely because the effect of vuvuzelas is in itself indefensible.

    Please explain why it was a black, African-born player, France's Patrice Evra, complaining about the way vuvuzelas hurt play and even kept the team from proper sleep? And it certainly bursts the usual 'anti-racist' line of 'white intolerance' to note that Japan called for a ban on the vuvuzela months ago. Another article I read had a fan from Bhutan criticising the horns and complaining about their effect. But it's all "our lack of tolerance", right?

  7. I am South African and live in South Africa and I hate this thing. It is only recently a part of football and probably a very good reason as to why the South African team is so pathetic. Imagine having to play year in and year out unable to communicate with your team on the field. No wonder the play like 11 individuals oblivious to their team.

    .........and as for an African World Cup (oxymoron if ever there was one). It is a World Cup taking place in Africa - a huge difference!