Whoever thought that it would come to this? After all the worries about crime, the main point of Western disaffection with the World Cup held in South Africa has come down to the vuvuzela, the single-note horn favoured by fans which has had television viewers and fairweather enthusiasts complaining about the amount of “disruption” they cause, and the lessening of enjoyment they apparently cause spectators. Studies have been commisioned to show that they are actually dangerous!
But according to FIFA, unless the vuvuzela actually poses a physical hazard, it is here to stay. Cue a mass of people who normally don’t pay attention to football switching off, as the World Cup is simply too intolerable for them to put up with now. Those of us who are familiar with soccer-ball are on our own. Well, us and our ear doctors.
There was an interesting discussion over the weekend about whether the vuvuzela should be banned. I have nothing but admiration for the South African lady (I think it was a lady) who politely but sassily informed all the grouches that quite frankly, the World Cup isn’t about them. This is South Africa’s moment in the sun. This is the country’s chance to show off to the rest of the world, display aspects of its culture and basically be the the belle of the ball for a month. If that includes very noisy horns that not everyone appreciates, so be it!
European, South American, and Asian audiences may be used to more melodic match accompaniments, but what the grouches have failed to realise is that this year’s World Cup comes with a uniquely African flavour. Yes, a number of foreigners have travelled to South Africa; yes, a number of them are pumping money into the local economy. But that does not mean that the World Cup is going to be magically transformed to a Euro-style football tournament that just happens to be taking place in Africa. The locals are invited too, and if they are used to bringing their horns to a match, those horns are going to be blaring throughout every match of the World Cup. And hooray for that!
I realise that the World Cup is a global event. I realise that people have travelled thousands of miles to watch their teams play. But, at the end of the day, this is a South African World Cup. Remember, earplugs are also on sale to save you from permanent vuvuzela damage. Asking for delicate foreign sensibilities to be taken into account might look a little like colonialism. And if there’s one thing that Africa doesn’t need, it is more outsiders telling them where they are going wrong. Let’s just hope that the World Cup vibe keeps men drinking, keeps women shopping, and keeps everyone as a whole focussed on the greatest showcase for Africa.
[Image by African Goals 2010]