World Cup's Vuvuzela Is The Sound Heard Round The World

Vuvuzela (pronouced voo-voo-ZAY-lah) is the horn of plenty. Its name in Zulu roughly translates to "making a lot of noise" — and it sure does. This year's World Cup in South Africa is distinguished by a sound not found in too many other destinations. At best, it's been compared to the sound of a herd of elephants - at worst perhaps, "the traffic jam from hell."

Nothing represents the sheer exuberance of South African soccer fans better than the "vuvuzela," the trombone-length plastic horn that the world was introduced to at the opening ceremonies, June 11.

If you haven't heard them yet, then you have not tuned in to watch any of the games over the course of the last few days. Vuvuzelas are sold everywhere in South Africa these days. They have moved from corner shops in poor townships to upscale  shopping malls in plush suburbs.

For those that can't travel to Capetown to get up front a nd personal with these horns, you can purchase the vuvuzela in various colors online from Amazon. However if you think your getting a deal, the same horn in Capetown is selling for $3 versus Amazon's $6.75.

When US soccer players from the 32 teams checked into their hotel rooms at the Irene County Lodge near Pretoria, the VIP gift was their very own vuvuzela. I'm thinking the World Cup organizers were preparing the players for what many consider a distracting sound on the field.

The horns have stimulated some controversy because they virtually do not stop at any time throughout the course of play.  And while they have prompted complaints from the fans, Sepp Blatter, the president of soccer's governing body, declined to ban them for the World Cup, saying they are part of the sport's culture in South Africa.

Others are more enthusiastic about the horn's cultural heritage, and actually attach the vuvuzela to a hard hat decorated in team colors, creating a contraption known as the 'makarapa vuvuzela.'

makarapa Vuvuzelamakarapa Vuvuzela
The history of the horns has been disputed over the years. Enoch Mthembu claims that the Shembe Church, a South African Christian Church, first created the vuvuzela but called it "ibhomu," which was made from metal. But Freddy "Saddam" Maake says he got the idea from a metal bicycle horn. He went into partnership with the Boogie Blast Co., which began mass-producing plastic horns.

For those fans in the stadium or at home that would rather hear silence that the droning sound of horns, earplugs might be the answer. In fact,Vuvuzuela earplugsVuvuzuela earplugs the South African Earplug Company is doing a brisk business. It has designed an earplug in the shape of a vuvuzela. Spokesman Andrew Chin said the company had 70,000 provisional orders a few weeks before the tournament.

Siphiwe TshabalalaSiphiwe TshabalalaOddly enough when the South African team reached the 55th minute of their match-up with Mexico, the horns went dead 'silent' as South African's Siphiwe Tshabalala struck a left-footed rocket past Mexican goalkeeper Oscar Perez to score his goal. While the game ended in a 1-1 draw, you could imagine what kind of a decibel level would have been reached had South Africa actually won the game!

You think the horns have anything to do will all these empty seats? (See the vuvusela.)

What's With All The Empty Seats?What's With All The Empty Seats?

Update: June 15 - A new Facebook page called FIFA – Ban the Annoying Vuvuzela Horn from the South African World Cup already has over 224,000 fans and is getting more by the second.

 Ban Vuvuzelas on FacebookBan Vuvuzelas on Facebook

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Jun 13, 2010
by Anonymous


How can you possibly say that nothing represents the exhuberance more? 1 vuvuzela might be exhuberant but 10,000 of them are monotonous. These awful things make watchignt he games almost unbearable with the sound on. If FIFA is happy to lose marketing value then let them continue,. But crowd singing sounds better than those things anyday

Jun 13, 2010
by Anonymous


The vuvuzela makes the people of Africa look ignorant, obnoxious and childish. They should be banned. What is FIFA thinking? Three days into the best international sporting event in the world and I've had enough. The event is exciting, worldly and a great showcase of talent but the drone is ridiculous. Maybe everyone at the next World Cup should bring a chalkboard and sharp there's some "cultural heritage". "Nothing represents the sheer exuberance of South African soccer fans better than the "vuvuzela," the trombone-length plastic horn that the world was introduced to at the opening ceremonies, June 11."

Jun 13, 2010
by Ron Callari

Cultural traditions

While it may be hard to understand a cultural tradition - it doesn't give cause to ridicule the people that believe in them.

Jun 13, 2010
by Anonymous

Ban it

Send ESPN a text message saying that you refuse to watch the WC unless the vuvuzela is banned. { txt(at)espn(dot)com } Also BBC has been admittely against the horn so contact them to. Contact whatever station is broadcasting the WC in your country.

Jun 13, 2010
by Anonymous


The vuvuzela may be cultural, but it's annoying noise to people of other cultures. It IS the World Cup. If Scotland were playing it would be annoying to hear thousands of bagpipes playing one note for 90 minutes, or at the world series to hear an organ playing one note for 90 minutes. It least with TV you can mute the sound and use CC. With the sound no you often can't here the commentary over the drone. The fans at the stadium and the players must leave with a splitting tension headache.

Jun 24, 2010
by Anonymous

i love the vuvuzela, and am

i love the vuvuzela, and am ordering a bunch from amazon as we speak,