No, it is apparently not a “traditional” South African instrument. Neither does it have any significant cultural value. Vuvuzelas started appearing during South African football games in the 1990s. Similar instruments had been used in Mexico in the 1970s. Various officials, coaches and players at World Cup 2010 have protested at the unacceptable noise level produced by thousands blowing on vuvuzelas during matches. The “beautiful game” depends primarily on the players on the football pitch. But the flavour of the game is much diminished without being able to see and experience audience reaction. The cheers, the nationalistic songs, just the pure raucousness of the fans give a game its anbiance. In this World Cup, all we hear is the droning of the vuvuzelas which drowns out every other sound in the immediate universe.
The players cannot even communicate well among themselves. Being able to concentrate on the game is as important as playing skills and physical fitness. Concentrating, with the noise akin to a billion bees humming around you, must be well nigh impossible. The FIFA President says that vuvuzelas cannot be banned since the World Cup is being played in South Africa and these instruments are a part of South African football. Maybe that explains the poor performance of the European teams!
Wimbledon 2010, which starts today, has already banned this pesky item. So has Yankee Stadium in New York. It is one thing to take pride in one’s tradition but quite another to drive the world nuts with the horrible monotone of tuneless noise makers.