Monday, June 21, 2010


Footballers love to complain. Whether it’s the ball that’s playing tricks on the goalkeepers (Jabulani, anyone?), or a pitch that’s too wet to play on, they love finding a reason to scapegoat their failures upon.

The recent advent of the vuvuzela, or the lepatata in its native South African language, has provided players another such excuse. Made out of plastic, these tubes of joy can produce noise levels measured at up to 127 decibels, roughly the same range as a firecracker.

When Argentine superstar Lionel Messi blamed the vuvuzela for his team conceding a goal against South Korea last week, it was clear that there was something going with the vuvuzela.

Some say it sounds like an elephant in distress, while others associate it to the sound of hundreds of millions of bees protesting in anger.

FIFA considered banning it, but to no avail.

Wimbledon have already banned the vuvuzela at their annual tennis tournament and rightfully so. Somehow the idea of Roger Federer getting ready to serve on match point, only to be shocked into dropping his racquet by the sharp blare of a vuvuzela just doesn’t quite seem right.

But I’ve come to like the vuvuzela. It’s something different, something unique that’s been a refreshing change from the usual sound of a football match. Its abrasive resonance fills me with a sense of joy and fulfillment, and has made this World Cup different from the rest.

When you hear that elephant desperately call for a doctor, you know it’s time for some high quality international footy.

Sure the crowd can still sing and chant, what’s stopping the vuvuzela from playing a part in the festive atmosphere that only a World Cup can produce? You’re not allowed to blow it during national anthems, nor when a speech is going on so what’s the problem.

A South African sportswriter by the name of Jon Qwelane once described the vuvuzela as "an instrument from hell". It resulted in him imposing a self-ban on himself from watching live games in South Africa.

If a 65 centimeter plastic tube can ruin a World Cup for you, then God help you always.

Isn’t it better to just embrace the vuvuzela as a son, and get on with the festivities?

- Mohamed Kazim Suleman

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