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What is a vuvuzela?

Updated on June 20, 2010

This 1 meter long plastic horn has been the talk of the FIFA 2010 Football World Cup. In fact, #vuvuzela even became the first World Cup related trend on Twitter. However, it seems the world has been polarised by this simple "instrument". There are those that love the frivolity of the vuvuzela and those that hate it. FIFA was even asked by some quarters to ban the instrument at World Cup matches. FIFA Chairman Sepp Blatter had this to say about the argument (on Twitter): "“I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country. Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?"

Now the world is subjected to the droning of thousands of vuvuzelas at every game. The sound is akin to a giant swarm of bees. 

The history of the vuvuzela

The history of the vuvuzela is a bit fuzzy, but popular opinion states that it harks back to the days when tribesmen would use a Kudu horn to summon villagers to meetings. There's even more uncertainty as to the etymology of the word vuvuzela with some people saying it's from the isiZulu for  "making noise", while others say it's from township slang related to the word "shower", because it "showers people with music" or perhaps because it showers the people in front with sputum? 

South African soccer fans introduced a tin version to local football matches in the 1980s. In 2001 a company in Cape Town, South Africa called Masincedane Sport started to mass-produce the plastic vuvuzela and the rest is history.

How to blow a vuvuzela

You need not have attended music training from a young age in order to master this instrument. It is simply a horn. The best way to get the powerful effect of the vuvuzela is to place your lips inside the mouth piece, take a deep breath and blow through your relaxed, slightly pursed lips as if you were "blowing a raspberry" or "making a farting noise". Once the noise starts, give an extra blast from your diaphragm and this should increase the decibels to that "PAAAAAAAAAARP" sound so many love and so many equally hate. 

Some vuvuzela etiquette: DON'T BLOW IT IN SOMEONE'S EAR! If you're at the stadium, aim your vuvuzela away from the people in front of you and towards the sky.  

Health Warning - Hearing Damage

A single vuvuzela blast can achieve a decibel level of 127, which is louder than a chainsaw or a lawnmower. Also consider this scary fact: the modern Boeing 737 creates 85 to 100 decibels of noise, depending on whether it is taking off, in flight, or landing.

A person's hearing could be damaged by prolonged exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels, whilst hearing damage can occur after just 15 minutes of exposure to volume levels of 100 decibels or more.The collective decibel level at a stadium with thousands of vuvuzelas being played continuously and simultaneously is certainly a risk to your hearing and medical experts recommend wearing ear plugs. 

How to filter out the sound of the vuvuzela?

If you, like many people, are sick and tired of the sound of the "swarm of bees" then there are ways to filter out the sound of the vuvuzela from your television. You can check out the article HERE


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