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Yes Blaas!

by Emma Nicholson, images by Kelly Berold / 28.06.2010

So England bombed out of the World Cup, again, and amongst all the bleating about “that goal” you can be sure some in the British press will try and shift the blame onto the plastic horn, that has become the symbol of this World Cup. The vuvuzela, God bless her sheer plastic simplicity. If this was a World Cup of Moaning, the British would be faultless. Hell they’d be so good the English public would actually support their own team. Even their star player Wayne Rooney, has got a reason to hate the vuvuzela. Apparently in the first week of the World Cup, the plastic flute got more Google searches than England’s premier striker. (What does that say about his form?) And man do the rest of his countrymen hate that thing.

Something made out of plastic hasn’t got this much press since Pam Anderson came to do panto here last year. Over water coolers, in the line at Sainsburys, under dripping umbrellas at the bus stop, all they can talk about is that incessant noise that makes their pubs sound like bee hives and is most definitely part of the reason their team couldn’t get it together to beat the USA, Algeria nor Germany (not of course because they’re shit at playing together as a team and their goalie lost concentration for a moment and has now been sentenced to persecution in the British press worthy of Josef Fritzl and past Big Brother contestants). Honestly if I get asked by one more person why South Africa can’t “sort it out” and ban “those ghastly trumpets” I may just start carrying one around with me to beat them over the head.

Someone actually said to me that it’s a pity the vuvuzelas drown out all other noise so the “locals” can’t sing because Africans love to sing at football matches. Now I’m no football expert (cue sound of anyone that knows me chortling in the background), but what I do know is as you channel surf the SABC, the quickest way to identify a local match is by the hum of vuvuzelas accompanying it, not a chorus of “who ate all the pies”. If you’d like South Africans to get the chance to support football like we usually do, then let us trumpet on.

The thing about the British is they often don’t see the bigger picture, they’re too busy listening for the smaller details. This is an AFRICAN world cup so it will be celebrated in an AFRICAN way. We may not be as slick as Korea and Japan or as regimented as Germany, we may not do things in the same way as the UK, in fact we proudly don’t. Africa is noisy and messy and chaotic and beautiful and that’s how we support Bafana Bafana. That seething crowd of colour creating that noise is only doing it to show their pride in their team, their country and their continent. After all the British are in no position to lecture anybody on how to support their team. Even before they got taught a lesson in counter-attacking by ze Germans, I heard many an Englishman and woman complain about how their team will never win, despite their 8th place Fifa ranking and a squad including players like Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard. South Africans on the other hand really believed their team could do it, even if it was a statistical impossibility and instead we suffered the ignominy of being the first World Cup hosts to exit in the first round. Who cares? We’re only ranked 83rd by Fifa, we’ll blast those vuvuzelas right to the last whistle. They can take back their trophy but they can never take our ayoba!

So to any Brits reading out there, before you write another letter to the BBC or complain to old Gezza next door over a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit, maybe take a step back and realise this World Cup is bigger than your overpaid players and your need for everything to sound like it’s happening at Wembley.

And if you can’t do that at the very least learn to pronounce it properly.


It’s not hard and you may as well try because it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. But apparently you are.

*All images © Kelly Berold.

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