Home > Social Norms > The Culture of Vuvuzelas?

The Culture of Vuvuzelas?

My cousin did the Peace Corps in South Africa in the early 2000s. Last night while talking with her on the phone I asked about the history of the vuvuzela. She laughed and responded, “I didn’t see a single vuvuzela when I was in South Africa. I went to soccer games, cricket games and rugby games, and not once did I see those things. I only lived there for two years so maybe that’s one part of South African culture I didn’t learn about.”

Source: Reuters

Photo Source: UK Reuters

So that got me thinking, what exactly is the history of the vuvuzela? It’s certainly become big news as some fans argue for a ban on the horn while others say that doing so is ethnocentric. Curious, I did some searching and came across this post in a 2009 thread from the Language Log.

“The vuvuzela, contrary to revisionist history, is not a traditional South African trumpet, but the product of a very recent, corporatist inspired history. That’s problematic of course, but I would even be forgiving, if it wasn’t so annoying.”

The post led me to Football is Coming Home, where a 2009 blog post discussed how the first vuvuzela prototype actually came from the U.S., and that further inquiry traces its roots back to a Chinese woman’s basketball team. Apparently vuvuzela controversy began as South Africa geared up for the World Cup, and now the rest of the world is catching on.

Cultural emergence? Perhaps. Socially constructed? Absolutely. I am not here to debate the true origins of the vuvuzela or to under/overstate its importance in World Cup 2010 and South African soccer. Love it or hate it, the vuvuzela IS part of South African football culture, at the very least for this World Cup (and maybe even worldwide football culture after this), whether that culture began hundreds of years ago or 10 days ago. How about that?

Categories: Social Norms
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