Encounter South Africa
What to do
Where to go
Article Archive
Travel Tools


Vuvuzela - The Blowing Horn

A vuvuzela, sometimes called a "lepatata" (its Setswana name) or a stadium horn, is a blowing horn commonly blown by fans at football matches in South Africa.

It's an instrument, but not always a musical one. Describing the atmosphere in a stadium packed with thousands of fans blowing their vuvuzelas is difficult. Up close it's an elephant, but en masse the sound is more like a massive swarm of very angry bees.

To get that sound out requires lip flexibility and lung strength - a fair amount of technique. So be sure to get in some practice before attending a South African football match, or the sound you produce may cause some amusement in the seats around you!

There's uncertainty on the origin of the word "vuvuzela". Some say it comes from the isiZulu for "making noise". Others say it's from township slang related to the word "shower", because it "showers people with music" - or it looks a little like a shower head. Vuvuzelas have been said to be rooted in African history (although this is disputed) originating from the days people would blow on a kudu horn to call villagers to a meeting.

Originally made out of tin, the vuvuzela became popular in South Africa in the 1990s. In 2001, South Africa-based company Masincedane Sport began to mass-produce a plastic version. The vuvuzela is a feature of matches between big South African soccer teams Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. Chiefs supporters have yellow vuvuzelas, while Pirates have black-and-white vuvuzelas.

Vuvuzelas have been controversial. Critics point out that the instrument is blown haphazardly and noisily, which can be distracting to players and coaches who are trying to pay attention to the game. Supporters say this is an African way of showing support.

Adding to the appeal of the Vuvuzela is African folklore that "a baboon is killed by a lot of noise." During the last quarter of a match, supporters blow vuvuzelas frantically in an attempt to "kill off" their opponents.

MediaClub South Africa
South Africa Info




Copyright@ 1997-2013 Encounter SA