One of the more hilarious misapplications of the vuvuzela appears in a video put out by Deadspin blog. The author of this hysterical entry inserts the annoying sound of the vuvuzela into several iconic cultural and historical moments, such as Bill Clinton enunciating portentously “I-did-not-have-sexual-relations-with-that-woman”, or OJ Simpson trying on the infamous glove at his trial. The video is must-see creativity. I can think of so many tennis moments for which the punctuation of the vuvuzela would be most apt. Can you imagine Serena’s US Open tirade being accompanied by vuvuzela? Just the thought of it is cracking me up.
Even folks who did not follow World Cup and know nothing of the death threats now being dispatched towards Paul the prognosticating octopus, even folks who quit watching the World Cup after the US lost to Ghana -- just about everyone who is anyone knows about the ascendance of the African vuvuzela. Some believe that it destroyed the World Cup. It certainly interfered with ESPN coverage at certain moments, not that ESPN really seemed to care about World Cup after the US folded to Ghana.
But the vuvuzelas did not trouble me in the slightest. After all, I grew up on conch shells gleefully sounding out as Brian Lara scored another century. I can recall cricket matches that spontaneously turned into mini Carnival parades with loud music and even louder horns, as the Windies celebrated a victory. So, no, vuvuzelas do not bother me in the slightest.
For the uninformed, vuvuzelas are a stadium horn common to South Africa. Like most things that have gained unexpected popularity, there is now fierce debate over who exactly invented the vuvuzela. A South African named Freddie “Saddam” Maake said that he fashioned an aluminum version of the vuvuzela in 1965 from a bicycle horn; he has photos supporting this claim. Most agree that the Masincedance Sport factory popularized the vuvuzela by selling mass quantities of a plastic version. But not to be outdone, the Nazareth Baptist Church has claimed that the instrument belongs to their Church. Many believe that the traditional vuvuzela was fashioned from a kudu (antelope) horn and was used to summon villagers to community gatherings.
Whatever its origins, the vuvuzela has become a soccer staple in South Africa. The word vuvuzela stems from the Zulu language or Nguni dialect meaning to make a vuvu sound. And thanks to World Cup, people have started ‘vuvu-ing’ at all kinds of sporting and public events. The vuvuzela even made several appearances during July 4th celebrations!
No surprise then that in the pristine and conservative halls of Wimbledon, someone rushed to decide that vuvuzelas were not welcome. Once the Queen and her people got wind of the fact that vuvuzelas were selling in London like hot cakes (or fish and chips, take your choice), they dispatched a missive that vuvuzelas or anything thing noisy (other than Serena, Venus, and Sharapova) were not welcome at Wimbledon.
To be honest, I wouldn’t have minded it if someone had blasted a vuvuzela once Serena hit match point at Wimbledon. Those are the moments for which annoying repetitive sound devices were invented. Instead Serena had to cut short her celebration and rush to get ready for the post-match ceremony. And nobody puts a post-match ceremony together faster than the folks at the All England Club. You could tell they were raised on tea and scones, not on unruly conch shells and vuvuzelas.
So let me go on the record and say that I wouldn’t mind it if a few vuvuzelas showed up at the US open. Now it can only be just a few, and only for the night matches. But because the annoying sound of this instrument would carry all the way to the Triboro bridge, I would suggest that they should only be allowed during the semi finals and finals when no other matches are being played. And vuvuzela players must be strictly trained on when and how to burst into noise.
For example, in Trinidad during the Carnival steel-pan competitions, noisemakers are allowed into the stadium. But everyone understands that they cannot make a sound while the performers are doing their bit. But in between performances, as the steel-pans are being wheeled and pushed off stage, and the next band is setting up, it’s every vuvuzela for itself. The racket from the stands can be cacophonous if you’re listening from afar, but if you’re in the audience, you start to detect that there is a rhythm and cadence to the sounds. But everything stops the minute the band on stage signals that it is ready to perform. In other words, I wouldn’t mind hearing a vuvuzela or two during changes of end. Or when someone challenges a line call and Hawk-eye proves they’re right.
(PS: To hell with Paul, go Netherlands!!!!) :-)