THE 2010 SOCCER WORLD CUP
South Africa has risen magnificently to the occasion of organizing and hosting the 2010 soccer world cup. Its people have also responded with great enthusiasm to the call to support, first of all, its national soccer team, but also to fill the stadia with spectators at all matches. Patriotism has been evident in the display of flags on various parts of cars and vehicles, flags flying on buildings, soccer shirts in the national colours being worn every Friday. There are also a couple of inventions that have become cultural icons and are very unique to this soccer world cup.
One of these is the vuvu-ze-la (pron. voo-voo-zeh-lah).
The vuvuzela is a blowing instrument that has become associated with soccer in South Africa. Fans blow it to urge their teams to victory. It is made of plastic in different colours and can only sound one note. From a distance, hundreds / thousands of these ‘instruments’ blown at a soccer match sound like huge swarms of bees. Close by, they blare almost deafeningly. The vuvuzela attained notoriety last year in the African Cup of Nations when foreign players and fans complained bitterly that it nearly drove them mad – they couldn’t concentrate or hear one another. It got known as the instrument of [foreigners’] torture, and the secret 12th man in the soccer squad. Against all foreign opposition, however, FIFA decided to officially sanction its use. “The world cup is going to be held in Africa. Africa will do things its way”. Unfortunately, I have not been able to ascertain how the vuvuzela got its name. A Zulu dictionary indicates that the word means “to sprinkle”. I suspect that that meaning does not apply to our vuvuzela because it refers to something much gentler than the vuvuzela is capable of producing. However, the use of an animal’s horn in rural areas, especially in hilly areas, to call people together, or to sound some form of message would apply. The vuvuzela is, without doubt, a rallying horn. Furthermore, it is no longer something used by South Africans alone. Pictures show fans of all hues and loyalties now enthusiastically blasting away, egging their teams on.
The second cultural icon is the maka-ra-pa (pron. mah-kah-rah-pah).
Simply, this refers to an ordinary miner’s helmet. It too, has become associated with soccer in South Africa, and the creative origins, totally divorced from mining, came about as follows:
A shack-dwelling soccer fan from an informal settlement observed how a spectator got hit on the head by a flying object thrown by an irate fan. He decided to wear a miner’s helmet for protection, and painted the helmet in his favourite soccer squad’s colours. Little did he know how wildly popular his apparel would become. As more and more admirers clamoured for hats for themselves, our shack-dweller started to burn and paint shapes out of the hats, until some of them look quite fantastical. No hat was meant to be duplicated. Each one was unique. Accessories to the hat are often hugely oversized coloured spectacle frames together with clothing and facial paint in the favourite soccer squad’s colours.
A third invention is that of the “diski dance”
“Diski” is township lingo for “soccer” / the “soccer ball”. The dance is composed of energetic moves imitating the ways in which soccer players use the ball (using feet, shoulders, chests, heads, necks, backs). The dance was first video-ed in Nelson Mandela Square in posh up-market Sandton in Johannesburg. Someone gathered a group of young people around and taught the steps to those in the square who cared to learn. A traffic officer in uniform is also seen among the learners. The video was published and soon dance studios were advertising lessons in “The Diski Dance”. Children learnt the dance at school and held competitions to see which house could dance it best.
The pictures show some of the staff of the Catholic Institute of Education engaging in vuvuzela-blowing and diski dancing. The Institute caught the fever.