I love the vuvuzela. Straight up love it.
I love the vuvuzela because it is uniquely African. It is a cultural staple. And, for once, we (the powerful elitist of the developed world) are being forced to deal with someone else's culture rather that simply overwhelming the "lesser" nation with our vapid idea of what proper culture should be.
All of the complaining parties are offenders of one form or another. Some of you yahoos in Texas shake cowbells at sporting events, which makes the vuvuzela sound like a lullaby.
Others among us are guilty of using those annoyingly lazy hand-clapper things. Who thought there was such a gap in society that we needed to invent that? And what did that brainstorm sound like? "Hmm, I have two hands but that is awfully bothersome to have to clap using both of them. And sometimes I clap wrong and it almost hurts. What if I just had to shake these plastic hand-shaped things and they made a rackety clapping sound? Yes!! Perfect!!"
Worst of all are the dreaded thundersticks. Inflatable banging plastic demons sponsored by Crocs or Kraft Foods or the local Autoplex. Let's just not go there.
But here is the deal. And here is the difference. We use noisemakers in America because we generally lack passion enough to produce organic noise from our own beings. And we're generally too lazy to do much noise-making even if we have all the zeal in the world. So we rely on gimmicky noisemakers that allow us the ability to make "supportive" noise while eating nachos and drinking a 72oz soft drink.
The South Africans, on the other hand, are so over-excited about their teams that they need more ways to make noise. So beyond singing and clapping, they grab the vuvuzela and start to blow. They blow in unison, creating deafening chants with the horns. They wave them in unison, creating impressive displays of spontaneous pseudo-choreographed support. And they dance all the while, celebrating not the ability to dominate on the pitch but the simple freedom to enjoy sport and recreation free from the deafening burdens of life as third-world slum-dwellers.
I love the vuvuzela and the departure it is from life as we know it. I love that it is an instrument of celebration for a people who for so long lacked something to celebrate. I love that in 2004 when the World Cup was awarded to South Africa, the streets immediately filled with the sound of the plastic trumpet and the din lasted long through the night. I love that FIFA has allowed the culture of the host nation to bleed through and that the uptight residents of the rest of the world are irritated by someone else's joyful noise. I love it all.
I love South Africans. I love the vuvuzela.