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Vuvuzela Day

Text by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu/Twenty Ten and photos by Andrew Esiebo

Associated features on vuvuzelas: Vuvuzela Madness (Photo gallery), Vuvuzela takes on the World (Text feature), Vuvuzelas with a difference (Photo feature about seaweed vuvuzelas), Vuvuzela Orchestra (Audio feature), Vuvuzela origins (Text feature)

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

On June 9, thousands of football fans filled the streets of Johannesburg in support of their national team, Bafana Bafana. The event, which was engineered by the government, offered an opportunity for people from different cultural, social, and academic backgrounds to unite in a countrywide celebration of the upcoming soccer spectacle.

In the space of an hour, social and cultural gaps were bridged as fans sang, danced and blew their vuvuzelas in celebration.

“My manager and I were so happy that we hugged. It happened for the first time in forty years and this was all thanks to the Bafana Bafana,” says Khosi in utter delight. He works as a cleaner for a Johannesburg-based company.

Such national unity was made possible by the South African government, as it instituted a “Vuvuzela Day” in support of Bafana Bafana who are scheduled to open the tournament against Mexico on Friday June 11 at Soccer City, Johannesburg.

The government's Vuvuzela Day initiative was an invitation for everyone to blow their vuvuzelas and even South African President, Jacob Zuma, was part of the celebration, as he came out waving his country's flag.

The excitement was such that, in some companies, South African jerseys were handed out to employees, further emphasising the importance of the day. “It is an expression of my patriotism,” explains Bino Silva, Italian manager of Diversified Paper & Plastic. Children also celebrated, as they gathered outside schools wearing South African jerseys.

Vuvuzelas in soccer games

The international soccer governing body, FIFA, recently legislated the use of vuvuzelas during World Cup games. The nationally famous horn, deriving its name from the 'vou vou' sound it makes, was reportedly unsettling players on the field. The ruling went in favour of the vuvuzela despite its deafening potential.

The vuvuzela, initially a horn used in church ceremonies, later became a prominent feature in sporting events. High demand eventually led to the mass-production of vuvuzelas around the country.

During local games, fans cans be identified by the colour of their vuvuzelas. The idea has been extended to the World Cup, as vuvuzelas have been manufactured in the colours of participating nations.

Only at its second World Cup participation, South Africa will face Mexico, an experienced team with thirteen appearances in the prestigious tournament. Nonetheless, optimism runs high, as most fans on Vuvuzela Day predicted a Bafana Bafana victory. Some even went as far as foretelling the score: 2-0. “Goals should be easy to score, as the Mexican goalkeeper is rather short and slow,” explains Dumisani.

South African fans intend to flood the Soccer City stadium and cheer Bafana Bafana to victory with the sound of their vuvuzelas.

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