Vuvuzela And The Bokke

I’m a big supporter of sport as a mechanism of nation-building in South Africa. In our fragile society it is probably the most successful leveler of us as a nation, irrespective of race, culture or religion. The problem is that we only seem to come together as a nation when our national sporting teams are winning.

In any event, the two sports which probably have been responsible for the biggest up swell of nation-building at various times are soccer and rugby.

Our national soccer team, Bafana Bafana has never won the world cup, although we did win the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996. The symbol most associated with South African soccer is the very unique vuvuzela. A long trumpet-like instrument, it makes a loud honking sound that will scare the living daylights out of anyone not expecting the blast of ear-splitting sound. The sounds of cheering and commentating are drowned out by its power.

During the World Cup tournament held in South Africa in 2010 this became a controversial talking point because no one outside of South Africa knew about it. Overseas players and fans got quite the culture shock (and many ear plugs were sold by pharmacies country-wide) when they heard it for the first time.

It is a hazard to one’s hearing and if blown in close range will ensure ringing of the ears for a while afterwards and can cause permanent hearing loss for unprotected ears. It’s not everybody that can blow into one of these things and make a noise though. It takes real skill and practice for it not to come out as an embarrassing “pffiiittt”.

The South African national rugby team are known as the Springboks, our national animal. The Springboks are relatively successful and have won the world cup twice, in 1995 and 2007. No vuvuzelas in rugby, but rather beer, biltong and naartjies. The rugby world cup starts on Friday in England and once again we have our hopes pinned on one of our national teams, affectionately known as “The Bokke”.

Springbok and vuvuzela - reginamartins.com
Springbok and vuvuzela

 

6 thoughts on “Vuvuzela And The Bokke”

  1. Hi Regina,
    To just let you know I will be rooting for the Springboks to be in solidarity with my neigbours. At least South Africa has three sports which get the nation rallying together, Rugby, football and cricket. As a nationZimbabwe struggles to get even one sport to get us rallying together without party politics exploiting the sport. Our cricket team flourished once,until politics spoiled the party. Our football team the Warriors were making headlines under Fabisch and politics got in and we never got to Africa cup of nations. Atheletics thanks to Kirsty Coventry who against odds perservered and kept our nation on the map with her swimming now that she is retiring there will not be anything neutral to bring us together.
    I am pleased that South Africa still has something which can break the barriers. Thank you for your well thought out post which has really got me the thinking. I wish the Springboks the best in the world cup as I said I will be behind them as a neigbour.
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    1. Thank you Mabel :-), I hope we’ll all be celebrating in October.
      It’s such a pity that party politics gets in the way. It’s getting to be like that here, I hope that reasonable people will keep it at bay. Zim has a great cricket culture. I didn’t write about cricket because I don’t follow it and know little about it.

  2. Interesting stuff! Would prefer not to hear the outrageous sound in person. Love, love, love American football! Many people here mourn when the season is over.

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