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Vuvuzela Democracy12 June 2010 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
The vuvuzela is not allowed to be longer than 1 meter according to the International Football Association FIFA. This measure was introduced to limit the amount of noise in South African football stadiums. Actually, this is rather pointless because even a shortened vuvuzela makes more than enough noise. Other hooters, kuduzelas (hooters made of antelope horn), scooter helmets and loudspeakers are strictly forbidden inside each of the FIFA World Cup venues. However an exception is made for the vuvuzela.
It is as if football players and spectators are inmates of Guantanamo Bay and have to cope with music deliberately played at the highest volume.
It did occur to me to question why you would want to watch a game whilst wearing a scooter helmet, but I assume the FIFA will have thought this through.
It is not all that easy to get sound from a vuvuzela; you need to handle it in the same way as a trumpet but when you are successful the result is ear-shattering.
Wikipedia informed me that the vuvuzela is mainly used during the last fifteen minutes of a game with the aim to ‘kill’ the opponent. A well-known South African proverb says: ‘A baboon is killed by a lot of noise’. I think this is a rather odd expression, you claim that the opposition consists of baboons. In any case the act of killing baboons is not a very compassionate pastime.
Meanwhile, every country has created a vuvuzela in its own colours. There must be an English version and the Dutch one is of course plain orange. Until now Dutch football fan paraphernalia consisted mostly of: the inflatable orange clog that can be worn on the head, the orange windmill (also carried on the head) and a quite recent addition: the skimpy orange beer dress. In The Netherlands entire streets have been painted orange.
Each game of the Dutch national team is attended by a Native American in full traditional dress, but in orange. In The Netherlands he is affectionately known as ‘the Indian’ and when mentioning this name everyone knows who you are talking about, but his connection with the Dutch is not entirely clear to me. The same is true for the vuvuzela.
The sound of the vuvuzela is ear-shattering. I think it is comparable to silencers on motors that make the sound of an airplane taking off; cars that pass by on lovely summer days with loudspeakers spitting out rap at full blast; loud grunting during a tennis match; and people who refuse to keep their dogs on a leash. In short it is a form of marking down one’s territory.
It doesn’t bare thinking about having to listen to 60,000 Scotsmen playing their pipes in the stands, or 80,000 Spanish with their guitars, 40,000 Jamaicans and their steel drums or 20,000 Swiss with alpenhorns.
Last week we had a general election in The Netherlands. The Dutch political parties have never before been fractured to this extent. Even the largest party didn’t get more than 20% of the votes. This is truly a ‘hung parliament’; it is virtually impossible to form a government. Nonetheless, almost every party managed to celebrate the results as an enormous victory.
At the celebrations of the PVV, the party headed by Geert Wilders, the extreme rightwing politician with the Mozart-like hair, people took to singing football songs. ‘Thank you Wilders, thank you Wilders, Wilders, Wilders, thank you Wilders!’ Yes, thanks Geert, you have yet again managed to put us in a bad (orange) light abroad. The Netherlands used to be associated with Johan Cruijff, now this role is taken over by Geert Wilders.
We live in a ‘vuvuzela democracy’. Everyone trumpets their opinions over one another or tries to raise their voice the loudest. Who is best at blowing his own trumpet? Geert Wilders is the vuvuzela of Dutch politicians.
In the mean time, I do enjoy watching football. The opening ceremony of the World Cup featured the song Hope, performed by the recently deceased Siphiwo Ntshebe; magnificent. The opening ceremony had just the perfect duration and everyone was included, black and white. There was even a dancing Desmond Tutu without vuvuzela. There is always hope.
When watching football matches on TV I turn off the sound, just as I do when Geert Wilders speaks in parliament. I replace his sound with the real Mozart. Quite frankly I am hooted out.
© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press
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