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Douglas Mpondi
Columbus State Community College

Douglas Mpondi

Soccer, culture, the vuvuzela and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa

The 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa is a cultural event in the eyes of South Africans in particular and the African continent as a whole. South Africa’s hosting a tournament of such magnitude for the first time is ‘Africa’s calling’.  The 2010 event is an African cultural phenomenon that will display Africa in its entirety because soccer is Africa’s most popular sport. When the tournament kicks off on June 11, 2010, between South Africa and Mexico, it is going to be a momentous event, for the sound of the vuvuzela will herald Africa’s place in world football. The vuvuzela is part and parcel of South African football culture. There is a controversy surrounding the vuvzela, a plastic horn that makes a vociferous noise like a swarm of bees. During and after the Conferedations Cup in June 2009 in South Africa, foreign radio and TV commentators, foreign soccer players, and foreign soccer fans felt that the ‘noisy’ vuvuzela should be banned from football matches. The FIFA President and the South African fans see nothing wrong with the vuzuzela because "It is African culture, we are in Africa and we have to allow them to practice their culture as much as they want to," We should not try to Europeanize an African World Cup”, said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.  "Vuvuzelas, drums and signing are part of African football culture. It is part of their celebration, it is part of their culture, so let them blow the vuvuzelas."

My paper will examine the relationship between soccer and culture in South Africa during the apartheid era to the present. I will also argue that the vuvuzela controversy is a non-issue because outsiders cannot tell South Africans how to celebrate their culture and their football. My analysis will also look at how there is always an ‘Afrophobia and Afropessimism’ from Western countries when Africa is about to show the world its positive side.

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