On June 11 the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted by South Africa begins. This is the world’s largest sporting event.
If you would like to visit our country at this exciting time, South African Airways confirms that for ‘late-bookers’ wanting to travel from Australia and other countries, there are still limited seats available. For Australian visitors the toll-free number is 1 300 435 972 and the contact person firstname.lastname@example.org For general bookings anywhere else in the world, please visit the website. Thank you!
In a previous article, in the spirit of encouraging greater understanding, I outlined some areas of diversity that visitors to South Africa might find helpful.
As a communications consultant living in the host country, South Africa, I’m delighted to share a few more insights that may be of interest to you and make your visit more enjoyable. And even if you are from the host nation, you may not know enough about these aspects of our soccer (football) culture. This background will also help you to converse in a knowledgeable way!
1. The Vuvuzela calls
As mentioned in the Qantas March 2010 in-flight magazine when referring to the football fan culture, ‘South Africans love to celebrate their players and teams – generally without indulging in the hooliganism that plagues other countries – with a rich tradition of chants, gadgets and rituals’.
The vuvuzela is a brightly coloured long trumpet-shaped instrument made of plastic. As far as I’m aware, no-one is really sure of the origins and there are a plethora of stories explaining its origins and initial purpose.
Fans take their instruments to matches and the noise is very loud, so loud in fact that opposing teams at last year’s Confederation Cup lodged a complaint that the noise affected their ability to hear and to concentrate. Attempts were made to ban the vuvuzela from the FIFA World Cup. FIFA took this proposal seriously but at the time of writing this blog, to the best of my knowledge, the host nation's response that ‘the vuvuzela is essential to a South African footballing experience’ prevails. There will be plenty of these colourful trumpets at the matches – and as souvenirs for people traveling abroad!
When I arrived in Sydney recently, we were met at the airport by our daughter. We were telling her about the excitement in South Africa and the different 2010 FIFA World Cup items on sale at the Oliver Thambo International Airport in Johannesburg. As I told her about the prominence of the vuvuzela, I realized that I needed to explain. As I described she excitedly said, ‘oh I wondered what all those brightly coloured pipes were sticking out of most people hand-luggage as they arrived’. While waiting for us to come through customs, she had observed may people from our flight carrying these instruments. And this was 70 days before the start of the event in South Africa!
2. The ‘makarapa’ headgear
At Oliver Thambo International airport in Johannesburg, I was also fascinated to see some very interesting items of headgear. I didn’t have time to investigate but was delighted to read a description in the Qantas' magazine (the SAA flight is code-shared with Qantas and their planes are used on the Johannesburg~Sydney route). ‘These decorated construction hard hats will become the fashion statement of the World Cup. The makarapas is cut, twisted and painted into a fabulous headdress to give a look that is part sorcerer, part jester. Created 30 years ago by a cleaner who wore his hard hat after he saw a fan hit on the head by a bottle, the makarapas became a hit. Now covered with football imagery, it has become and improvised art form in its own right’
So, a makarapa would be a good souvenir to wear on your trip home – it certainly could lead to quality conversation!
3. Chants and rituals
The popular chant for the national team is ‘Shosholoza’. Fans chant this as a form of encouragement to their team. This was sung originally, as far as I can establish by migrant Zimbabweans traveling to work on the mines in South Africa. However, it is a Zulu word which means ‘go forward’ and is perceived as a positive form of encouragement.
When the home team scores, the chant will be ‘laduma’ which means ‘it thunders’. The vuvuzela, makarapa and chants are all part of the South African soccer (football) culture. I hope that knowing this background will help you to enjoy your stay even more. And, of course, weaving this into your conversation will help you to build positive relationships. The rewards are great. Remember to ‘listen – comment – question’ and you’ll enjoy quality conversation which can lead to positive relationships.
However, if you choose to return home wearing your makarapa while blowing your own vuvuzela and intermittently chanting ‘Shosholoza’ you won’t have much chance for dialogue. But you could be the ‘conversation piece’ (those of you who have been to my workshops will know what I’m talking about) and that could also be very interesting! Have Fun!