The vuvuzela is a plastic horn that produces a single note when blown into. It has been used around the world but popularized by the sheer number of people in the audience at the FIFA World Cup in 2010 who had them, leading to an constant annoying, droning buzz over the entire length of the tournament.
The origin of the vuvuzela traces back to early Africa. It is known in Tswana as a "lepatata", which literally means "to make a vu-vu sound", and the act of blowing one is referred to as vu-vuing. Who exactly invented the lepatata is unknown,, as several parties have claimed ownership of the invention. These parties range from a simple fan named Freddie Maake, to the Baptist Church.
The modern uses of the vuvuzela are primarily for those of sport. The first widespread use of a vuvuzela was in 2002 during African soccer matches. They are known mainly for the terribly irritating sound produced during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Many fans bring a vuvuzela coloured to their favourite team into the stadium to support their team. of choice. The Internet was so full of people complaining about the sound during the World Cup that popular video site YouTube temporarily added a "vuvuzela button" to their videos, which would overlay the buzz of a vuvuzela to any video.
The vuvuzela has many concerns associated with it. The primary being the sheer annoyance the horn produces when played en masse. Many public television stations have used a type of audio filtration called Notch Filtering to filter out the noise so the fans watching at home could better enjoy the game and hear the commentary more clearly. There are also health issues associated with the vuvuzela. Some even come with warnings on the horn.
As a result of these concerns, the following venues and events have banned the device:
All sporting events at the Cardiff City, SWALEC and Millennium Stadiums, on pain of execution
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Fuji Rock Festival
The Southeastern Conference of US college sports
Ultimate Fighting Championship events
Gaelic Athletic Association events
The 2011 Rugby World Cup
Atlanta Thrashers Home Games
Kontinental Hockey League
In addition, the public use of vuvuzelas with the potential of producing 100 decibel or higher sounds has been banned by the United Arab Emirates, as they believe the potential hearing damage violates the Islamic law "never do or cause any harm."
In response to their growing popularity at soccer events, the following Premier League clubs have banned their use in their stadiums:
West Ham United
Bans are also being considered by Newcastle United, Manchester United, and Blackpool. The instruments are explicitly allowed by Manchester City F.C. and Stoke City F.C, with the remaining clubs having not publicly disclosed any discussion regarding the issue.
As a testament to the connection between pop culture and that specific event, vuvuzelas can be heard in the background in appropriate stadiums in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, including all venues of the 2010 FIFA World Cup itself. For those who would rather not hear the instrument, there is a volume setting in the audio menu specifically dedicated to the vuvuzela.