Blowing Your Own Trumpet: Vuvuzela Etiquette

‘Seventy-six trombones led the big parade
With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand.
They were followed by rows and rows of the finest virtuo-
Sos, the cream of ev’ry famous band’ (
76 Trombones from ‘The Music Man’)

Vuvuzelas

The start of the 2010 World Cup has brought a new and unexpected celebrity to the world’s attention: the vuvuzela. This South African trumpet-esque instrument is blown at matches (in England we’d have a claxon) by the spectators. It’s caused television viewers to complain, as they’ve been unable to concentrate on matches due to the din of thousands of vuvuzelas; when all blown in one constant stream they do sound like a swarm of wasps.

The argument for not banning the vuvuzelas has been that people have free will and as they are not harming anyone then why should football’s governing body, Fifa, intervene? Then of course there is the ‘when in Rome’ argument: the vuvuzelas are a native instrument to South Africa and by banning their use would be a snub to the host country.

So what to do? Utilitarianism would say that we should worry about the greatest good for the greatest number, and so the opinions of the worldwide television audience would take priority over the spectators at the stadiums, and thus the vuvuzelas be banned. However, the ‘when in Rome’ counter-argument is, in my opinion, equally as worthwhile. When we are visiting other countries we should respect their customs and cultures and not just march in and expect it to be England abroad: we have to adapt. But then of course the TV audience is not in South Africa, they are in their own homes… it’s a tough one, but the tournament only goes on for a month (I never thought that I’d ever say ‘only goes on for a month’) and so we should probably just put up with it for the time being… or do what I’m doing… and not watch any of the matches at all!

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

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1 Response to “Blowing Your Own Trumpet: Vuvuzela Etiquette”


  1. 1 Jay Remer 4 July 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I am more of the ‘when in Rome’ persuasion. I remember going to Morocco and being told I would never be able to sleep because of the blaring of horns calling people to prayer, which happens quite regularly and often. I admit it was somewhat annoying at first, but I became quite used to it quickly and my ear incorporated into my routine with no problem, sort of like the honk of taxi horns in New York City, which I don’t even seem to hear any more. My guess is that this ability to acclimate to one’s surroundings is shared by most of us. Show real respect for the host country means dealing with the whole package. If that is not possible, remember you have choices. William wisely chose not to be a participant. Others must not complain but accept this as a learning experience. Jus’ sayin’.


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