Image via jobdestroyer.com (adapted from The Far Side)
The vuvuzela (English pronunciation: /vuːvuːˈzeɪlə/), also known as lepatata (its Tswana name) is a typical 65 cm (2.13 ft) plastic blowing horn that produces a loud, distinctive monotone note, typically around B♭3 (the B♭ below middle C). A similar instrument, known as the corneta, is used in Brazil and other Latin American countries. The intensity of these outputs depends on the blowing technique and pressure exerted.
Traditionally made and inspired from a kudu horn (also known as a kuduzela), the vuvuzela was used to summon distant villagers to attend community gatherings. The vuvuzela is most used at soccer matches in South Africa and it has become a symbol of South African soccer as the stadiums are filled with its loud and raucous sound that reflects the exhilaration of supporters. The intensity of the sound caught the attention of the global soccer community during the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in anticipation of South Africa hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The vuvuzela has been the subject of controversy. Its high sound pressure levels at close range can lead to permanent hearing loss for unprotected ears after extensive exposure, with a sound pressure of 120 dB(A) (the threshold of pain) at 1 metre (3.3 ft) from the horn opening.
The sound has been compared to a swarm of angry bees by TV viewers.
Today, it can be heard during second round matches between the Netherlands and Slovakia, as well as Brazil versus Chile. Væuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.