The Instrument Formerly Known As the Vuvuzela

The Instrument Formerly Known AsPhotos Courtesy of and 

Traditionally made and inspired from a kudu horn, the vuvuzela was used to summon distant villagers to attend community gatherings. Used most at football matches in South Africa, it became a symbol of South African soccer (football), which caught on worldwide at the 2010 World Cup preliminaries. Similar plastic horns to these horns, have been in use in Brazil and other Latin American countries since the 1960’s and marketed in the U.S. as “Stadium Horns” since then as well, but we’re still not sure exactly where the vuvuzela as we know it originated.

Unfortunately for it, the high sound pressure levels it creates at a close range can cause permanent hearing loss for unprotected ears. It’s sound level just a meter away from you is 120 dB(A), otherwise known as your pain threshold for hearing. Not surprising that after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, FIFA officials banned the vuvuzela.

Taking away unnecessarily loud noisemakers from diehard soccer fans during a World Cup is just cruel, though! Meet the revamped version of the vuvuzela; the caxirola (ka-SHE-rol-la). Just as colorful, just as plastic, and filled with tiny beads that make a lovely hissing sound when shook, the caxirola isn’t as dangerous to your hearing as the vuvuzela, and not quite as annoying to listen to. Don’t worry – the incessant buzzing is still loud enough that players have a hard time communicating and TV viewers think something is wrong with their reception. “The caxirola is not so dangerous as vuvuzela for the people who are going to be in the stadiums,” said Bernando Murta, one of the researchers. So all soccer fans are set for the 2014 World Cup, right?

Wrong. The new-and-improved horn has gotten itself banned from the tournament venues, and somehow managed to become infamous even faster than its predecessor. We owe our thanks to fans of the Brazilian soccer clubs Victoria and Bahia, since last April, they threw the horns onto the field, while in play. Action was suspended, and FIFA officials flipped. Sure, the vuvuzela sets off tone sensors, but the caxirola is now a weapon. Never underestimate the sting of a lightweight, recyclable plastic missile disguised as an innocent noisemaker. No soccer player wants one of those hurled into his or her face, off or on field. Therefore, Brazil’s Minister of Justice has declared that the instruments are banned  from being carried into the stadiums on game days.