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vuvuzela unPlugged Initiative drives home health risks of the African horn, whilst stimulating the local economy...
[ By Tracey Brits on 2 April, 2010 ]

We've all enjoyed the unplugged versions of songs that are characterised by wailing electric guitars. Now a project named "vuvuzela unplugged"(TM) plans to unplug or at least tone down the ear splitting vuvuzelas that characterise South African soccer but have been the centre of controversy during the run up to the 2010 World Cup.

It is not without reason that vuvuzela means "making a lot of noise" and that, after the Confederations Cup in South Africa, it was said to emit deafening elephant sounds in the German media. On one side of the cultural divide are locals who believe that silencing the vuvuzela, which has evolved from the traditional African horn that was blown to summon tribes to meetings, would signify cultural intolerance. On the other hand, many feel that the vuvuzela could prove the ultimate culture shock for visiting players and soccer fans.

Vuvuzela unPlugged

The vuvuzela has already been branded a nuisance by some South Africans who have complained of everything from headaches to sore ears. Overseas soccer bodies have called for it to be outlawed.

Local soccer fans believe that its unique African sound has a place at a quintessentially African event. The medical fraternity has gone all out to prove that the vuvuzela can damage hearing at large sporting events and even music concerts. As a result of this raging controversy, soccer fans have been advised to bring earplugs to matches.

The "vuvuzela unplugged"(TM) initiative, encourages companies to provide earplugs as corporate gifts to VIP guests and employees for use at home, on planes or at events. It is the result of twelve months of dedicated efforts by the Uthango social enterprise team to find the ideal ear filter that is also medically tested.

PerfectFit earplugs, which are highly respected and widely used in both the industrial and medical fields, are distributed under the brand "vuvuzela unplugged". The earplugs effectively fracture sound waves and reduce the sound intensity in accordance with limits specified by the SABS. This means they provide a NRR (noise reduction rate) of 28, and protect the ear without blocking out all noise and hence the vibe within the stadium.

This project has an important direct socio-economic impact due to the fact that the earplugs are manufactured in South Africa and assembled by 120 people with disabilities who earn a direct income from this initiative. It also contributes financially to Uthango's pro-poor projects in South Africa and demonstrates the creative way in which Uthango approaches fund raising whilst focusing on universal human rights.

In this case, two are paramount - "Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits" and "Everyone has the right to a standard of living that is adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family."

Now all that remains is to spread more awareness about the health risks associated with the vuvuzela, and then celebrate this African horn by blowing your vuvuzela and getting your vuvuzela unplugged(TM)...

UPDATE: Neil van Schalkwyk, the commercial inventor of the vuvuzela, has decided to support Uthango's social enterprise as part of his social responsibility. Details to follow.

Read More about this latest project and support it via the vuvuzela unPlugged project site. Thank you for your interest! We also request that you spread the news via the Twitter button at the bottom of this page.

Vuvuzela unPlugged

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