The Spiritual and the Profane
[col. writ. 6/16/10] (c) '10 Mumia Abu-Jamal
The sounds of vuvuzelas, tens of thousands of them, have become the buzzing background for the World Cup, the megasized sports event held in South Africa.
The vuvuzela, as every spectator knows, is the long, plastic, tube-like instrument that resembles an elongated trumpet, without keys. While an omnipresent pest to Western sportscasters, it is a thing of joy to South African soccer fans, as it expresses their exuberance.
This instrument, which creates a sound likened to a maddened wasp hive, didn't begin as a tool of sports enthusiasm.
It was an instrument of religious expression, used by the Shembe church movement, originating in South Africa in the early 1900's under the leadership of the African prophet, Isaiah Shembe, in a distinctive synthesis between Zulu culture and Christianity. Shembe founded the Nazareth Church in 1910. Today it has hundreds of thousands of members in KwaZulu-Natal, the ancient homeland of the AmaZulu.
The Shembe Church holds pilgrimages of believers who retrace Shembe's footsteps, in bare feet, to the holy mountain, Mount Nhlangakazi.
Church elder, Ref. Goga, speaking of his church, said, "Jesus for Israel, we believe Isaiah Shembe is an African prophet and on a higher level than Jesus."
The Shembe play the vuvuzelas using the lower tones.
In this year's pilgrimage, over 300,000 men and women, clad in white robes, made the trek to their holy mountain, accompanied by the low tones of the vuvuzelas.
--(c) '10 maj
[Source: "Unholy Row Over World Cup Trumpet," The African Times, (Africa Watch) May 1-15, 2010, p.3.)