For a literal answer to, “Where is that noise coming from?” This one’s no surprise: It’s China. Reports say 90 percent of the vuvuzela horns being sold at the World Cup 2010 games in South Africa were made in Chinese factories. In preparation for the tournament, some factories were up pushing 200,000 horns a day; currently some factories are producing up to 20,000 units a day to keep up with demand as the noisemaker projects itself outside the world of World Cup and into new realms, like baseball stadiums.
This year is turning out to be the winner for the vuvuzela, but it’s not the first time Chinese manufacturers have tried to get a buzz going for the horns. Wu Yijun, who manages a Ninghai Jiying plastics factory in China’s eastern coastal city of Ningbo, says the plant had developed the vuvuzela back in 2001 and has been trying to sell it since, even failing to get it into Germany’s World in 2006.
Now that the buzz has caught on, some manufacturers forsee vuvuzela fever continuing beyond the World Cup tournament. If that racket makes you shudder, listen to this: South African Neil Van Schalkwyk, who first produced and marketed the vuvuzela horn in 2001 and owns the name, plans to continue selling the horns with pairs of earplugs included.