The FIFA 2010 World Cup runs for the next 30 days, people. Dazzle your friends with your knowledge by studying up on the South African words you’re going to hear tossed around during the games.
Bafana Bafana is the Zulu name of the South African soccer team, and translates literally to “the boys! The boys!” Umfana means boy, and bafana is the plural version. Basically, South Africans consider their soccer team as sons, and they LOVE them. Go Bafana Bafana!
The vuvuzela is a giant horn used by fans, and it’s the deafening drone you’ll hear for the next month if you’re tuning into the matches. The horn claims its African descent from the kudu horn, which was used to call villagers to meeting. South African folklore has it that “A baboon is killed by a lot of noise”, so during the last quarter of a match, African fans traditionally blow vuvuzelas like crazy in an attempt to “kill off” the opposing team.
The makarapa is a hand-made painted hard hat worn by soccer super-fans around the world. People spend days perfecting their personal makarapas, which often feature the team flag, a favorite player and pretty much anything else a person wants to use to express their fandom. They are ornate, colorful and pretty obnoxious if you’re the guy seated behind a makarapa-wearer.
Madiba is Nelson Mandela’s Xhosa clan name, and South Africa hopes to see Mandela come support and inspire his nation’s team with Mandiba Magic. Sadly, Mandela suffered a personal tragedy on Thursday when his young granddaughter was killed in a car crash. The already frail 91 year old will likely not make an appearance to share his Madiba Magic.
Jabulani is the actual name of the ball being used by the FIFA 2010 World Cup. Made by Adidas, the Jabulani ball is built to be the roundest, most technically perfect ball in the world. In Zulu, Jo’bukani means “to Celebrate”, and judging by the World Cup fever that has overtaken the planet, it’s a pretty great name for a soccer ball.
Zakumi is the 2010 World Cup’s popular leopard mascot, who takes his name from the country code for South Africa (“za”) and the word many African languages use for “ten” (“kumi”). He’s cute, he’s cuddly, and he wants to eat your face off.
Shakira’s World Cup song Waka Waka (This Time For Africa) makes us think of Fozzy Bear from the mupets, but really, Waka is a Swahili word for blaze, burn brightly or shine. So shine shine on, Africa!