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Forgive, dear Reader, my lack of attention. There’s been a distraction, you understand. Yes, soccer. Watching the games, I find myself reaching for the mute button on the remote a lot. Mainly when the commentary gets irritating. And also that monotonous vuvuzela racket. But it was not always thus.

the traditional horn

The kudu horn has a more solemn intonation. And fewer decibels. The man who gave us the vuvuzela is a 37 year Capetonian called Neil van Schalkwyk, who has sold 800 000 of them, including an order for 40 000 from Sainsbury’s in London. He now also makes a slightly less noisy version, but will the cheap Chinese vuvus be so too? Sadly, Van Schalkwyk was unable to patent his invention. After all, the horn has been around for a while:

Nicolas Poussin 'The triumph of Pan' 1635

I actually like the vuvuzela. It stands for African spontaneity and ebullience. But Mondli Makhanya‘s point – that we’ve replaced songs like Shosholoza with a plastic cacophony- is true. Go to a game with 50 000 of those at full blast? No thanks, I’ll be watching at home. Sticking close to the mute button.

J H Pierneef’s Station Panels are cornerstones of South African landscape painting. They were placed in the old Johannesburg Station as adverts to travel the country.

But did these alluring places ever really exist? And how have they changed?

Taking up the invitation to travel 80 years later, Carl Becker set off to find out.

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