of uncertain origin
According to Point (Issue 2, May 2010), the newsletter of the South African intellectual property firm Spoor & Fisher, a number of individuals applied to the South African Registrar of Trade Marks beginning in 2003 for the legal rights to vuvuzela; apparently none of these applications were accepted. The history of the word prior to the trademark claims is obscure. According to press reports from 2010, a fan of the Kaizer Chiefs football club of Johannesburg, Freddie Maake, claimed to have invented the horn and publicized it in a 1999 ten-track album called “Vuvuzela Cellular.” Note that “Vuvuzela” was earlier (1995) the name of a popular song by the musician Arthur Mafokate, a pioneer of kwaito (a South African dance music genre); it is not clear if there is a more precise link between the song or its lyrics and the horn. The hypothesis that the word has been borrowed from Zulu has not been substantiated. Words similar in form, as vumvuzela, a benefactive form of vumvuza, “scatter, sprinkle,” have no evident semantic relation.