Now let’s hear it for the Zazu!

2009-06-27 00:00

A NEW wind instrument that promises steep competition for the ­vuvuzela is set to take the country by storm soon.

The Zazu, a wind instrument patterned on the shape of a kudu horn, is the brainchild of Fanie Neethling, a Johannesburg entrepreneur in the jewellery industry.

While the vuvuzela has caused considerable controversy during the Confederations Cup, the Zazu has a deeper sound that is gentler on the ear — and it can produce up to seven different notes, says Neethling.

What is more, the design of this plastic horn is “something classic and truly African”.

“And its patent holder isn’t a ­human being. It is Mother Earth.”

Neethling likes developing patents. This one all started years ago when, after having shot a kudu bull, he took one of the horns and attached a mouthpiece to the end of it. “At that point I did actually think of the vuvuzela, but I wanted to do something totally different.”

While kudu horns have been used as wind instruments for decades, the hole for blowing into has traditionally always been made in the side of the horn. Just as in the case of the vuvuzela this means that the pitch can’t change, Neethling explained. But with a mouthpiece at the end of it he could suddenly control the sound and produce different notes.

However, it was only about two years ago, in the run-up to this year’s Confederations Cup and next year’s Soccer World Cup, that he decided to apply himself to doing something about the concept.

So he summoned the help of Brian Steinhobel, one of South Africa’s leading product developers, and then asked Eustace Wilken, a professional trumpeter, to help him with the mouthpiece.

And hey presto, three months ago he held his first full-fledged Zazu in his hands. “It was unbelievable — it looked like a work of art.”

It can be manufactured in every colour of the rainbow (nation).

MTN, Coca-Cola and Budweiser, as well as several spazas, have already contacted him about possible orders. With production due to start in three weeks’ time, these brightly-coloured kudu horns will hit the streets as early as August this year.

Moreover, a well-known international cricketer may want to use it in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Neethling disclosed.

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