Symbols of pride

2009-08-21 12:15

LOVE them or hate them, makarapa, and vuvuzela are unique and proudly South African products that have been entrenched in the game of football.

Makarapa, as the protective miners’ hat is fondly called, stands out like a sore thumb in soccer crowds and goes hand in hand with the vuvuzela, making the two pieces Mzansi’s most sought-after fan regalia.

The ongoing Fifa Confederations Cup is just one event where makarapa of different sizes and shapes have been on full display.

Prominent Orlando Pirates’ fan Johannes “Mzion” Mofokeng, who hails from Sebokeng in the Vaal, says he owns 21 different makarapa.

His Kaizer Chiefs’ counterpart, Freddy “Saddam” Maake, has packed his storeroom in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, with over 300.

“Each one is for a different occasion,” boasts Mofokeng, who hails from Sebokeng.

He turns out in the Confederations Cup with a unique design for each game.

His hat carries mini portraits of Sepp Blatter, Kaizer Motaung, Irvin Khoza, Molefi Oliphant and Danny Jordaan.

“I wear these guys with pride. They contributed significantly in bringing us the Fifa World Cup,” he chuckles.

The twins that are makarapa and vuvuzela have transformed rapidly and have earned themselves top positions in the regalia lists of fans.

Some companies have even already gone to courts of law claiming ownership of the two products.

There are contradictory stories as to who invented the two items.

“I copied it from legendary Kaizer Chiefs’ fans such as ntate Mguyo (Samuel Temane) and Saddam. I fell in love with makarapa in the early 70s,” recalls Mofokeng.

Sadly, Temane has been undergoing rehabilitation after falling off the roof of his house about four years ago.

Moroka Swallows’ fan Thomas Mokhari, who says he has followed “The Birds’” for over two decades, also admits to having jumped onto the makarapa bandwagon.

“I am not sure who came up with the concept but I found it cool and unique. I don’t collect many, though, as I own just three and they boast Swallows colours,” he says.

The history of makarapa dates back to the early ’70s, according to Mofokeng and Maake.

The men who have been credited with turning the hard hat into an established piece of fan attire are Temane and Maake. They also claim to be the first to introduce the huge makeshift sunglasses that go with the hat.

Alfred “Lux” Baloyi, another diehard Chiefs’ fan, is hailed as the man who gave makarapa the artistic touch. He says he first put his artistic skills to the test when he turned his Pretoria council uniform into a unique Chiefs supporters’ gear.

“There were hooligans who used to hit us with missiles in the olden days,” says Baloyi, “ so one day I felt that there was a need to add club colours to my helmet. I feel honoured to be utilised up until now as a makarapa designer for individuals and corporate companies,” adds Baloyi, whose selling price has escalated from a mere R7 in 1979 to a cool R200 a helmet today.

The vuvuzela recently came under heavy criticism from some of the foreign media covering the Confed Cup.

Nonetheless, the “noisy horn” is growing in stature and shape.

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