Anthems are sacred songs

LIKE individuals or families, each nation has some embarrassing quirks that it would rather hide from the prying eyes of outsiders.

Many such foibles are inherited. In the case of the Chinese the habit of spitting in the street is one such oddity. It posed an embarrassing dilemma for the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) and government just before China hosted the 2008 Olympics.

So, long before the games the COC launched an ambitious campaign to arrest this habit. It paid off since spitting was significantly reduced during the event.

South Africa has more than its fair share of unacceptable eccentricities and one squirms in embarrassment in anticipation of some locals relieving themselves in the streets or the spectre of colourful, nauseating phlegm spewed on the ground, etc.

But more that anything I am ashamed when soccer fans blow vuvuzelas during the singing of national anthems. I find it utterly disrespectful. Maybe our literacy levels have something to do with it, but this is still inexcusable.

National anthems are symbolic of nations. They are the equivalent of a country's motto, crest or flag. Because they are ceremonial, universally recognised forms of etiquette are involved when anthems are sung.

Among such etiquette is the need to stand to attention, remove head gear, remain silent and not chew.

And vuvuzelas should not be blared immediately after the singing of anthems!

Our institutions, especially the LOC and the SABC, were supposed to mount educational campaigns to instil good values of decorum in the national psyche.

It is such small "things" on which the rest of us will be judged .

Dan Motaung, Tembisa