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I'll let you in on a secret: Vuvuzelas are wildly overrated. I understand why the South African noisemakers have drawn so much attention at this World Cup--you can't avoid them on the global TV broadcasts--but what's unfortunate is thatthe vuvuzelas have overshadowed a South African soccer tradition that is infinitely more creative and cool.

I'm talking about the makarapa. You've probably seen fans wearing makarapas in the stands here. They're the plastic hardhats that feature hand-painted designs and raised cut-out sections in support of the teams at the World Cup. I recently visited the originator of the makarapa, a South African man named Alfred Baloyi, at his production studio here with SI photographer Simon Bruty.

By Grant Wahl.

Photo: Simon Bruty/SI

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