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South Africa's World Cup headwear

2010-05-21 07:37:56 GMT2010-05-21 15:37:56 (Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Makarapa fan helmet creator hopes their brightly painted hats will be a hit and go global as thousands of soccer fans descend on South Africa for the World Cup.

If you don't recognise this hat now, you will soon as the soccer World Cup draws closer.

It's a South African Makarapa.

The decorated construction helmet is shaping up to be the must have accessory of the tournament.

The son of inventor Alfred Baloyi - who now shuns speaking to journalists - sees fame and fortune for their small business.

"We are gonna make a lot of money and then people around the world they will know that there is makarapa, then makarapa was established in South Africa those years. So, we are hoping that whoever any event in the world must come to buy makarapa."

The first hats had a more practical use - protecting fans heads from flying bottles.

Baloyi saw their potential and began selling a few designs by the roadside.

Since then, business has boomed and they've sold thousands.

A work force of 35 painters, cutters and artists are now employed to meet the expected demand.

And as business has grown so have the designs - of course you have South Africa, but there are others like the USA and Argentina.

You can even get designs based on your favourite players.

But one thing you won't see on top of the hats is the FIFA logo.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) ALFRED BALOYI'S SON, LOVEMORE BALOYI, SAYING:

"Yes, we don't make the logos. So we need to be careful about that because we are going to get sued. You see. Yah. As you can see this project it's from the squatter camp. it's not something that came from the suburb or the location, it's from the squatter camp.

A Makarapa costs from about 30 U.S. dollars, but more elaborate designs can cost nearly 200 dollars.

Combine the hat with the cacophonous blast of the vuvuzela trumpets.

And it's shaping up to be a colourful and noisy World Cup.

Ian Lee Reuters

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