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World-renowned DJ/producer Ralf Gum is one self-employed comrade who has taken a homemade South African product – pap – and turned it into a musical movement. 

The movement started last year when the German-born South African resident produced a classic hit single, The Pap – featuring American singer-songwriter, Monique Bingham – as a tribute to the iconic food. 

Since the release of the tune that earned a top spot in various radio station charts, the popularity of Pap – a traditional South African porridge made from mielie-meal – has reached many countries in different continents. 

House music loyalists might have thought Gum’s musical affair with pap would remain musical and continued to entertain nightclubs, radio stations and television music programmes; however, the GOGO Music record label founder had other ideas. His partnership with pap has been upgraded and could also be spotted in the township’s public schools, in the spirit of giving back to the community.     

Last week, Wednesday, pupils of Mvelaphanda Primary School, in Tembisa, Gauteng, were in the presence of greatness, a special visitor by the name of Ralf Gum – whose 25-year-old production skills have been a blessing to the world of house music followers.

No, the humble disk jockey – whose latest chart-topping album, In My City, has been one of the most celebrated records of 2014 in the motherland – was not booked to perform his DJ set for the kids. Shoprite teamed up with Gum for this event to mark the retailer’s subsidised maize promotion currently running in stores.

His mission, together with Shoprite, was to serve pap as well as handing out stationary sets to each hundreds of adorable faces of Tembisa-based primary school – for free! More importantly, to deliver his motivational speech to the country’s future leaders about the importance of education. The scheduled mission was accomplished without a hustle and the younger ones were in a celebratory mood. 

Mvelaphanda Primary School pupils queuing to collect handouts of free food. Picture credit: Facebook.

What a day. Free lunch, free stationery set, hanging out with their idol, an incredible day to remember for the next generation of stars. But as for Ralf, these energetic little ones left him speechless with their knowledge of his music, the surprising discovery that was not part of his menu. 

“It is amazing to see that kids at their age already know my music (grade 1 to 4),” the Take Me To My Love house anthem producer told The Voice of SA.

Ralf – whose first musical visit to the African continent, in 2008, influenced his decision to emigrate to the world’s current hot-bed for Soulful house music, Südafrika, years later – was humbled by the experience.

“Being able to help was the highlight itself already, but as well to be able to share some motivation with the kids was great. To see the curiosity of the kids and gratefulness for any support was humbling,” he said. 

Sharing the experience with nearly a quarter of a million Facebook fans, the self-confessed food lover wrote: “You probably never can equalize a society, but therefore those who are able to, always should give back to the community. 

“Hence I am happy I was able to hand out food and a stationary set together with Shoprite to all pupils of the Mvelaphanda Primary School this morning [Wednesday].”

With his contribution to the country’s musical growth and the passion to uplift the community, Ralf’s loyalty to the nation he calls second home cannot be questioned. As Pitso Kose, one of his Facebook fans, puts it: “This guy [Ralf Gum] is [a] blessing to SA.”

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Freelance Journalist

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