Posted on August 30, 2021
Move over Jay Z, Drake and Eminem – and make way for University of Pretoria (UP) student Rostum Ogbuehi (Ross the Boss), the star of a music video that promotes vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.
This fifth-year Faculty of Health Sciences medical student features in a catchy rap video that dispels myths about getting vaccinated. The video has had at least 25 000 views on YouTube and Instagram, and the idea for it was initiated by the Dean of the Faculty, Professor Tiaan de Jager.
Ogbuehi says that through the faculty’s social media crew, Louis Cloete Productions, “the Dean reached out to me to compose a song and a video to aid with the promotion of vaccination”.
“I saw the importance of it and decided to go ahead with the project, and I must say, I am pleased with the outcome,” Prof De Jager says. “Within less than a week, the video had more than 15 000 hits on social media. It is becoming extremely popular, and we are receiving very positive feedback.”
Ogbuehi used information from UP’s Acting Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases, Prof Veronica Ueckermann, to craft the lyrics:
It’s not too late
Don’t procrastinate …
Hey, everybody, look they call me The Boss
The name’s Ross
Giving out information free of cost
Let’s talk about the contemplation we’re facing of the vaccination
Help, this dying generation
Vaccinate, let us try and heal the nation
Wait, but there’s a debate
People are wondering why we should vaccinate
First of all, prevention is better than cure
Second of all, getting the vaccination is not mandatory but it’s mandatory for you to know it’s your responsibility to keep you, your family and your community safe So do the right thing and vaccinate
“We have seen a low uptake in people getting vaccinated,” Prof De Jager says. “This is concerning, as we know that COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people getting the virus and can reduce the risk of spreading it. We were also one of the first Faculty of Health Sciences to open a vaccination site on campus. I believe it is our duty to serve the UP community [staff and students] and make sure that everybody has easy access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I understand the power of rap songs and that it can reach different age groups. I am very proud of our talented students who agreed to compose this unique rap song, and to contribute to the national and international drive to get people vaccinated.”
Other students who feature in the video are Vincent Mathenjwa (medicine), Reatlegile Mangope (oral hygiene) and Tsholofelo Mphahlele (medicine). “The video was shot on Prinshof Campus, at the Basic Medical Sciences building and in the Tswelopele lecture theatre complex,” Ogbuehi says. “The song is based on a Drake-type beat that I had stumbled across on YouTube. I really loved the beat and asked my brother Comrade Junior to remake it, but with some slight alterations to make it unique to me. I would say the song borders on hip-hop and rap, though it has a trap feel to it.”
Ogbuehi says that he believed listeners would connect better with him through a visual representation of the song. “The song alone is good by itself. But the icing on the cake was filming the music video; people need to see who the guy is that’s telling them to be vaccinated. Ultimately, I am trying to aid in the promotion of vaccinating through the University.”
Ogbuehi’s music journey began when he was in Grade 10, when another of his brothers, Dawins, introduced him to the world of hip-hop. “Since then, I’ve been devoted to the game of music,” Ogbuehi says. He explains that this is not his first collaboration with Prof De Jager. “In second year, I approached the Dean with a song that I had written and recorded titled ‘2nd Year’s Guide’. I felt like second year was one of the most difficult years, so I asked the Dean to assist me with promoting the song and video. He was eager and pleased to assist.”
Prof De Jager explains that in its efforts to be innovative and creative, the faculty hosts scientific webinars and has its own HSUP TV on YouTube. A webinar that addressed the use of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID19 had more than 17 000 views. As Director of the UP Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control, Prof De Jager’s team won a prestigious science communications award in the National Science and Technology Forum Awards a few years ago.
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