Africa (Toto song)

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Toto - Africa.jpg
U.S. 7-inch (180 mm) shaped picture disc edition
Single by Toto
from the album Toto IV
B-side "Good for You" (The Americas)[1]
"We Made It" (international)[1]
Released May 10, 1982 (1982-05-10) (Europe)
October 30, 1982 (1982-10-30) (U.S.)
Format 7", 12", CD single
Recorded October 18, 1981 (1981-10-18)
Genre Pop rock, soft rock[2]
Length 4:55 (album version)
4:21 (radio edit)
7:05 (extended)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) David Paich, Jeff Porcaro
Producer(s) Toto
Toto singles chronology
"Make Believe"
"I Won't Hold You Back"
Music video
Toto - Africa on YouTube
Audio sample

"Africa" is a 1982 song by the American rock band Toto. It was included on their 1982 album Toto IV, and released as a single on September 30, 1982. It reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart on February 5, 1983 and number three on the UK Singles Chart the same month. The song was written by the band's keyboardist/vocalist David Paich and drummer Jeff Porcaro.


The initial idea and words for the song came from David Paich. Jeff Porcaro explains the idea behind the song: "a white boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he's never been there, he can only tell what he's seen on TV or remembers in the past."[3]

Songwriter David Paich said:

"At the beginning of the '80s I watched a late night documentary on TV about all the terrible death and suffering of the people in Africa. It both moved and appalled me, and the pictures just wouldn't leave my head. I tried to imagine how I'd feel about if I was there and what I'd do."[4]

In 2015 Paich explained the song is about a man's love of a continent: Africa, rather than just a personal romance.[5]

Musically, the song took quite some time to assemble, as Paich and Porcaro explain:

On "Africa" you hear a combination of marimba with GS 1. The kalimba is all done with the GS 1; it's six tracks of GS 1 playing different rhythms. I wrote the song on CS-80, so that plays the main part of the entire tune.[6]

So when we were doing "Africa" I set up a bass drum, snare drum and a hi-hat, and Lenny Castro set up right in front of me with a conga. We looked at each other and just started playing the basic groove. ... The backbeat is on 3, so it's a half-time feel, and it's 16th notes on the hi-hat. Lenny started playing a conga pattern. We played for five minutes on tape, no click, no nothing. We just played. And I was singing the bass line for 'Africa' in my mind, so we had a relative tempo. Lenny and I went into the booth and listened back to the five minutes of that same boring pattern. We picked out the best two bars that we thought were grooving, and we marked those two bars on tape...Maybe it would have taken two minutes to program that in the Linn, and it took about half an hour to do this. But a Linn machine doesn't feel like that!

Porcaro also acknowledged that he was influenced by the sounds created by fellow Los Angeles session musicians Milt Holland and Emil Richards in addition to New York World's Fair and a National Geographic Special.[7]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Steve Barron.[8] In the video, a researcher in a library (portrayed by band member David Paich) tries to match a scrap of a picture of a shield to the book from which it was torn out. As he continues his search, a librarian (Jenny Douglas-McRae) working at a desk takes occasional notice of him, while natives in the surrounding jungle begin to close in on the library. When the researcher finds a book entitled Africa, the native throws a spear (the shield the native carries is the same as the one in the picture), toppling stacks of books. Africa falls open to the page from which the scrap was torn, but a lantern lands on it and sets it on fire, after which the librarian's eyeglasses are shown falling to the floor. The scenes are intercut with shots of a spinning globe and the band performing atop a stack of giant hardcover books, in which Africa is the topmost.

This video also features Mike Porcaro on bass, replacing David Hungate, who had already left the band before the video was made.


In 2012, "Africa" was listed by music magazine NME in 32nd place on its list of "50 Most Explosive Choruses".[9]


Guest musicians[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

In addition to the above, the song also reached number 1 on the New Zealand iTunes chart on 15 May 2013.[21]



In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Toto - Africa at Discogs. [ONLINE]". Retrieved 1 May 2016. 
  2. ^ "Explore: Soft Rock | Top Songs". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Official TOTO Website - Encyclopedia". 2007-04-18. Archived from the original on July 14, 2012. Retrieved 2015-12-02. 
  4. ^ "Official TOTO Website - Releases". Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  5. ^ Melissa Locker (May 5, 2015). "Q&'80s: Toto's Dave Paich on Writing and Recording 'Africa'". (end paragraph 2 and 8). Retrieved 2016-06-04. 
  6. ^ Keyboard, 09/1995
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Toto - "Africa"". Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  9. ^ "50 Most Explosive Choruses - #32 Toto - Africa - NME.COM". NME. 
  10. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  11. ^ a b c d Steffen Hung. "Toto - Africa". Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  12. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 1982-11-14. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  13. ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". 2000-03-16. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  14. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  15. ^ "Talent Almanac 1984" (PDF). Billboard. 95 (52). Billboard Publications, Inc. December 24, 1983. p. TA-18. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved February 25, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Toto – Africa". Music Canada. 
  17. ^ "Italian single certifications – Toto – Africa" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana.  Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter Toto in the field Filtra. Select 1983 in the field Anno. The certification will load automatically
  18. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recorded Music NZ. 
  19. ^ "British single certifications – Toto – Africa". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Africa in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  20. ^ "American single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  21. ^ "Toto thanks NZ for No. 1 single - 30 years later - Entertainment - NZ Herald News". 2013-05-16. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  22. ^ "Andy McKee - Africa". YouTube. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2017-03-12. 
  23. ^ "Perpetuum Jazzile - Africa". YouTube. 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  24. ^ "Africa (acoustic Toto cover) - Mike Masse and Jeff Hall". Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  25. ^ "Spotify". 
  26. ^ . YouTube. 2011-10-02 Retrieved 2017-04-06.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ . YouTube. 2012-07-16 Retrieved 2017-04-06.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ "Song Premiere: Affiance Cover Toto's "Africa"". 2016-08-19. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  29. ^ "Instagram". Instagram. 2016-07-10. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  30. ^ "Top Ten South African adverts from our younger days". The South African. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  31. ^ "The 25 Best Songs From The Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Soundtrack". Complex. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  32. ^ "Foster Farms' Harmonic Choir of 'Amazing Chickens'". Little Black Book. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  33. ^ "Young Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake Sing At Summer Camp (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)". YouTube. 2013-03-14. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  34. ^ Caffrey, Dan. "In the dawn of the Trump era, the satire on South Park writes itself". A.V. Club. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  35. ^ Savorelli, Antonio. Beyond Sitcom: New Directions in American Television Comedy. McFarland. p. 39. ISBN 9780786458431. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  36. ^ "Stranger Things - S1E1 "The Vanishing Will Byers" List of Songs". What-song. Retrieved 2017-02-25. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]