Africa (Toto song)

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Single by Toto
from the album Toto IV
B-side "Good for You" (US)
"We Made It" (international)
"Africa" (live) (1990 re-release)
Released October, 1982 (US) (Debuted on the Hot 100 the week ending October 30, 1982)
Format 7", CD
Recorded October 25, 1981
Genre Soft rock[1]
Length 4:55
Label Columbia
Writer(s) David Paich, Jeff Porcaro
Producer(s) Toto
Toto singles chronology
"Make Believe"
"I Won't Hold You Back"
Audio sample
file info · help

"Africa" is a hit single by rock band Toto, and is one of the band's most recognizable songs. It was included on their 1982 album Toto IV, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 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 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."[2]

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."[3]

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."[4]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Steve Barron.[5] In the video, a researcher in a library (portrayed by band member David Paich) tries to match a scrap of a picture to the book from which it was torn out. As he continues his search, a black female librarian (Jenny Douglas-McRae) working at a desk takes occasional notice of him, while a native in the surrounding jungle begins to close in on the library. When the researcher finds a book entitled Africa, the native throws a spear, 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 inter-cut with shots of a spinning globe and the band performing atop a stack of hardcover books. On the top of the stack of the books, in which the band performs on, is the book Africa.

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

In popular culture[edit]

The song was sung by Paich at the 2009 Millennium Development Goals Awards Ceremony.[6] The song was used in the Top Gear Africa Special (Series 19, Episode 6 and 7) [7]

"Africa" has also been adopted by the New England Revolution, an American professional association football club, as their anthem. It is played every match day and sung by the supporters. In late summer of 2014 Foster Farms debuted a commercial featuring a choir of chickens clucking the music of Toto's Africa.[8]

"Africa" is the unofficial anthem of Lawrence University's annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest.[9]

The song is featured in the opening sequence of the Scrubs episode "My Way Home" (Season 5, Episode 7). The band's name represents one of many allusions to The Wizard of Oz, which is one of the recurring themes of the episode.

In the TV show Community, Troy and Abed sing "Africa" with Professor Bauer in Anthropology 101's End Tag (Season 2, Episode 1).

Instrumentals of the song briefly play in the American Dad episode titled"Camp Refoogee"

"Africa" was featured in the Family Guy episode "Internal Affairs" (Season 10, Episode 23). It is the song that was playing when Joe and Bonnie first met, and becomes their song.

In 2012 "Africa" was listed by music magazin NME 32nd place on its list of "50 Most Explosive Choruses". [10]


Guest musicians[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

It also reached number 1 on the New Zealand iTunes Charts on 15 May 2013.[citation needed]

Versions and Samples[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Explore: Soft Rock | Top Songs". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Official TOTO Website - Encyclopedia". 2007-04-18. Retrieved 2011-11-03. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Official TOTO Website - Releases". Retrieved 2011-11-03. [dead link]
  4. ^ Keyboard, 09/1995
  5. ^ "Toto - "Africa"". Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  6. ^ "David Paich to perform at United Nations M.D.G. Awards". Retrieved 2012-06-27. [dead link]
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Foster Farms TV Commercial, 'Africa'". Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  9. ^ Armstrong, Hillary (1 January 2014). "Extreme Trivia and Tradition: Lawrence University’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest". Scene Magazine. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Steffen Hung. "Toto - Africa". Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  13. ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". 2000-03-16. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  14. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Toto – Africa". Music Canada. 
  15. ^ "Italian single certifications – Toto – Africa" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry.  Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter Toto in the field Filtra. The certification will load automatically
  16. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. 
  17. ^ "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 Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  18. ^ "American single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  19. ^ Glasba za dobro jutro: Perpetuum Jazzile, Africa. Delo, 7 August 2013, Accessed on 17 September 2013.
  20. ^ Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra - Recordings
  21. ^ Canadian Hot 100 - Karl Wolf artist page
  22. ^ Retrieved 19 May 2014

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]