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 Soft rock[2][3]
Length 4:55 (album version)
4:21 (radio edit)
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) David Paich, Jeff Porcaro
Producer(s) Toto
Toto singles chronology
"Make Believe"
"I Won't Hold You Back"
"Make Believe"
"I Won't Hold You Back"
Music video

Toto - Africa on YouTube

Audio sample

"Africa" is a 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 (the band's only number one there), 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."[4]

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.[5]

In 2015 Paich explained the song is about a man's love of a continent: Africa, rather than just a personal romance.[6]

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.[7]

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 the New York World's Fair and a National Geographic Special.[8]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Steve Barron.[9] 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".[10]


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 May 15, 2013.[23]


  • 2002: Ja Rule sampled the song on his song "Murder Reigns" taken from his fourth studio album The Last Temptation[citation needed]
  • 2006: American pop singer JoJo sampled "Africa" in her song "Anything", which served as the third single from her 2006 sophomore studio album, The High Road.[citation needed]
  • 2007: Lebanese-Canadian pop/R&B singer Karl Wolf sampled "Africa" in his own remake, also called "Africa", with added lyrics and musical composition and arrangement.[citation needed] The Karl Wolf song featured a rap section by the Canadian-Bahamian rapper Culture. The track served as the first single from his 2007 sophomore studio album, Bite the Bullet, and reached number 2 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.[24]
  • 2010: American experimental artist Daniel Lopatin heavily sampled "Africa" in the song "A1", a song featured in Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1.[25]
  • 2011: American pop/R&B singer Jason Derulo sampled "Africa" in his song "Fight for You" from his 2011 sophomore studio album, Future History. Stevie Hoang had originally recorded "Fight for You" in 2011 for his third independent album, Unsigned with his original track featuring vocals from Iyaz.[citation needed]
  • 2016: Swedish production duo Bacall & Malo sampled "Africa" in their remake, also called "Africa", with added lyrics and musical composition and arrangement.[citation needed] The Bacall & Malo music video also featured vocals by UK-based Nigerian singer Prince Osito. The track was the debut charting single of the Swedish duo peaking at number 18 on Sverigetopplistan, the official Swedish Singles Chart.[26]


Notable uses in popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Toto - Africa at Discogs. [ONLINE]". Archived from the original on October 27, 2016. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  2. ^ Deggans, Eric (August 20, 2014). "Review: Toto, Michael McDonald showcase stellar '70s chops at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved September 15, 2017. 
  3. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "Toto – Hold the Line: The Best of Toto". AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Official TOTO Website - Encyclopedia". April 18, 2007. Archived from the original on July 14, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Official TOTO Website - Releases". Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  6. ^ Melissa Locker (May 5, 2015). "Q&'80s: Toto's Dave Paich on Writing and Recording 'Africa'". (end paragraph 2 and 8). Archived from the original on June 25, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2016. 
  7. ^ Keyboard, 09/1995
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 1, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Toto - "Africa"". Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  10. ^ "50 Most Explosive Choruses - #32 Toto - Africa - NME.COM". NME. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. 
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  12. ^ a b c d Steffen Hung. "Toto - Africa". Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  13. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". November 14, 1982. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  14. ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". March 16, 2000. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  15. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". May 20, 2013. Archived from the original on May 7, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  17. ^ "Talent Almanac 1984" (PDF). Billboard. 95 (52). Billboard Publications, Inc. December 24, 1983. p. TA-18. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved February 25, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Toto – Africa". Music Canada. 
  19. ^ "Italian single certifications – Toto – Africa" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. 
  20. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recorded Music NZ. 
  21. ^ "British single certifications – Toto – Africa". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Africa in the search field and then press Enter.
  22. ^ "American single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  23. ^ "Toto thanks NZ for No. 1 single - 30 years later - Entertainment - NZ Herald News". May 16, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Karl Wolf". Archived from the original on August 15, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Chuck Person: Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1". Spectrum Culture. December 4, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Bacall & Malo - Africa". 
  27. ^ "Spotify". 
  28. ^ "Spotify". 
  29. ^ "Metal Music Archives". 
  30. ^ "Song Premiere: Affiance Cover Toto's "Africa"". August 19, 2016. Archived from the original on October 23, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Youtube". 
  32. ^ "Under the Covers, Vol. II by Ninja Sex Party on Apple Music". Retrieved 2017-11-05. 
  33. ^ "Top Ten South African adverts from our younger days". The South African. Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2014. 
  34. ^ "The 25 Best Songs From The Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Soundtrack". Complex. Archived from the original on February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  35. ^ "Foster Farms' Harmonic Choir of 'Amazing Chickens'". Little Black Book. Archived from the original on January 28, 2016. Retrieved January 19, 2016. 
  36. ^ "The Eight Best Musical Moments on Community". Retrieved 2017-11-27. 
  37. ^ Savorelli, Antonio (April 13, 2010). Beyond Sitcom: New Directions in American Television Comedy. McFarland. p. 39. ISBN 9780786458431. Retrieved February 17, 2017. 
  38. ^ Caffrey, Dan. "In the dawn of the Trump era, the satire on South Park writes itself". A.V. Club. Archived from the original on November 18, 2016. Retrieved November 19, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Stranger Things - S1E1 "The Vanishing Will Byers" List of Songs". What-song. Archived from the original on February 25, 2017. Retrieved February 25, 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]