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 November, 1982 (US)
Format 7", CD
Recorded October 25, 1981
Genre Soft rock[1]
Length 4:55 (album)
4:21 (edited)
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

"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]

"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!"

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, in which Africa is the topmost.

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 appears on the 2003 computer game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City playing on the radio channel Emotion.

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).

"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 at the end of halftime and sung by the supporters. The song is also popular with supporters of Columbus Crew SC. Since early 2007, a group of supporters would play the song after every club win at their home bar until 2014, when the club began playing it after every home win inside the stadium.

In late summer of 2014 Foster Farms debuted a commercial featuring a choir of chickens clucking the music of Toto's "Africa".[7]

"Africa" is the unofficial anthem of Lawrence University's annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest.[8]

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" is 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 magazine NME in 32nd place on its list of "50 Most Explosive Choruses".[9]

Since 2013, Africa has become a cult classic at UK-based global club night, Propaganda (indie club night), gaining plays across the country and weekly plays at their Lincoln venue.[10][11]


Guest musicians[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

It also reached number 1 on the New Zealand iTunes chart 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. ^ "Foster Farms TV Commercial, 'Africa'". Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Armstrong, Hillary (1 January 2014). "Extreme Trivia and Tradition: Lawrence University’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest". Scene Newspaper. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "50 Most Explosive Choruses - #32 Toto - Africa - NME.COM". NME. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  13. ^ a b c d Steffen Hung. "Toto - Africa". Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". 2000-03-16. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  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. The certification will load automatically
  18. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. 
  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 Silver 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. ^ Glasba za dobro jutro: Perpetuum Jazzile, Africa. Delo, 7 August 2013, Accessed on 17 September 2013.
  22. ^ "WIUO - The Orchestra". 
  23. ^ "Africa (acoustic Toto cover) - Mike Masse and Jeff Hall". 
  24. ^ "Karl Wolf". 
  25. ^ "Top Ten South African adverts from our younger days". The South African. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]