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 2012, "Africa" was listed by music magazine NME in 32nd place on its list of "50 Most Explosive Choruses".[6]


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]



  • American electronic artist Daniel Lopatin, under the alias of Chuck Person, sampled "Africa" in track A1 from album, "Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1".
  • Rapper Jay Adams Sampled "Africa" For His Song, "My First Luv" For His Second Album "Concrete Democracy 1986".
  • Italian-American trance DJ and producer Louie DeVito sampled "Africa" in his song "2 Take Me Away".
  • 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.
  • American pop/R&B singer Jason Derülo sampled "Africa" in his song "Fight for You" from his 2011 sophomore studio album, Future History.
  • American rapper Wiz Khalifa sampled "Africa" in his song "Huey Newton".
  • American rapper Ja Rule sampled "Africa" in his song "Reign".
  • American rapper Nas sampled "Africa" in his song "New World".
  • American rapper Xzibit sampled "Africa" in his song "Heart Of Man", which is featured on his 2002 album Man vs. Machine.
  • American a cappella group Straight No Chaser sampled "Africa" in their cover of "The Twelve Days of Christmas".
  • Australian progressive metal band Chaos Divine recorded a cover of "Africa" as a single in 2012.
  • 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. The Karl Wolf song also 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.[18]
  • The song was featured in the Chuck season 2 episode "Chuck Versus the Best Friend."
  • The song was featured in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City as part of the "Emotion 98.3" playlist.
  • The song was featured twice in the Family Guy episode "Internal Affairs".
  • The song was featured in the Cleveland Show episode "How Cleveland got his groove back".
  • Vektroid sampled "Africa" for the track "Dedication" from the album Initiation Tape: Isle of Avalon Edition released under the New Dreams Ltd. pseudonym.
  • American rapper Rich Homie Quan sampled "Africa" in his song "Reloaded".
  • The song was used in an advertisement for Castle Lager in South Africa in the late 1990s.[19]

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. ^ "50 Most Explosive Choruses - #32 Toto - Africa - NME.COM". NME. 
  7. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  8. ^ a b c d Steffen Hung. "Toto - Africa". Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". 2000-03-16. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  11. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Toto – Africa". Music Canada. 
  12. ^ "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
  13. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. 
  14. ^ "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
  15. ^ "American single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  16. ^ Glasba za dobro jutro: Perpetuum Jazzile, Africa. Delo, 7 August 2013, Accessed on 17 September 2013.
  17. ^ "Africa (acoustic Toto cover) - Mike Masse and Jeff Hall". 
  18. ^ "Karl Wolf". 
  19. ^ "Top Ten South African adverts from our younger days". The South African. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]