Africa (Toto song)


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) (UK and 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]
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

"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 in 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, lyricist Dave 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!

Music video

The music video was directed by Steve Barron.[7] 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".[8]


Guest musicians

Charts and certifications

Weekly charts

Chart (1982–83) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[9] 5
Austrian Top 40[10] 7
Belgian Singles Chart 8
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 8
Canadian RPM Top Singles 1
Dutch Singles Chart[10] 2
Europarade 17
Finnish Singles Chart 18
French Singles Chart 27
German Singles Chart[10] 14
Irish Singles Chart 2
Italian Singles Chart 22
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart[11] 8
Polish Singles Chart 19
South African Singles Chart 18
Spanish Radio Chart 18
Swiss Singles Chart[10] 6
UK Singles Chart[12] 3
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 3
Chart (2013) Peak
New Zealand RMNZ Singles Chart[13] 5

Year-end charts

Chart (1982) Peak
Belgian VRT Top 30 85
Dutch Top 40 18
German Media Control Chart 88
Chart (1983) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report 25
Canadian RPM Top Singles 16
Italian Singles Chart 75
UK Singles Chart 38
US Billboard Hot 100 24

Sales and certifications

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[14] Gold 50,000^
Italy (FIMI)[15] Gold 15,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[16] Gold 5,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[17] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[18] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

It also reached number 1 on the New Zealand iTunes chart on 15 May 2013.[19]



In popular culture

See also


  1. 1 2 "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. "Toto - "Africa"". Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  8. "50 Most Explosive Choruses - #32 Toto - Africa - NME.COM". NME.
  9. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Steffen Hung. "Toto - Africa". Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  11. "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 1982-11-14. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  12. "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". 2000-03-16. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  13. "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  14. "Canadian single certifications – Toto – Africa". Music Canada.
  15. "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
  16. "New Zealand single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recorded Music NZ.
  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 Gold 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. "Toto thanks NZ for No. 1 single - 30 years later - Entertainment - NZ Herald News". 2013-05-16. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  20. "Perpetuum Jazzile - Africa". YouTube. 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  21. "Africa (acoustic Toto cover) - Mike Masse and Jeff Hall". Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  22. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. "Song Premiere: Affiance Cover Toto's "Africa"". 2016-08-19. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  24. "Instagram". Instagram. 2016-07-10. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  25. "Karl Wolf".
  26. "Straight No Chaser - The 12 Days of Christmas (original from 1998)". YouTube. 2006-04-25. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  27. "Bacall & Malo - Africa".
  28. Caffrey, Dan. "In the dawn of the Trump era, the satire on South Park writes itself". A.V. Club. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  29. "Top Ten South African adverts from our younger days". The South African. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  30. "Foster Farms' Harmonic Choir of 'Amazing Chickens'". Little Black Book. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  31. "Young Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake Sing At Summer Camp (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)". YouTube. 2013-03-14. Retrieved 2016-10-25.

Further reading

External links

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