Toto – Africa (Lyrics Review and Song Meaning)

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One of the most famous musical rhythms in history is the intro to this timeless classic known as “Africa” ​​by the group Toto. Originally released on April 8, 1982, this song has survived almost four decades and continues to gain serious momentum today in 2019. There are many stories that make this song unique and have helped it is longevity. We will explore them in detail below.

Toto’s “Africa” ​​appeared on their fourth studio album “Toto IV” released in September 1982. The song was written by band members David Paich and Jeff Porcaro, and composed by Toto. The song was an instant hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1983. It was also honored by NME magazine by listing it at No. 32 in the “50 Most Explosive Backing Choirs.” The song has also appeared in numerous movie and TV soundtracks, making it a pop culture icon. Therefore, “Africa” ​​is undeniably Toto’s most famous and best-selling song to date.

What is “Africa” ​​from Toto About?

Many arguments have been made over the years about what “Africa” really sings about! Most predicted that the song was a love story between a man and a woman. Words like “She’s coming, 12:30 flight,” “As they grow up craving lonely company” and “Hurry boy, she’s waiting for you there” supported this argument. However, it should also be noted that in art, “she” is used as a pronoun for things that we love, adore, and respect. In an interview with David Paich by Grantland, the lyricist affectionately remarked that “It was about a guy’s love for a continent.”

In the same interview, Paich explains the POV of the song; “I have always been fascinated by Africa. I kind of romanticized this story of a social worker who was out there, who falls in love and can’t – has kind of a paradox, trying to tear himself away from Africa to have a life.

What inspired Toto’s song “Africa”?

As a child, David Paich attended Catholic school. There he saw many brothers, who were teachers, go to Africa and come back. “All of these thoughts on the priests and the young social workers who have gone out there dedicating their lives to helping people, and having to choose what kind of life they are going to have – whether to keep doing that, which I do here, where can I have a life, get married, have kids, and do that sort of thing. “

The song is not without flaws. David Paich makes three compelling comparisons in the second verse that turn out to be factually incorrect. To this, Jeff Porcaro explains; “A white boy tries to write a song about Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only say what he saw on TV or what he remembers in the past.

Watch Toto’s “Africa” ​​music video

Download the single “Africa” ​​on iTunes and Amazon
Buy the greatest hits album “Essential Toto” on iTunes and Amazon

The clip features a researcher, played by David Paich, in a library looking for a book with a paper torn off. We also see a lady librarian in the background. As he continues his research, we also see several African tribal groups approaching the library. A spear pulled by one of these tribesmen hits a lantern and sets a stack of books on fire. In this pile is a book titled “Africa” ​​and the page of the torn piece of paper. We also see the band members playing on top of a stack of books, the first book of which is titled “Africa”.

The song was featured in the popular adult cartoon series Family Guy from Season 10, Episode 23.

Critique of the lyrics and meaning of the song “Africa”

Verse 1

In the first verse of “Africa”, the singer arrives on the African continent by plane. The first thing he notices are the echoes of the drums, a classic imagery of African culture. The inexperience of the lyricist Africa’s finer details are portrayed in such larger assumptions of the continent.

The lyrics “She’s coming in, 12:30 flight” make us wonder if the singer is also talking about his girlfriend’s arrival in the country. Paich mentioned that he wondered about the difficulties of managing a life as a social worker and that a family life crossed his mind when composing these lyrics.

“Moonlight Wings” are the wings of the plane that carries him to what he calls his “salvation”.

On his way to the mainland, the singer stops an old man in the hope of recovering some ancient and lost wisdom (another larger imagery of African tribes). But the old man has no answers for him, but signals that he must discover wisdom himself.


These infamous words are shrouded in mystery much like the African continent was at the time.

The singer speaks of a strong devotion to someone / something. He sings that it will take a lot to get him away from a certain “you”. This “you” could be the mainland or his girlfriend arriving at 12:30 flight. However, since Paich explained that the song is about his love for the continent, we’ll assume he is singing about his affection for Africa.

“I bless the rains in Africa” is perhaps one of the song’s most passionate and endearing lines. African countries relied heavily on agriculture as an economy. Although the second largest continent in the world, Africa today is 60% desert. It is one of the hottest and driest regions in the world. Therefore, rain was a crucial part of Africans’ livelihoods.

David Paich told The Guardian magazine in 2018 the underlying story of this famous hook; “They (the social workers at the Catholic school in Paich) told me how they would bless the villagers, their Bibles, their books, their crops and when it rained they would bless the rain. This is where the catch line – “I bless the rains in Africa” – came from. “

The last line of the chorus is also shrouded in mystery. It’s forever ambiguous, as he sings things he’s never done. It could be a reference to all the social work he would engage in or his sexual passions for the girl joining him in Africa.

Acoustic cover of “Africa” ​​by Toto

Verse 2

In the second verse, the singer sets the soundtrack to Africa with the cry of wild dogs at night. Wild dogs are native to the sub-Saharan region and are seen in large groups. It’s no wonder then that they become restless for a lonely company, perhaps like the singer in Africa without his lover.

In the following lines, the singer draws a comparison between Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa with Mount Olympus and the Serengeti. The mountain of Kilimanjaro rises more than 2,900 meters higher than Mount Olympus. However, Kilimanjaro does not rise above the Serengeti, they are about 100 miles apart. Therefore, this is factually incorrect, but it’s interesting to see if the songwriter was looking for facts here. Or, says the singer “I know I must do the right thing / As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti” so in fact we see that his certainty is incorrect. May be what he thinks is right is in fact not correct.

In the next two lines, the singer is again in moral conflict. Its mission is to “heal” the deeply rooted problems of Africa, including poverty and famine. But on the other hand, his girlfriend arrives and he wonders if he would ever have a “normal” family life. He is afraid of the person he has become, enamored of this strange and vast continent.


There is a line in Toto’s “Africa” ​​bridge and it’s still confusing. This single line is a scam of the words almost whispered by the wise old man the singer meets upon entering the mainland. However, there is one word that has changed this time around.

“Hurry up boy, it is I’m waiting for you there “ of the first verse is now changed to “Hurry up boy, She is waiting for you there.

First, “it” definitely meant the African continent. Towards the end of the song, does he still hate Africa? Her conscience says “she” is waiting for you. Again, it could be the girlfriend who got off a plane. Or, “she” could have been used as a term of affection towards the African continent. Many things with affectionate affection for someone could be referred to in a feminine form as “she” or “she”. Ex: ships, oceans, mother country, school, etc. The singer could have developed a deeper level of affection and love towards Africa so that he ultimately called her “her”.

In January 2019, a sound system was installed in an undisclosed location in the Namib Desert to play “Africa” ​​in a constant loop. The installation is powered by solar batteries, allowing the song to be played indefinitely. content%2Fuploads%2F2019%2F01%2FTOTO FOREVER1 - Toto – Africa (Lyrics Review and Song Meaning)
Toto’s ‘Africa’ looping through the Namib Desert (Image:

Let us know what you think of this iconic Toto track in the comments below. If you like this article, be sure to share it with your friends.

Toto’s “Africa” ​​lyrics

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