by Toto

Album: Toto IV (1982)
Charted: 3 1
Play Video


  • This song tells the story of a man who comes to Africa and must make a decision about the girl who comes to see him. He is enamored with the continent, but must leave if he is going to be with her.

    Toto keyboard player David Paich wrote the song and explained in the liner notes of Toto's Best Ballads compilation: "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."

    Paich had never been to Africa when he wrote it.
  • With introspective lyrics like, "I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become," we wondered if this song involved a bit of personal reflection. Turns out, it did. In a Songfacts interview with David Paich, he explained: "There's a little metaphor involved here, because I was at the age where I was so immersed in my work, 24/7, that at times I felt like I was becoming just a victim of my work. There was a little bit of autobiographical information in there: being consumed by my work, not having time to go out and pursue getting married and raising a family and doing all the things that other people do that were my age at the time."
  • In an article in Time magazine, an unidentified group member said they were looking for a song just to close off the album and did not think "Africa" would do as well as it did. They also mentioned that if you listen closely during the lyrics "catch some waves," you can hear some of them singing "catch some rays."
  • Toto IV won a Grammy for Album of the Year, but voters didn't nominate "Africa" for either Record of the Year or Song of the Year; they preferred "Rosanna," which was nominated in both categories and won for Record of the Year.
  • This is probably Toto's most famous song, but their guitarist Steve Lukather would like you to know there is much more to the band: Toto were top studio musicians before forming the group, and known as some of the best in the business. Lukather told Rock's Backpages: "A lot of people categorize us as 'that 'Africa' or 'Rosanna' band,' and I hate that s--t. We have a lot more substance than that. Don't get me wrong - those songs have been great to us, but you really don't understand the depth of the band if that's all you know.

    We could be the most misunderstood band in rock history. We consist of some of the most recorded musicians in the business. And yet we take hits for that. [laughs] Ashlee Simpson and all these phony-baloney singers sell millions of records, but everybody knows that's bogus. Some folks go on the road, and they might as well be miming. My son toured with Lindsay Lohan four years ago. The whole band was playing live, she was lipsynching. She couldn't sing a lick. Some poor guy had to Pro Tools that every night."
  • The video was directed by Steve Barron, who also did "Rosanna" and many other early MTV favorites. Toto was one of the few American bands that was making videos even before MTV, and after the network launched in 1981, their Barron-directed clips earned them lots of exposure.

    "Africa" is a very stylized, conceptual video with memorable imagery and an abstract storyline. It finds David Paich in an African library trying to find the book that matches a torn clipping he carries. There is a cute librarian, taxidermy, a burning spear and a globe. What's going on is clearly open to interpretation.
  • In the UK, this was issued as a limited-edition picture disc shaped like the continent of Africa. The gimmick helped send the song to #3, making it their biggest hit in Britain.
  • Bobby Kimball handled most of the lead vocals for Toto, but the song's writer, David Paich, sang the verses for "Africa." This is because the verse lyrics are packed tight with lines like "as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti," which Kimball had a hard time wrangling. With Kimball on the chorus, the song has a lot of vocal dynamics.
  • Guitarist Steve Lukather and singer Bobby Kimball told Rock Eyez that this song nearly didn't make the album and it "was a guy named Al Keller, who was over at CBS" who convinced them to put it on the disc. Lukather added: "I thought it was the worst song on the album. It didn't fit, the lyrics made no sense and I swore that if it was a hit record, I'd run naked down Hollywood Boulevard! That's how good I am at picking singles! (Laughs) I mean I love the song now but, to be honest with you, at the time I thought it was really the odd ball song on the album. It almost didn't make the record and it was a #1 worldwide single and still gets played everywhere today. No matter where I go in the world, people know that song… it's bizarre! For a song that Dave (Hungate) and I wrote in his living room, people know it in Indonesia!"
  • This appeared in an episode of the TV show Scrubs in 2004. The episode was a tribute to the movie The Wizard Of Oz, so Toto fit the theme.
  • In the late '90s, the Indiana University a cappella group Straight No Chaser started performing "Africa," and it quickly became their signature song. Hoping to highlight other parts of their repertoire, they dropped it from their setlist during a 1998 Christmas concert on campus, but did incorporate it into their version of "Twelve Days of Christmas," using the melody to support various Christmas songs ("I decked the halls down in Africa..."). This was an in-joke to their fans, who cheered wildly when they heard it out of nowhere in the middle of a Christmas song.

    In 2006, one of the group members posted this performance on YouTube, which launched just a year earlier. It became one of the first viral videos and earned them a record deal with Atlantic, which convinced the group to re-form. This performance made its way to many perennial Christmas playlists, giving "Africa" a place in the holiday music canon.
  • This is used in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and also in commercials for the South African Castle Lager. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Hermes - Athens, Greece
  • In the HBO comedy film Tour de Pharmacy, Mike Tyson talks about this song. "You ever seen the dues in the band Toto?" he asks. "Those dudes shouldn't be singing about Africa."
  • In December 2017, a Twitter account launched dedicated to getting Weezer to cover this song. Using the hashtag #WeezerCoverAfrica, the account, run by a 14-year-old girl, posted a series of Tweets along the lines of, "May your day be as blessed as the rains down in Africa!" On May 29, 2018, the band complied, releasing their version of "Africa."

    Weezer's rendition of "Africa" gave the band their first Hot 100 entry since "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To," which reached #81 in November 2009.
  • The video for Weezer's version stars Weird Al Yankovic as the band's frontman Rivers Cuomo, plus a load of doppelgangers. It's a near-exact replica of the visual for Weezer's 1994 track "Undone - The Sweater Song."
  • After Weezer covered "Africa," Toto covered Weezer's "Hash Pipe" as a response.
  • This was used on the season 1 Stranger Things episode "The Vanishing Of Will Byers." It plays while Steve and Nancy make out in Nancy's bedroom.
  • This was memorably featured in the 2009 Chuck episode "Chuck Versus The Best Friend." Jeff and Lester stage an audition at the Buy More to convince Ellie and Devon to allow their band, Jeffster!, to play at their wedding. They perform this song and - not surprisingly - don't land the gig.
  • Olivia Lufkin and Howie Day have both recorded "Africa." The song has also been sampled by JoJo and Nas.

Comments: 97

  • AnonymousIt’s gonna take the lot to drag me away from you. Or: It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from yiu.
  • Patti from UsaI thought the lyrics were “I MISS the rains down in Africa! Thought it was a guy missing his home country, Africa. It was so poignant.
  • Dl from UsaThe words are 'bless the rains', not 'catch some waves/rays'!!!!
  • Harry Steels from Coventry, UkIan Bothwell from Uk
    Everyone please listen carefully to the lyrics, replace "Olympus" with "leopress", (a female leopard)

    What? Leopress is a female leopard? You'd better inform David Attenborough, Ian; you have found a new species...before that though, you'd be wise to remove the cotton wool from your ears as it is very clearly 'Olympus'
  • Pete Mcducklet from The MoonMavis from Upper Midwest
    It’s definitely leopress or lepress. But it should be leopardess.

    But it’s not Olympus.

    It clearly sounds like 'Olympus'...the official lyrics (wherever you look) say 'Olympus'...So it must be 'Olympus'. Rises like a leopress/Lepress/Leopardess makes sense, does it?
  • Makoti from South Lanarkshire United Kingdomalways makes me cry reminds me of 1995 when sa lifted rwc for the first time with Madiba wearing his springbok jersey south African breweries used it for an advert sho wing the plane flying over Ellis park with goodluck bokke on the under carriage viva south Africa stay safe stay strong
  • Melinda from AustraliaIt’s a pretty amazing song. I didn’t think so that much in 1982. Cause my friends and I were more focussed on ‘New Wave’ bands. And bands like Toto, to us, were old fashioned.
    They were, to our young minds, like typical late 70’s bands Emerson Lake And Palmer, Genesis, Foreigner.
    Excellent bands in themselves. But not part of our way of seeing the modern music direction at that moment.
    We were typical early 80’s kids. Loving synth pop bands with fast music. And cool angular haircuts.
    Interesting how, your musical tastes when young blind you to appreciating amazing music that just dosent fit with the times.
    If Africa hit top of the charts in 1982, it was cause generally the older generation bought the album.
    Not so much high school kids. We were far more interested in 1982 in Rock Lobster by The B52’s and The Psychedelic Furs song Love My Way. The Clash, A Flock Of Seagulls.
    Rosanna by Toto is equally as good as Africa. Always believed to have been written about actress Rosanna Arquette that Toto keyboardist was dating at the time.
    True but not true. David Paiche said he just used her name. But Rosanna is about a few different girls Paitche dated.
    Roseanne Arquette starred with Madonna in her 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan.
  • Agnello Noel from MumbaiWhatever the lyric "I bless the rains down in Africa" means, it definitely means one thing: the singer/songwriter has never been to Africa, or the word "down" would never be used. That sort of ruins the whole song, because it's meant to be about an American in Africa waiting for a woman arriving by plane.
  • Clemence from New YorkI don't get it. What do the rains have to do with anything? Why does he bless them? Does he own agricultural land in Africa?
  • Mavis from Upper MidwestIt’s definitely leopress or lepress. But it should be leopardess.

    But it’s not Olympus.
  • Dru from UsaI Think this song was a metaphor for drugs. Not that the band Toto are into that sort of thing but maybe. The lyrics say she’s coming in 1230 flight, the moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation. And also the part when is saying it’s going to take a lot to drag me away from you there’s nothing that 100 men or more could ever do. I don’t know, what do you think?
  • Ian Bothwell from UkEveryone please listen carefully to the lyrics, replace "Olympus" with "leopress", (a female leopard)
  • Hucklecat from New Jersey UsaHas been my single favourite song since 1982. Has never been displaced. The chorus and finale is possibly one of the best song endings I have ever heard. Toto was basically a group of first-call session cats that had chops aplenty. If they could only have gotten Donald Fagen to write their lyrics, it would have been musical Nirvana.
  • Rho from Ny StateMy daughter learned this song from Straight No Chaser in their 12 Days of Christmas. She was SO shocked as she sang along "I spent Christmas down in Africa..." and that was not the words, lol. She loves the song! This takes me back to my first semester of college, fall 1982. Musters up all the same emotions/feelings. Music is so cool! LOVED Toto!!!
  • Patti from MichiganI have always heard "I bless the rains down in Africa," and I took it to mean that he was thankful for the rain, because it is so hot there. I love the vibe of this song. There is a wonderful version of it performed by Ringo and his All-Starr band from 2012. Band members included Steve Lukather, Richard Page, Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie, Mark Rivera, and Gregg Bissonette playing drums alongside Ringo. They also did "Hold The Line" and "Rosanna."
  • Matt from South Africa / UkI moved from SA to UK almost 10 years ago. Its been a very emotional song for me as I intend to and dream of moving back home. My wife just pointed out to me today that the lyrics are I bless the rains not I MISS the rains! The latter being more pertinent to me. Listening to the song for the 5th time today it atill sounds like miss to me! Oh well ce la vie, awesome song!!!
  • Domands from PhilippinesTo thank them being one of my inspirations in music, I made an ukulele fingerstyle cover of Africa here:

    Enjoy! :)
  • John from North Carolina, UsaLove this song. For those of you searching for it's meaning, it was taken from a short story by Earnest Hemingway.
  • Phil from Neenah, WiThis song was used in the Africa Special for UK's Top Gear on the 19th season (Series).
  • Anne from Spokane, WaI think this is my favorite song by Toto. I used rock my sons to sleep every night to this song, so it has been a part of them their whole lives. My youngest son chose this song for our mother-son dance when he got married, I laughed & cried through the whole dance. It brings back so many good memories!
  • Kimberly from Landing, NjMemories are as we take them, rise above. As what we all believe in as what is centered in our deepest inspiration.
  • Jay from Centereach, Long Island, NyI always thought the lyric was "Sure as Kilimonjaro rises like an emporess above the Serengeti." While it is true that Mount Kilimonjaro isn't near the Serengeti, the song is not intended to be a geography lesson.
  • Glowski from Brandywine, MdToto is one of my favorite bands from the 70s, and Africa is my favorite song performed by the band. It has been great reading the many comments about this song, but I found none that reflect my first impression of it. I thought it was a song of a white man (maybe a missionary) and his deep love for an African woman and the continent she thrived from. If true, what a complete and free love it would have been. The video has a woman of color in it, and I took it as a confirmation of my thoughts. In addition, I want to say how much I admired and revered the contribution made to the band by the late drummer, Jeff Porcaro. My oldest son is also a professional drummer, so I may have some bias. However, I have been taught to listen to the individual dynamics of a song and the total performance of it. Jeff Porcaro had a gift that was incomparable. I didn't learn of his death until years later, and I still mourn the loss of enjoying more of his work and other artists as well. Thank goodness for today's technology that allows us to continue to enjoy the past geniuses of the wonderful anomaly of the musical art form.
  • Joseph from Los Angeles, CaBeautiful song, without a doubt Toto's best. Always makes me dream of visiting Africa.
  • Jeana from Sterling Heights, MiThis song was on Family Guy. It's Joe and Bonnie's love song.
  • Nicholas from Kingston, Jamaicahey...this song was one of the 1st songs I ever loved as a and Air Supply's "Out of nothing at all"
  • Dougee from San Bernardino, CaWow. All these years I thought the lyric about Kilimanjaro was "rises like a lepress above the Serengeti" (lepress being a female leopard I guess?). Googling it showed I'm not the only one that thought this! Incidentally, there is a Slovenian vocal group called "Perpetuum Jazzile" that does an amazing a-capella cover of this song. There's a nice video of it on Youtube. When the lead vocalist sings the Serengeti part it sounds like he's saying "lepress" also, with kind of a British long "e."
  • Chris from Tinley Park, IlKilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti?

    Kilimanjaro is almost 200 miles away from the Serengeti however I believe what they were referring to is :: Kilimanjaro {highest freestanding mountain} rises like Olympus {highest mountain in Greece}and believed to be the "home of the gods" rise like Olympus = rise with power and glory :: above the serengeti {12,000sq miles of grass,woods,swamps....}
  • Lara from Auckland, New ZealandMight have something extra for the discussion. I went to St Lawrence University in NY state and this song is always playing in their bookstore. Being African myself and a foreign student, I asked why. I was told that an alumnus from this university went on exchange to Kenya and wrote this song about a girl there that he fell in love with and couldn't wait to go back to. It really is a romantic song. :-)
  • Jeff from Kingston, TnTo think this song almost didn't make the album. If you ever go to "howl at the moon" they will always play it, and love to. Great choir version of it from Parpetuum Jazzile. check it out.
  • Al from Tamworth, AustraliaTo invoke thought, emmotion, passion etc is surely what an artist is all about. Judging by the posts I've read here, Lukather and the boys are true artists.
  • Markella from Brisbane, AustraliaSomething moving and unique about this song that seems to resonate with people everythere. Despite reading what the band themselves have said about it and going over the lyrics time and again have never really been able to decipher it. Just know that I love to hear it, and yes it moves me to tears too!!!
  • Jesse from Greenfield, MaAs I see it, this song is about a couple breaking up after an argument. After cooling his jets, the dude sees that he was in the wrong and crosses a great distance to catch the woman he loves and apologize before she leaves on her plane. In this case, the line "she's coming in, 12:30 flight" would be referring to the plane's arrival, not that of the woman. So, it's a tale of love, desperation, healing, and becoming a better person. Deep and spiritual. And the line "I bless the rains down in Africa," which never made much sense to me before, now seem quite clear to me. I wondered "Who the Hell is he to be blessing things?" He's thanking "the rains" and all of the natural, beautiful things in the world, which allowed him to find peace and truth, for showing him his wrong doings. Now, I could be wrong, but I like to have an opinion. ;)
  • Derrick from Baldwyn, MsThis song was also covered on an episode of Chuck being sung by Jeffster, a fictional 2 guy band who work at the Buy More with Chuck.
  • Rob from Fredericton, NbToto has to be one of the most eclectic bands out there. They've produced some good rock, then pop, then ballads and finally easy listening music available to their listeners. They also utilize their band members by sharing the mic. If you were singing background vocals on one song, you're next may be lead. I have always loved Toto as far as I can remember. Generally, I classify them alongside Journey, Foreigner and Heart to name a few. Truly a great band they produced some of the best music in the last century.
  • Charlie from Mclean, VaThis is a masterpiece.

    Although it's awesome that Toto was able to work in a great plug for Tanzania, Kilimanjaro isn't visible from the Serengeti, and thus not visible to be able to "rise like Olympus".

    Both are impressive world treasures though!
  • Fred from Laurel, MdBill, Billings -- Caught the Perpetuum Jazzile vid back in June (Kim Komando's vid of the day for 2009/06/18), and it's amazing what they do with it, a cappella, yet! Everybody who likes this song has got to see that! *** All I thought I knew of Toto was "99" until I found out this song was theirs, too.
  • Nicole from Plymouth, MaThis is one of my favorite songs of all time. Most def a classic if you ask me!

    I think its about a man's everlasting feelings for a women that he once lost. He knows that he must do whats right and fight for the love that they once had. " It's going to take alot to drag you away from me ".
  • Philip from Johannesburg, South AfricaSouth African Breweries when they used this song in their Castle Lager commercial understood what the song is all about. The commercial is called "New York" and features a group of young South African emigres on a roof in New York having a braaivleis (barbecue to you!). When the beers are brought up from the street by a guy in shorts and velskoens, they all turn to the south east, raise their beers and toast home. Nobody here can watch it without that sting behind the eyes! (PS we might be a bit short on the rains this year - El Nino threatens!).
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnAfrica is one of my all-time favorite songs of the 80s. I really enjoy the lyrics as well as the instrumental track. It's the best song Toto has done.
  • Carole from Paterson, NjI just posted & said that I'd sent the Slovenian thread to our program director at our Jazz Lovers Club. As soon as I "sent", I received a message from him that Africa will be shown at our next Jazz Lovers Club meeting.
  • Carole from Paterson, NjI didn't realize how much I loved appreciated Toto & loved this song until it was played at a warm-up at an aerobics class in the early 80s. I almost fell through the floor. I have loved & gotten emotional over it since. One thing it does is "mellow me out" instantly. Beautiful work. We just heard the Slovenian chorus today for the first time & I unashamedly cried - my husband was close to it, as well. I sent the thread to a friend who performs in the Sweet Adelines & to our program director at our Jazz Lovers Club. Perhaps they'll feature the video at a meeting! I'll bring the Kleenex. Thanks, Steve & Toto. You'll never know how much your music carries us through the difficult times.
  • Daniel from Mexico City, MexicoFor me the story is quite clear: it's about a man living IN Africa who is waiting for the arrival of the woman he loves, who is coming TO him, on a plane, naturally (and that's why "she hears only whispers of a quiet conversation", as you usually do on board a commercial flight).
  • Bill from Billings, MtHello Kari,

    I am pleased you enjoyed Perpetuum Jazzile's rendition of one of my personal anthems.

    It brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes a tune reaches into the primordial beat upon which our psyches are born. Consider Toto guitarist Steve Lukather's comments regarding Africa:

    "I mean I love the song now but, to be honest with you, at the time I thought it was really the odd ball song on the album. It almost didn't make the record and it was a #1 worldwide single and still gets played everywhere today. No matter where I go in the world, people know that song... it's bizarre! For a song that Dave (Hungate) and I wrote in his living room, people know it in Indonesia!"

    That observation reminds me of Close Encounters of the Third Kind in which a series of 5 notes resonates with collective conscience worldwide. There's a much deeper place for music than entertainment which connects with the soul. One of those life mysteries reserved, perhaps, for the hereafter to learn.
  • Wes from Pietermaritzburg, South AfricaHard to believe some people haven't figured out that Africa's a continent. Everyone knows we do of course ride elephants to school and play fetch with our pet lions and have never seen cutlery, but come on... But back on topic, GREAT song! Even though it's not truly "African," sure is fun belting out that chorus in the norriebongs of South Korea with a few fellow South Africans backing you up! Good times.
  • Melissa from Loxahatchee, Flthis is one of my favorite songs of all time! it is so peacefull and serene. i found a video with the words and clips from the lion king
  • Cynthia from Scranton, Pathis is my favorite song! i am absolutely enamored with africa, sub equitorial africa in particular, and my dream is to go on a safari in the serengeti and see kilimanjaro. i am greek but i admire everything about the world's most beautiful continent and its lovely people and amazing animals! but still africa is ravaged by disease, poverty, violence, famine, and drought... i urge all of you on here to donate any amount to a charity that helps africa! please we must act now before it is too late! God bless!
  • Al from Baltimore, MdSeveral guesses on the lyrics, which may not be accurate as presented here. I always heard "the cheers only whispers from some quiet conversation" (as if the drums and shouting are quite distant)..."it's going to take a lion to drag me away from you"(a much more African phrase)...and I'm quite sure he's saying "I stopped an old man on the way"(although nomad is quite evocative). Still, all in all, a pleasantly ambiguous song that effortlessly suggests atmosphere, passion, and internal conflict.
  • Katie from Halifax, NsThis song makes me miss Africa more and more each time I hear it. I don't think there is a girl at all, but rather an internal decision of whether to stay on this beautiful continent or leave.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhThis song seems to be about getting a second chance...realizing you had everything in the palm of your hand but didn't know it. You left it for what you thought was more important only to learn what you left was the real deal; true love. When he sings "Gonna take some time to do the things we never had" he is saying he's learned to take time to savor the moments with the love of his life. This song is about getting a second chance and being THRILLED about it, to the point of being frightened. Yes, the background music IS amazing & the passionate vocals, that wailing at the end, well, it makes the song.
  • Ivny from Pusan, KoreaReally amazing song, I love Toto.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhAs a woman, if a man I deeply loved said passionately to me, "It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you, There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do." Well, wow! That's how much a woman wants the man of her dreams to love her. The song is so visual, can't you just see the nomad's knowingly sparkling eyes convey to a man wildly in love the unspoken words "Hurry! Love & all it involves waits for you!" You chase after something and you're finally finding it, and it's exciting, passionate. A beautiful beat, no rythm, the rythm of life, a cadence, to the song. "Frightened of this thing that I've become"---if during your life where no one's affected your emotions this way until now, feeling such fabulous passion for a woman that you've never felt before is scary, but in a most positive way,all the while hoping that the same feelings are felt back towards you. Oh, it's a great song.
  • Sibella from Pretoria, South AfricaThis song almost makes me cry, because I might wanna emmigrate someday, but I'm gonna miss my home SO much if I do! It also reminds me of this absolute paradise of a wild reserve kind of place (very UNcomercial one) that's been sold because they went bankrupt. It was my sanctuary and now it's gone!
  • Jennie from Bloomington, Insad one for me. i had just become engaged in Sep82. In Dec82, my fiancé had to go home for C-mas vacation (we were in college) and i was not invited. "it's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you" always makes me cry. while he was away, i discovered i was expecting. around the time the song was on the radio every 15 minutes, our baby was stillborn. so as much as i love Jeff Porcaro and most of Toto, "Africa" is a song i avoid due to its incredibly sad associations.
  • Sibella from Pretoria, --It's interisting that it's in GTA Vice City; Hold The Line is in San Andreas on KDST.
  • Stephanie from Dallas, TxThe song is not about a woman at all. It is about a man going on a plane back to his beloved Africa. It talks about "she" coming in 12:30 flight. He is refering to the time the plane is coming in to take him away because he goes on in the same verse about the moonlight relecting the stars that guide him towards salvation, being Africa. He goes on to talk about an old man he meets. He wants to ask him about some ancient stories or songs and the man turns to him and gives him a look that says, hurry Africa is waiting. The chourus is about how, since he is going back to Africa, it would be almost impossible to drag him away again. Then he goes on to talk about the things he wants to do that he never took the time to do before when he was in Africa.
  • Monai from Ny, Ny"...solitary company..."Wow.I'm overwhelmed by the meaning of it all.
  • Jennifer from Portland, OrI love this song. I love to sing along to it in the car when I'm alone. I always thought it was about a man who met a woman in Africa, then returned to his homeland. She had to leave her part of Africa due to flooding, and went to be with him.
  • John from Manchester, EnglandOh what an absolute classic! One of my all time favourites. I could go on about the lyrics for hours and what they mean or might mean. Im sure most people have already summed the song up. This is the sort of tune that immerses you into it. I can almost see the moonlit wings reflecting the stars right now. Absolute classic!
  • Denver from Colunbia City, InShoshannah i agree so much. This song just takes you away for 4 minutes to a wonderful place of comfort and relaxation. The lyrics are wonderful but the tone of the song makes it. Top 5 for 1 of my favorite all timne songs. And to think when i was young when it came out i hated it. Next to bakerstreet this song is the 2nd best in my opinion.
  • Kelley from Hickory, Kyya just gotta love a song that manages to get this lyric into it:

    "I know that I must do what's right sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serangeti"

    What a mouthful!
  • James from Chesterfield, DerbyshireA truly moving song, It is quite clear what the song means from the point of view from the person who wrote it but me can all take the lyrics and make up our own mind and all find different meaning from it based on our lives.
  • Alease from T-town, OhWe're playing it for marching band and have to do some 80's dance moves with it lol! AWESOME SONG! I LOVE IT!
  • Shoshannah from Seattle, WaThis is one of those songs I get totally absorbed in. I just close my eyes and get lost in it when I play it. It's not so much the lyrics--although, I do like them a lot--that sucks me in but the feel of the song; very impassioned and cerebral. I know Rosanna got more attention--at least where I lived at the time--but THIS was, by far, their greatest hit ever, imo. It will always be one of my all-time favorite songs.
  • Frances from Los Angees, CaI ignore all songs until and unless something like the stunning vocal harmony in Africa makes me notice. As the years pass and this song occurs to me in different situations, I attach to lines like "Frightened of this thing that I've become" - at once magical, elemental, cerebral and forthright. "I know that I must do what's right". Don't we all? Maybe not . . .
  • Pytlak from Bakersfield, CaJesse, Africa is a continent, not a country.
  • Tyrone Collins from Chicago, IlThe best song Toto ever did hands down I really love the live version
  • James from Chesterfield, DerbyshireI don't think I can explain the meaning of the song any better than Paula does above but just to say this is one of my fave songs and brings a tear to my eye whenever i hear it. Such meaning and emotion, it's wonderful.
  • Paula from Antioch, TnI am so old school. I remember when this song first came out. I was a fresh 30 years of age. I was deep into my singing and acting career and had begun a whole new view of music appreciation with the releases of artists such as Toto, Journey, The Police/Sting, Steely Dan, and a plethora of artists from the 70's and 80's. Chicago and Earth, Wind and Fire and all these groups had so much fire and flame and messages to tell us. And we were hungry to receive all of it. Toto was a group that I had never noticed until "Africa". As an English teacher, I used this song many times for my students to analyze. It is ambiguious and only the members of Toto (writers) would be able to tell us exactly what the words mean - but that is the beauty of music - we can all have our own interpretations and be happy with our results because the music and lyrics are what make us happy. I loved this song for one line (at first) "It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you". Then I began to notice plenty of metaphors in the song. It may or may not be about Africa - there are enough references to make you think they had been there or at least knew something about Africa - the drums echoing, ancient melodies, wild dogs, the mention of mountains, the numerous rains during the rain season. But the reference made to "Hurry boy "it's waiting" - that would not be the woman - but I would think - love. His heart is beating hard in anticipation (drums echoing), she is coming in and he is looking for the right words to say - (asking the old man) - the change and strange - is that he is unsure - he's frightened and does not know what to say - this 'thing' he has become - overwhelmed with the love he feels for her and how strong it is - how controlling it has been in his life - blessing the rains - in my opinion is his reason to cry - to feel - to allow the rains to drown him along with his own tears for the powerful love he has in his heart for her. Passing the rains - means to me that he is leaving - It will take some time because of the long separation to do the things they never had a chance to do. OR this reference could be that she has been gone for so long, he has forgotton how to love and has become hard - but she is still in his heart and it will take time for that love to resurface to be what they never had - lots of ways to look at it - but perfect in every way to me. I love this song!
  • T. Michels from Venlo, NetherlandsWithout a doubt ToTo's best song eva, togheter with Dune (Desert Theme). Also a great, and awesome vid!
    One thing I don't understand eighter that in the vid you see a couple of old men, who olso seem to be playbacking, while in the other vids you see a bunch of young people. EXPLAIN THIS? It's driving me nuts! :S
  • Ashley from Pgh, PaJa Rule also sampled "Africa" for his song called "Murder Reign"
  • Cameron from Southington, CtCool song, good beat, my favorite Toto song....
  • Dustin from Lincoln, NeBrad, I saw the episode on Scrubs and it was hilarious. J.D. singing Africa was very funny. Scrubs is a must watch show on NBC.
  • Jesse from Haddam, Ctpeople dont understand this song- its not that hard. It's about a guy who has choose between his lvoer and the country he's grown fond of, Africa
  • Jesse from Haddam, CtThe background music in the song is sooo amaing. It really gives the song 100% more mood and attitude, along with their amazing vocals.
  • Brad from Redding, CaThis song was just featured on an episode of "Scrubs" and it was hilarious.
  • Ariana from Lima, Peruthe melody is just perfect..the lyrics r original but not wonderful, so i guess, in my opinion, the melody is wut makes it amazing..i love it..the only problem with this song is that it remembers me of a former friend and it hurts when i listen to i try 2 avoid it..
  • Troy from London, EnglandI love this song too. Maybe the lyrics are meant to be ambiguous. Logically it really does sound like they are referring to the continent. Is it a girl or is it a continent? Possibly it's a double meaning, or possibly they are using Africa as a metaphor for love/ friendship/ relationships. Who cares? It's a beautiful tune.
  • David from Guelph, CanadaLauren, Maryville, MO,

    the lyrics are not "i guess it rains down in Africa"

    it says "I Bless the rains down in Africa"
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnAfrica was one of my favorite songs of the 80s. The instrumental track was outstanding. To my knowledge, it was one of the first Top 40 songs to mention Mt. Kilamanjaro.
  • Eamon from Motherwell, ScotlandThis was a truely inspirational song for me. In my final year at University, I had the lyrics of "Africa" above my bed and managed to tape it at # 1 on no less than 8 x different radio stations across Europe and USA. Their "Farewell in Paris" DVD is a must. Keep rockin@ fellow Toto fans.....
  • Bianca from Geelong, Vic, AustraliaMy partner and I both really love this song!!
    We are having it as our wedding song.....
    Its a loverly love story that we connect to....
    It gunna take alot to take me away from you.....Africa.
    Love you Luke!!!!!!!
  • Colby from Kansas, KsX Zibit on his cd Man Vs Machine sampled this song. The X zibit song is called "Heart of Man"
  • Geno from Peoria, IlI was a Sr. in High school in '82 so Africa was played all the time on the radio. I liked it but I think I got so sick of it because of airplay. Now if it comes on the oldies station I always turn it up and sing along. I guess that makes me an oldie!
  • Megan from Ozark, AlI really love this song...but I'm still confused.
    Is he talking about the country or a girl?
  • John from Housotn, TxIs it really "I bless the rains"? I guess I lost a bet - I always thought it was "I miss the rains" which would make more sense. Got this album mailed to me from Columbia House cuz I forgot to send the card back. Never listened to it for a year - but when I did it became one of my favorite albums. Great from beginning to end.
  • Ana from Lokev, EuropeI thnik this song talks about hope to find the life lasting love - that man that he stops along the way must be some kind of symbol that assures him that he will find love on his way. Later he is so sure that he will find love and says that "it's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you...." I like the lyrics very much.
  • Tom from Adelaide, AustraliaNot sure about the lyrics but its a beautiful flowing song. I really like it. Was in Japan last year and to my suprise EVERY toilet is stamped... you guessed it, TOTO... Hmmmm
  • Pete from Sydney, AustraliaGreat song, funny thing is, Mt. Kilimanjaro is a good 1000km (or about 600 miles, for u imperial system freaks) from the Serengeti National Park.
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaA Yamaha CS-80 keyboard formed the main track of this song, and the marimba-like solos were done on a Yamaha GS-1.
  • Ian from Maidstone, EnglandMust admit, can't stand this song, but respect to anyone who can get Kilimanjaro and Serengeti into the same line!!!!!
  • Ben from Adelaide, AustraliaXzibit sampled this on a track from Man vs Machine. It's number 5 i think. Don't know what it's called though....
  • AnonymousCould be about chasing an impossible dream. Probably about love and intense longing (It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you). For a lot of people "Africa" is a "far away place". Maybe it's about trying to escape the West or get "back to one's roots" (Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies).
  • Lauren from Maryville, Mo"I bless the rains down in Africa" has to be one of the most mis-heard lines in the history of rock. There was a website (forget the name of it) that explored misheard lyrics. My favorite of them was "I guess it rains down in Africa". (Well, DUH.) Other mishearings include marines in Africa, catching waves or rays down in Africa (as mentioned above), etc.
  • Ken from Leicester, NcJeff Porcaro on drum's ... This was his band until he went to play in rock n roll heaven... He will be missed...
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThe second - and biggest - of three major hits for Toto, the others of course being "Hold The Line" and "Rosanna". A couple of the members of Toto also appeared in the line-up of a band called the Far Corporation, who had a UK Top 10 hit in 1985 with a cover version of tyhe Led Zeppelin classic, "Stairway To Heaven".
  • Nefer from Kalamazoo, MiBest song Toto ever did. Can't explain it, but it makes me cry everytime I hear it. Love this song.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

N.W.A vs. the World

N.W.A vs. the WorldSong Writing

How the American gangsta rappers made history by getting banned in the UK.

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: '80s Edition

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: '80s EditionMusic Quiz

You know the scenes - Tom Cruise in his own pants-off dance off, Molly Ringwald celebrating her birthday - but do you remember what song is playing?

Artis the Spoonman

Artis the SpoonmanSong Writing

Even before Soundgarden wrote a song about him, Artis was the most famous spoon player of all time. So why has he always been broke?

Grateful Dead Characters

Grateful Dead CharactersMusic Quiz

Many unusual folks appear in Grateful Dead songs. Can you identify them?

Pete Anderson

Pete AndersonSongwriter Interviews

Pete produced Dwight Yoakam, Michelle Shocked, Meat Puppets, and a very memorable track for Roy Orbison.

Song Cities

Song CitiesMusic Quiz

Nirvana, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen are among those who wrote songs with cities that show up in this quiz.