Toto: Africa Meaning
Song Released: 1982
Covered By: Weezer (2018)
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
Shes coming in 12:30 flight
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some...
anonymous Jun 17th, 2009 6:59pm report
I agree with a few posts above me. This song is about someone who has fallen in love with a girl, but he wants to discover more about Africa before he can commit himself entirely to her.
He loves her, but his love for the continent is something he must pursue on his own. "Gonna take some time to do the things we never had"
She doesn't understand his attachment to Africa. He hears the 'drums echoing tonight', but she doesn't.
Africa is his solution, his personal way of purifying himself from his own culture. "I seek to cure what's deep inside..."
One line says "She's coming in the 12:30 flight, the moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me toward salvation." This means she's coming to see him, but in the reflection of the wings of her airplane, he can see the stars of the sky, the stars of Africa that seem to call so strongly to him.
Wow, I finally get it! What a great song
anonymous Apr 7th, 2015 4:34am report
It is also about the loss of S. Africa and Rhodesia to the Communists..
"There is nothing a hundred men or more could do.." these are and I suspect he was a Soldier in the SA or Rhodesian Army. Overrun in the end by the Communists and their Financiers (Bankers and International Financiers) Those masters who simply sought to steal what others have built as they do everywhere.
One thing people refuse to accept is the Communists destroyed Rhodesia.. a country built and made a success by White Settlers..
The same must be said about South Africa, The Boers fought the British Empire much like the Americans Fought only they lost..
Apartheid was an evil.. but Blacks Slaughtering Whites destroying the economy of S. Africa and Rhodesia Destroying the nations productivity and lands held for many Generations is what?
he's in africa. and the woman he loves is going to arrive on the 12:30 flight. he's going to the airport. he stops an old man for advice(wisdom) on his relationship with the woman. he loves her so much that there is little anybody could do to cause him to give up on the woman he loves. he's hoping that once she does arrive that it rains so they will stay inside to spend more time together. when he hears the wild dogs cry out, he's thinking about how lonely he is and he thinks that is why the wild dogs are crying out. by blessing the rains, i believe that to mean that he is hoping it rains after she arrives so they can stay in to spend more time together. "doing what's right" may mean that she has found out she is pregnant and she's coming to africa to marry him. he's frightened by how much his love for her has changed his life. he want's to cure the loneliness he feels by being with her.
it really sounds like he had a one night stand with this woman and ended up falling deeply in love with her and now she's returning to africa to marry him.
anonymous Jan 10th, 1:39pm report
A phone call on the day before her flight. She talks about flight numbers, her last day at work before taking leave, her family, and so on. It brings back memories of his old, mundane life which already seems so long ago. For him, even this conversation fades into the background compared to the sense of mystery and excitement that he feels in Africa. Are the drums that he mentions real? It doesn't matter—sometimes the newcomer is more aware of the authenticity of the culture around him or her than even the locals are, and the drums here symbolize Africa's tribal heritage (listen out for the bongos in the song's intro). His heart is torn between her and Africa. Even as he watches her plane land, the newly familiar constellations of the southern sky make him think about the changes he has undergone in these few short months. This process, which he calls "salvation", has begun but not yet finished. Borrowing from the "tribal Africa" theme introduced in the first line of the song, here we encounter the image of the wise elder. Did the singer really come across this enigmatic figure on the way to an arrival-hall reunion with his girlfriend? In a sense, yes, but the occasion was months ago and the "old man" was Africa itself.
Although he might not have admitted it even to himself, the singer came to Africa with the romantic notion of learning something from the continent, some ancient secret that had already been "long forgotten" in his own materialistic modern society. (This is, of course, precisely the search for authenticity and spiritual rejuvenation which fuels the new-age movement). Africa didn't serve up "enlightenment" on a silver platter. But experiencing a different culture made him rethink his own values, and overcoming the challenges of a new environment meant changing himself. Africa didn't offer him wise teachings from the past, instead, there was only a long process of self-reflection and change awaiting him if he had the courage to pursue it. He still loves her. These months apart have reconfirmed or perhaps even strengthened that. Nothing could force him to leave her. But the thought on his mind is, what if he has to choose between her and Africa? Without exerting any kind of force, just by its mere existence, Africa might do what a hundred men or more could never do. He still loves her. These months apart have reconfirmed or perhaps even strengthened that. Nothing could force him to leave her. But the thought on his mind is, what if he has to choose between her and Africa? Without exerting any kind of force, just by its mere existence, Africa might do what a hundred men or more could never do. The singer invokes the image of rain, a classic symbol of rebirth and cleansing. But he follows immediately with a request for more time—remember that his "salvation" is not yet complete. I think "the things we never had" in the second line refers to the new experiences that he never even imagined before coming to Africa. Importantly, the pronoun is "we", because the singer doesn't want to choose between her and Africa: he hopes she will stay with him there. For how long? He doesn't give a specific length of time, but nor does he say "forever". All he knows is that now is too early to return.
In the second verse, naturalistic imagery replaces cultural references as the singer realizes that his "rebirth" cannot occur within the parameters of any one culture. The singer sympathizes with the conflicting emotions that he imagines in the wild dogs' howls. He needs more time alone with his thoughts, and can't stand the idea of returning to the hustle and bustle of his home country. And yet he doesn't want to be a hermit—he misses her. Of course, he should do what's right, but he isn't sure exactly what that is! The moralistic tone of the first line makes one think of his duty to his girlfriend, yet the image that comes to his mind is of the majestic Kilimanjaro. Is it right for his instinctive attraction to this land to overshadow the obligations that society places on him? Here is the final irony. Living in his highly developed society, he feels that deep inside he has become some kind of monster, and only by exploring outside the bounds of culture can he "re-civilize" himself. He is on the verge of meeting her at the airport. She is waiting for him, but so is Africa. If he chooses Africa instead of her, he will miss out on the experiences that they could have had in each other's company. So, of course, his hope is that she will agree to stay with him in Africa so that they can grow and change together.
This is my understanding of the song. I don't claim that it is the correct one, or the only one.
anonymous Mar 13th, 2018 3:46pm report
I don't think anyone knows what they are talking about.
anonymous Feb 18th, 2018 2:50am report
Personally, I feel like this song doesn't have a true meaning. It was made to be a hit song, but designed so that everyone could have their own special moment with it.
Simply, it's a song designed to have a meaning to everyone who experiences life.
anonymous Dec 29th, 2014 12:12am report
I can't help thinking it also has something to do with the expatriation of Germans after World War 1. Obviously, generations later, all the descendants of these colonists, might think of Africa in the back of their minds, though they never visited it. Hence, they never had experiences there. Perhaps the romantic relationship is between his grand or great-granparents.
anonymous Jul 3rd, 2012 7:53am report
Why doesnt he just marry an african chick
anonymous Mar 14th, 2012 3:05pm report
I think tht every song has a common base of love but in this song i think tht there is a troubled man in africa away from his girlfriend during a fight but while in africa he realizes the utter beauty of africa and the harmony between human and animal so he tries to change his old ways because of luv for the girl
anonymous Feb 1st, 2012 2:06pm report
I think its a love song as well and thats reflected in several of the lyrics. I think the song is referring to a long distance relationship. Either he, or his loved one is in Africa or perhaps they met on a vacation to Africa. I've heard it said many times in movies and quotes about long distance relationships that one person would "kiss the rain" and then when it rains in the other persons location all they have to do is stand in the rain to feel the blessing/ kisses of their love. maybe thats what he means by blessing the rain. Or maybe he did a rain dance ritual while he was in Africa with her. In any case its definitly a love song.
anonymous Jul 13th, 2011 7:32am report
Well the Africa song by Toto is about how this guy lives in Africa and he is in love with this girl from America and she is coming into Africa on the 12:30 flight to have the guy come with her back to America but he can't decide if he is in love with the girl or if he want's to stay in Africa.
anonymous May 3rd, 2011 5:13pm report
I think that when he hears the drums echoing, he's somewhere in Africa. When she hears quiet conversations, that's when she's on the plane. He's looking for the airplane's wings because that gives him salvation and that a hundred men could never drag him away from her because he's in soo much love with her.
anonymous Apr 20th, 2011 4:14pm report
judging from the music video, i think it's about a guy who went down to africa, had some mysterious, unexplicably magical experience with some african chick and fell in love with her, and brought her back to the usa. she completely adopted the american style of life and became a very practical historian. he's a hopeless romantic and can't let go of that experience in africa, and has to go back and find out what it all meant.
anonymous Apr 20th, 2011 4:05pm report
I personally think it's about a woman he met while in Africa and fell in love with. They didn't exactly see eye to eye, possibly because of something in his past, as mentioned later in the song. They were separated for years, then he came back to Africa, only to discover that she was gone. Somehow he got back into contact with her, and she came in on the 12:30 flight to see him. As he travels back to her home village, he sees an old man, hoping it's someone he knows with whom he can reminisce about his young romance with her. The old man silently tells him that she won't wait forever.
He loves her so much that he won't leave her, ever, and he blesses the rains in Africa that brought him to her. There were many things that they never got to do because of their separation, and as he's waiting for her, he hears the jackals and hyenas crying, and identifies with them because he's alone, without her. Something in his past it preventing him from being completely honest with her, so he knows he has to do what's right, without question (Kilimanjaro symbol). His past had created something bad within him, and he has to cure that before he can truly love her the way she deserves.
Anyway. That's just how I pictured their story going in my head the first time I heard this. It's a very poetic song, and can be interpreted many different ways. I think the drought speculation is very realistic and applies well.
anonymous Apr 8th, 2011 4:22pm report
Africa is AFRICA. Read something somewhere that mentions the liner notes (from the album) for the song. David Paich--Toto Keyboard player who wrote the song-- wrote:
"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."
And there you have it, the meaning of the song from the person who wrote it!
AnOnYmOuS1691 Sep 13th, 2010 9:15pm report
I believe it's about the very long, relentless, horrible drought that was going on in Africa at the time of the writing of this song. "I bless the rain down in Africa" means that they are asking for the rain to come and end the drought. "Not even a hundred men" means that no matter how many people try, no one can force it to rain (the cloud seeding wasn't working). Drums beating and so on would be the African natives asking for rain in their own way. This is just my interpretation. :)
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