The Songs We Will Sing.

#58 : Africa: Toto: 1982.

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Africa, with the line I bless the rains down in Africa, is the most popular of Toto’s songs It was a No.1 hit single, closely followed by Rosanna which was a No.2 hit for the American rock band. The song is written by someone (David Paich) who had, at the time, never been to Africa. He had viewed a late night documentary on American television which highlighted the suffering in Africa in the early 1980s. The documentry had a huge impact on him and he could not get the images out of his head. Paich, a young white man whose only knowledge of the African landscape was what he had seen in National Geographic said, he was both moved and appalled by what he had viewed. The lyrics, the melody and the chorus just tumbled into his head and he had the song written in 10 minutes but spent another six months refining and polishing his work before sharing it with other band members. As often happens with songs that seem to have a mind and a story of their own, Paich felt like it was God channelling this music through him. Anyway I am so glad Africa made it to our ears because it is a brilliant piece of music.

Folks have different opinions about what the song is saying, some say it is a love song to a girlfriend who is coming in on the 12.30 flight and the writier has to work out if he is going to be able to leave Africa to be with her. Some say the rain is a metaphor for the tears we cry over broken hearts, yet others say the lyrics are just a bit hard to understand but the music carries the song anyway.

Personally, I think it is a love song to the continent of Africa, but there is some conflict in the words. She is coming in on the 12.30 flight and she is thinking about whispers and quiet conversations while the I in the song is thinking about the drums echoing, the wild dogs that cry out in the night, Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti and the rains down in Africa. The rains that come and bless the countryside, the rains that fill the rivers, the rains that allow crops to grow and feed a village, the rains that bring new life and sustain the amazing African wildlife, fauna, flora and people. Even though the writer has never been to Africa, he has fallen in love with her; It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you, There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.

And I understand this perfectly. My African experiences have been limited but I know how this majestic country gets under one’s skin. The geographic beauty of the landscape, the long coastlines, the oceans, the African bush which stretches on and on and on to the horizon, the animals, the people, the history, the heartaches, the victories, the hope. With Toto, I bless the rains down in Africa and may they, by the grace of God, be showers of blessing on her and her people.

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