Everyone knows that Toto’s 1982 smash hit, Africa, is undoubtedly one of the greatest songs of all time. It’s nearly impossible not to bop your head and hum along to that famous intro: “Do do do do do do do doooo.”
And that hook? “I bless the rains down in Africa!” Amazing. But do you know the song’s fascinating backstory? And that the band never set foot in Africa? Don’t worry. We have all you need to know and more about this iconic tune.
As a child, the song’s writer (and band’s singer) David Paich attended an all-boys Catholic school, where many of the teachers had been missionaries in Africa. According to Paich, the teachers would tell him how they would bless everything.
They blessed the villagers, their homes, their books, their crops, and when it rained, the rain—which is where that famous hook, “I bless the rains down in Africa!” came from. While it sounded like a dream life to Paich, he also says that the teachers struggled out there.
According to his teachers, loneliness was the hardest thing about spending time in the African villages. “Some of them never made it into the priesthood because they needed companionship,” Paich told The Guardian in 2018. So Paich decided to write a song about someone flying to meet a lonely missionary in Africa.
But it wasn’t until the singer saw a UNICEF commercial showing families living in poverty that he decided to write a song about Africa. Since the singer never set foot on the content, he says that most of the song’s descriptions came from what he had read on National Geographic.