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Africa Lyrics

I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She's 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 old forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say
"Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you"

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had to do

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what's right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had to do

Hurry boy, she's waiting there for you

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
(I bless the rain)
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
(Gonna take the time)
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had to do
Song Info
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Submitted on
Jun 22, 2001
127 Meanings
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I don't think this song is about a girl at all. I think this song is about starting over and returning to nature and human origins... Look here... notice that he does not say "she's coming in on a 12:30 flight"... He says "she's coming in, 12:30 flight" I think "she" is the plane.

This song is about self cleansing and starting over. The rains in africa are washing away his present life. He wants to get away from the modern world and technology and politics and return to the place of human origins, Africa, which throughout history was also known as an undiscovered place. He wants to leave all the bullshit in his life and find the meaning.

This is my theory... I think it is more interesting than a love story. Also if this song is a love song then the whole Africa motif is really stupid and irrelevant... Who in their right mind would write a love song and try to incorporate a safari or a tourist trip into the lyrics...That doesn't make sense.

Great interpretation...

@Dumbdumb I like your interpretation. I've traveled in six continents in many countries, and saw it as an expansion and enhancement of my identity and life. When I moved half way thru my life to the place I wanted to be, though, it was still in the United States. Still it was a life reboot, a starting over, and had been successful (there was a girl later on, and now I'm an old retired grandpa!).

Anyway, what strikes me about this song is that it brings up the mystical, esoteric side of life, like a religious kind of experience to...

@Dumbdumb Great interpretation, I think you're dead on. Although I think the "she" could also be Africa itself (She's coming in --> coming into view, almost there). A few more things that support it:

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  • The lyrics interchange "it's waiting there for you," and "she's waiting there for you." "It's" would be a little strange if he was talking about a woman.

  • The lyrics interchange "it's waiting there for you," and "she's waiting there for you." "It's" would be a little strange if he was talking about a woman.

    i>

  • "I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become" --> basically the theme you articulated.

  • "I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become" --> basically the theme you articulated.

    "solitary company" --> he wants to be...

  • "solitary company" --> he wants to be alone, but with nature. Wouldn't make sense in a relationship.

    Wondering about two lines:

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    Here's something from the waze.net/china/africa.php website...and I think the writer has something here.....

    I hear the drums echoing tonight, But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation.

    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 symbolise Africa's tribal heritage (listen out for the bongos in the song's intro).

    She's coming in, twelve-thirty flight, The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation.

    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.

    I stopped an old man along the way, Hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies.

    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 rejuvination which fuels the new-age movement. But let us hope that the singer has not been side-tracked by Ashanti dolls and visits to Zulu shamens).

    He turned to me as if to say, Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you.

    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.

    (Chorus) It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you, It's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever 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.

    I bless the rains down in Africa. It's gonna take some time to do the things we never had. (sic)

    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 realises that his "rebirth" cannot occur within the parameters of any one culture:

    The wild dogs cry out in the night, As they grow restless longing for some solitary company.

    The singer sympathises 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.

    I know that I must do what's right, Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.

    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?

    I seek to cure what's deep inside, Frightened of this thing that I've become.

    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 "recivilise" himself.

    The chorus repeats, but later there is a single line:

    Hurry boy, she's waiting there for you.

    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. And I must confess that I don't really know much about Africa, although coincidentally I was born there–my parents lived in South Africa for five years. I must confess that I don't know much about their experiences there either, because I never felt much interest until I too came to live in a foreign country. I wonder what my parents think this song is about.

    Drums

    Song Meaning

    @Allears12 - Great interpretation, thank you for posting this.

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    how does loving Africa make anybody racist?

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    I've always liked this song, but never really could figure out the meaning of the lyrics until I listened real closely the other day and applied the words to circumstances in my own life...and they took on a real meaning for me. My interpretation is that it relates to the ever-present battle in a man's heart between ramaining a faithful husband and the lure of the uncommitted and single life.

    Africa is a metaphore for lure of the wild single life/nightlife/meat market(whatever you want to call it)that can draw a man away and fail his wife.

    "I hear the drums echo in the night" is the constant din of temptation that eventually can wear down a man until he gives in.

    "As she here's whispers of some quiet conversation" suggests his devoted wife is not distracted by such desires ad is oblivious to the tug-of-war going on in her man's heart.

    "The wild dogs cry out in the night as they grow restless longing for some solitary company" are his old friends who are still single and in the night scene on the prowl like the wild beasts in Africa longing for some prey and trying to get him to share in the spoils. He has held strong and faithful to his love but the call of the wild is wearing him down and and he is contemplating on giving in to these lusts.

    "I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become" He recognizes he could actually go through with it and it's scaring him.

    "I know that I must do what's right, sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti" Kilimanjaro is a metaphor for his conscience rising up in him to do the right thing, stay strong and remain loyal to his woman. Why the writer used Olympus to describe it I'm not sure, but it fits that Mount Olympus is actually where Zeus, the God of Greek mythology, founded his proper kingdom with his family.

    "I stoppped an old man along the way hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies. He turned to me as if to say, Hurry boy it's waiting there for you!" This is where he confided in a friend or perhaps someone like an uncle or religious figure for some sound advice. He is "frightened of this thing he's become" and is hoping this person would encouraged him to fend off these desires with "Old forgotten words or ancient melodies", a reference to the Bible and what it has to say about love, marriage and adultery, but to his suprise was told, "Go for it! Hurry before she returns, every man does it, it's just waiting there for you!"

    "The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me toward salvation" means if he can stay strong, he'll soon be reunited with his true love and past the temptations of being alone.

    "It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you. There's nothing that a hundred men or more can ever do". His battle cry that no matter how hard the world tries to lure him away, he will remain loyal to his love.

    "I blessed the rains down in Africa" is his victory cry. He conquered the storm and all the rain it dumped on him; the lonliness, darkness and temptation" and whether they knew it or not, was a blessing of hope for all those still caught in the rain.

    "It's going to take some time to do the things we never had." He is looking forward to spending the rest of his life with his wife and doing many things together they've never done before.

    @Jander "she here is the whispers"?

    @Jander This is it. I came to the same conclusion. The meaning has to be veiled because the lyricist wants to protect his wife from knowing.

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    i really love africa

    favorite song of all time b/c i used to dance to it as a kid...one of my earliest memories...and I subscribe to the belief that you can't change a favorite song

    my favorite line: "I seek to cure what's deep inside frightened of this thing that I've become."

    I love this song. I always associated it with an Australian girl that I was fond of, who returned home in 1982. I saw her plane going past Africa to Australia. Recently I looked at the lyrics and reviewed members comments about them and I got a different slant on the song. Toto released the song in 1982. Barack Obama's father died that year. He came from a traditional sheep owning tribe in Kenya. he was determined to learn about Western modern ways of life and initially worked in a Colonial type club in Kenya. From there he sent applications to Universities...

    no, because its 28 years later, not 16.

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    Holy cow! I love Africa too - in fact I'm a born and bred South Africa. Whether I am black or white is totally irrelevant. No matter where I am in the world, when I hear this song tears well up in my eyes. So, if the Nerdy whatever the heck he calls himself wants to call me racist too - go ahead. <Shakes head and walks away grumbling about uneducated fools>

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    all i know is, you guys need to youtube Andy Mckee's version of this song. it is BEYOND INCREDIBLE

    OMG YES!!! Thank you for this. Andy McKee is awesome, as is his rendition of "Africa". My only disappointment is that he didn't find a way to make the percussion continuous. :/ Still, absolutely outstanding, as he always is. Thanks for the comment!

    Also, his "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" is amazing.

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    Wow. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Many people commenting on here are making this wayyyy more complicated than it is, in my opinion! As I translates to me a woman a man loves is literally coming back in from a trip. Things to be strained between them and he knows it's time to fight for the relationship (hurry boy it's waiting there for you). He needs to fight for her. That is all.

    @sowaltongrrl The songwriter has said it is about Africa as a women, however the video defined the song as a love song to a women , a model sitting in a sweaty office...i guess it had more commercial appeal.

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    I didn't really care for the lyrics of this song, but one day I actually listened to it, not just the lyrics but also the music. That's what I imagined while listening. It's a whole story, haha. So, there's a man. And a woman. She went to Africa a while ago and he didn't know what she meant to him before she left. But while she was away, he was going insane. He realized he had to tell her what he feels. So, this song is about the day she gets back. He is impatient, waiting for her. He drives to the airport and because he is so excited, he can hear the drums, or maybe his heart beating so fast and loud ("I hear the drums echoing tonight"), but she doesn't know that he'll be there, waiting for her, she hears people around, talking. ("But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation") She always loved him, but he didn't at first, so she was disapointed with him. She is excited to get back home and see him again, but at the same time kind of sad, because she thinks he hasn't changed. ("She's coming in, 12:30 flight") I thought that's at night because of the next verse ("The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation"). He is driving, looking up the sky, so excited to finally meet her again. He kind of doesn't know what he's doing, he just wants to see her, so he stops a stranger and asks him, maybe if he knows what to say to her to make her forgive him for being such a fool. But the old man says he should just go for it. ("I stopped an old man along the way Hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies He turned to me as if to say, "Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you") I think the chorus goes back in time, when she was still in Africa, but he already realized he loves her. ("It's gonna take a lot to take me away from you There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do I bless the rains down in Africa Gonna take some time to do the things we never had") He decides that when she'll come back, he won't let her go, he will tell her the truth about his feelings. He blesses the rains down in Africa, because he knows she's there and he wants her the best, he wants the blessed rains touch her. And when she comes back, they'll take some time to do all the things they never did. ("The wild dogs cry out in the night As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company I know that I must do what's right As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become") I think he's one of those wild dogs, crying out fot her. He wants company, but no just anyone, he wants her to be with him. He's frightened of what he's become, because he cannot be the same without her, he's not happy when she's gone. So I thought that's a song playing when he's driving to the airport to pick her up, surprise her and he is impatient, just cannot wait to see her again. That's what I think.

    My Interpretation
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    The words are "I bless the rains down in Africa" Trust me, i had to sing this song in concert.

    As for racism, I don´t really think this song has anything to do with it. I think its more about a guy that loves this woman, and he´s trying to find some way to tell her that. There´s more, but it will have to wait for another time.

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