Toto’s 1983 hit “Africa” is a prime example of glorious period-specific soft-rock cheese, a song that can fuck up your whole afternoon if you hear it in a Walgreen’s. It is not, however, the song you want to use when you’re memorializing a recently deceased African human-rights hero. That’s sort of music programming 101. Toto, after all, are white musicians who had never been to Africa when they made “Africa,” and while it’s entirely possible that Nelson Mandela did bless the rains down in Africa at some point, there is no historical record of it. So when CBS This Morning used “Africa” to soundtrack a montage of people, including Mandela’s widow, crying at Mandela’s funeral, it seemed tone-deaf at best. The members of Toto agree.
David Paich, the Toto keyboardist who co-wrote “Africa” and sang lead on it, offered this statement to The Hollywood Reporter:
CBS This Morning utilized “Africa” as the audio bed for a segment they aired this morning. As the co-writer of the song, if I had been asked for sync approval, the answer would have been a decline with a recommendation they honor the musicians of South Africa setting their sights on indigenous repertoire. This is an important day, and both I and Toto, have always held a commitment towards supporting initiatives that benefit the populace of South Africa, the continent of Africa and the entire Southern Hemisphere. We honor Nelson Mandela and will continue to support initiatives he committed his life towards.
Here’s the vaguely offending, generally just clueless footage: