One of my favourite songs – Africa – is by the American rock band Toto and appeared on their fourth studio album. The song was an instant success and reached number one on the United States’ Billboard chart, although ended up being their only Billboard number one.
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 long-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
Interestingly, band members David Paich and Jeff Porcaro had never been to Africa before then, but the words, certainly for me, typify Africa and resonant with me. Africa is not just a place, it is a time. It is history. It is a land of myth and adventure, with the famed JRR Tolkien having been born in South Africa, with the small town of Hogsback in the Eastern Cape having reputedly inspired the works of Lord of the Rings. It is a land of romance, embodied by Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in Out of Africa. It is a land of big game, where the African plains teeming with wildebeest and zebra inspired the works of Ernest Hemingway in the Green Hills of Africa.
It is a land so vast that even the legendary Timbuktu can be found there. In fact, Africa is bigger than China, India, the contiguous U.S. and most of Europe—combined. It is a land of harshness, where only the strong survive and they need to stand on their own two feet in order to do so. It is a land of riches, with gold and diamonds and water and timber, and a land of poverty, with corruption, malaria, war and strife. It is a land of contrast, where the East meets the West and cultures collide, with an explosion of languages and dialects but where a nod and a smile cost nothing and mean everything.
For many, Africa is a dream. A bucket list destination, although a place where a man could spend a lifetime exploring and only cover the barest fraction. A place they have yearned for. For me, it is home. Hurry boy, she’s waiting there for you.
Love from Thanda Safari