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WTF of the Week: What Was Toto’s ‘Africa’ Doing at Mandela’s Funeral?

‘CBS This Morning’ has a bit of egg on its face today (Dec. 10). The network’s morning show is facing criticism for its use of Toto‘s hit “Africa” in its coverage of Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

NPR’s TV critic Eric Deggans tweeted, “I love CBS This Morning, but couldn’t you end a segment on Mandela’s funeral with real African music instead of Toto’s Africa?” Mediaite snarked, “This song selection is reportedly the show’s worst since the funeral of Marie Curie, for which CBS’s bumper music was ‘She Blinded Me With Science.’”

While the choice of song wasn’t racially or politically insensitive, it may not have been the best to play in that situation. According to Jeff Porcaro, the lyrics deal with “a white boy…trying to write a song on Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only tell what he’s seen on TV or remembers in the past.”

In addition, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, both of which are referenced in the lyrics, are primarily located in the West African nation of Tanzania, thousands of miles from South Africa. Perhaps something by legends Hugh Masakela or Miriam Makeba, both of whom were exiled from South Africa during the Apartheid regime, would have worked better.

During Mandela’s imprisonment, he was the subject of many songs, all of which could possibly have been more appropriate. Or, if they wanted to choose a piece of music with which their audience was most likely familiar, they could have gone with something from Paul Simon‘s album ‘Graceland,’ which wedded Simon’s songwriting to the the music of South African townships.

 

Next: UCR's Interview with Steve Lukather

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