Blessing the Rains: Fieldwork Meditations on ‘Africa’ by Toto

Fieldwork Meditations on ‘Africa’ by Toto

  • Julie Jenkins Skidmore College, Anthropology Department

Abstract

As an anthropologist who works in West Africa, I have ambivalent feelings towards the 1982 song ‘Africa’ by Toto. It is a song that lyrically does not make sense, although powerfully draws its audience into a romanticized mental imagery of the continent with “drums echoing,” “wild dogs crying,” and “old men” with “long forgotten words or ancient melodies.” Despite my annoyance at and critique of the lyrics and music video, I often found myself humming the lyrics “I bless the rains down in Africa” during my fifteen months fieldwork in the small town in south-eastern Ghana. This paper explores how the song came to signify for me a plea for disconnection from the relations I had worked to develop and a celebration when that disconnection was momentarily achieved during the downpours in the rainy seasons. Fieldwork, participant observation, culture shock, West Africa

Section
Special section
Published
Feb 6, 2019
How to Cite
Jenkins, J. (2019). Blessing the Rains: Fieldwork Meditations on ‘Africa’ by Toto: Fieldwork Meditations on ‘Africa’ by Toto. Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 43(2), 100-103. https://doi.org/10.30676/jfas.v43i2.77705