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The 10 most beautiful songs dedicated to Africa

From Miriam Makeba to Toto, a playlist to read, listen and see

08-10-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo

"Africa."
How many times have we heard this word, this evocation, in a piece of music?
Hundreds are the pop songs whose title bears the name of the Black Continent, every language and nation has its own song.
Here is the playlist of malindikenya.net with the 10 most beautiful songs for us dedicated to Africa.

1 " JAMMU AFRICA" - ISMAEL LO

The most lacerating musical "cry" of Africa in the world. The song is all in that prolonged sound of the last "a". But the whole song by Senegalese singer-songwriter Ismael Lo is persuasive and evocative. "Jammu Africa" is the single included in the first compilation for an international label released by Lo, in 1996. Six years earlier he had made his name with the beautiful album "Tajabone", for which he was called the "Bob Dylan of Africa".
The song is a hymn to peace (Jammu Africa means "peace in Africa" in the language of the Casamance region).
"A time will come when Africa will be unity, from here or elsewhere we are children of Africa, even if the sky has fallen, we fight for peace".


2. "AFRICA IS WHERE MY HEART LIES" - MIRIAM MAKEBA 

"Africa is where my heart lies," recites this ballad from "Mama Africa" Miriam Makeba.
A dreamy song in which the music leans like the wind on the soft hills of the savannah and the voice of the South African icon is wise, hieratic but reassuring.
The song is part of "Homeland", the twenty-first album by Miriam Makeba, released a few days after South Africa's great Freedom Day, following the definitive remission of Nelson Mandela and his candidacy for the political elections. 
"A picturesque sunset illuminates the sky, it's a magical moment pierced by light ... Africa is my hope, you know that home is where my heart lies ... Through the sea, in the African skies
through hills and valleys, this is the place where I will stay... where my heart was born."


3. AFRICA - TOTO

The world's most famous song entitled "Africa" is undoubtedly this one. Yet Toto, an American supergroup formed by the three Italian-American brothers Porcaro, has never had much to do with the Black Continent, except for drummer Jeff Porcaro's passion for Afro rhythms.
From these suggestions starts the composition of the song, set to music by Jeff on lyrics by keyboardist and singer David Paich, after watching a documentary on the beauty of Africa but also on the conditions of extreme poverty caused by prolonged drought in certain areas. From there comes the famous refrain "I bless the rains down in Africa" (I bless the rains down there in Africa).
The 1982 album "Toto IV", in which the track is included, has sold over five million copies worldwide, the single reached the third place in England and was platinum record in Italy. 

 


4 - UNDER AFRICAN SKIES - PAUL SIMON

"Graceland", the 1986 album by the great American singer-songwriter, is one of the records symbolizing the mixture of styles between American folk and traditional African music.
Recorded for the most part in Johannesburg, it suffers from Zulu echoes and deeply tribal atmospheres, treated with a unique class. In this track titled "Under the African Skies" the atmosphere is best rendered by the strings of Ray Phiri, legendary Johannesburg guitarist for more than thirty years with Simon, who died in July last year, and the bass of Bathiki Kumalo.
On the album the vocal duet is with Linda Ronstadt, but in the popular memory remains the one with Miriam Makeba in the Concerto for Nelson Mandela.
"This is the story of how we began to remember." 


5 - AFRICA UNITE - BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS

The theme of Africa and the return to the "promised land" is recurrent in the songs of the "prophet of reggae", who dedicated the entire 1979 album "Survival" to the unity of African countries, starting from the cover in which the flags of the continent's states are depicted.
"Africa Unite" confirms this theme right from the title, relying as always on the solarity of the "upbeat" rhythm and the catchy melodies of the Rasta genius. 


6 - MAMA AFRICA - CHICO CESAR

A love song by the Brazilian poet (also journalist and politician) Chico Cesar, who imagines Africa as a woman of Senegalese origin raising her children in the Bahia region.
A samba poem that declares the love for the land so similar to her own country and united also by music, dances and enthusiasm for life despite all the problems.
A song that puts joy and good humor, starting from the video with Chico Cesar's real parents. 
The song is taken from the 1995 album "Ao vivos".
"Mama Africa, it's my mother, a lonely mother who raises her children and has to work as a worker and sometimes sticks to the bottle...."


7 - MAMA AFRICA - PETER TOSH

From the most pissed off and political Jamaican reggae singer, a hymn to the African roots of every black person. The sixth studio solo album (1983) bears the same title as the song and is influenced by a long tour in Africa the year before. Already in 1977 with the song "Africans" he declared his love for the land of ancient origin. ("don't worry about where you come from, if you are dark skinned, you are an African"). Now instead he abandoned himself to pure love: "In you resides beauty, splendour, you are the kingdom of life". All this always with the pleasant support of reggae music. 


8 - AFRICA FOR AFRICA - FEMI KUTI

Father Fela was the first great educated musician of the entire African continent, he created a style that has been exported and copied all over the world. Nigerian Femi Kuti followed in his father's footsteps, writing beautifully crafted songs with engaging arrangements. In 2010 he releases "Africa for Africa", an album in which the eponymous, enthralling song stands out. 


9 - SCATTERLINGS OF AFRICA - JOHNNY CLEGG & SAVUKA

Johnny Clegg, English by birth, was the first white man to break the racial laws in South Africa, performing with a black band, Juluka. Nicknamed "White Zulu", with them in 1983 he created this song that could be translated as "Disperse in Africa", which starts with the unmistakable Zulu choirs. 
Four years later he recorded the song with a new band, always South African coloured (Johnny Clegg & Savuka) and achieved worldwide success, also thanks to the inclusion of the song in the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning film "Rain Man". 


10 - AFRICA - SALIF KEITA
The albino artist from Mali is considered one of the music poets of the Continent. From the wonderful album "Folon - The past" of 1995 is taken the song whose title says it all.
Few songs express in music the word "Africa" like this: rhythms, music and Keita's "golden voice of Africa" say it all. In the lyrics, poetic and metaphorical, the "evil of Africa" of those who are forced to stay away from home and raise their children in the memory and philosophy of their land, because "it is my soul, all the time and our history". 

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