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Artist Gives 80s Hit ‘Africa’ Permanent Desert Home

2019-1-20

Many people across the world know the 1982 hit song Africa by American rock group Toto. Some people love it, others do not. Some of them might have enjoyed it in the past, but are now just tired of hearing Africa played over and over again.

But one man thinks so highly of the song he decided to create a permanent home for it in the desert. And the desert, not surprisingly, is “down in Africa.”

The man’s name is Max Siedentopf. He lives in the southern African nation of Namibia. Siedentopf has placed six loud speakers in an empty, sandy area of the Namib Desert. The speakers sit together in a group. They are connected to an MP3 player that plays Toto’s Africa – and only Africa – continuously, day and night.

A video from his website demonstrates how the music mixes with wind and other natural desert sounds.

Siedentopf declares that his music project is meant to honor “probably the most popular song of the last four decades.” The artist adds that he chose the Namib desert because it is not only the oldest desert in Africa, but the oldest in the world.

Yet the Namibian-German artist has yet to say exactly where his Africa tribute is. An image on his website identifies an area where it can be found, but it seems to cover most of the Namib. The desert extends 2,000 kilometers along Africa’s southwest coast. It covers land in Namibia, Angola and South Africa.

A photo of Max Siedentopf's tribute to the Toto hit 'Africa' is seen in the Namib desert. (maxsiedentopf.com/toto-forever)
A photo of Max Siedentopf's tribute to the Toto hit 'Africa' is seen in the Namib desert. (maxsiedentopf.com/toto-forever)

So unless Siedentopf provides more information on where his creation is, you will have a lot of difficulty finding it. By the way, the artist says he plans to keep playing the song for a very long time. Part of his website, called “Toto Forever,” notes the music player is powered by solar batteries. This, he says, will make it possible “to keep Toto going for all eternity.

Siedentopf told the BBC that since the Namib is 55 million years old, he hopes Africa would keep playing in the desert for another 55 million years. But he admitted the severe conditions in the desert will surely damage the equipment over time.

The band Toto enjoyed the height of popularity in the 1980s. It won the Grammy Award for best record album in February 1983. That year, its song Rosanna won the Grammy for best record. However, Africa did end up being the group’s one and only number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 list in 1983.

The song Africa has seen a rise in popularity in recent years. Rolling Stone magazine says a big reason for this was that that the American pop-punk band Weezer recorded the song last year. Toto has also been the subject of many internet memes.

Even before all the recent attention, Africa was already one of the most streamed songs in the world, Billboard.com reports. The song’s official YouTube video currently has more than 444 million views.

It is not the first time someone has honored Africa with an original creation. In January 2018, a YouTube user published a video of Africa playing on his self-built “Floppotron” music machine.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

decade – n. a 10-year period

tribute n. something people say or do to show respect and honor for someone

solar adj. relating to or involving the sun

eternity n. time that continues forever

meme n. an interesting object, such as a picture or video, that spreads through social media

stream v. to send continuous sound or moving images using computers