Toto and “Wimoweh”? Really? The U.S. Media Still Needs Some Work on Its “Africa” Tropes.

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Dec. 10 2013 4:00 PM

U.S. Media Still Needs Some Work on Its “Africa” Tropes

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Last week the New York Daily News gave us this cringe-worthy lede on its Nelson Mandela coverage:

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

The lion of South Africa sleeps forever tonight.
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Ah yes, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” a South African song from 1939, which became internationally famous after its lyrics were turned into gibberish by white American folkies and whose original writer died in poverty, never having seen a dime in royalties. But, you know ... Africa.

Then on CBS this morning, this happened:

Here we have a song described by its own writer as “a white boy is 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."

To be fair, it must have been hard for the producers given that there really are just no songs associated with Mandela himself.

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