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Nelson Mandela‘s memorial coverage was bound to take something of a celebratory tone — but CBS News may have taken things a step too far.
During Tuesday’s coverage of the late South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary’s Soweto stadium memorial, CBS This Morning played Toto’s “Africa” over shots of grieving ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
The song could be seen as fitting, given Mandela’s status as one of the most famous individuals to ever come out of the continent — only it was written and recorded by white American men who had admittedly never traveled to Africa prior to the song’s 1982 release.
“CBS This Morning utilized “Africa” as the audio bed for a segment they aired this morning,” said Toto keyboardist and “Africa” lead vocalist David Paich, in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “As the co-writer of the song, if I had been asked for sync approval, the answer would have been a decline with a recommendation they honor the musicians of South Africa setting their sights on indigenous repertoire. This is an important day, and both I and Toto, have always held a commitment towards supporting initiatives that benefit the populace of South Africa, the continent of Africa and the entire Southern Hemisphere. We honor Nelson Mandela and will continue to support initiatives he committed his life towards.”
Among those raising an eyebrow at the song choice was NPR TV critic Eric Deggans, who took to Twitter: “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?”
To CBS’ credit, This Morning also devoted a segment to how Mandela used music to inspire social changes. Watch both clips below.
Shirley Halperin contributed to this report.
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