Lionel Richie left the Commodores to start a solo career. It turned out to be a great move. This song, the lead single from his second solo album, was a huge part of making Richie a superstar - even forcing MTV's hand in getting him more airplay, because the Carribean-tinged song was so popular with listeners.
The song was written by Richie himself.... including the different language piece at about the 2:00 point of the song. Fun fact: those weren't actually words. He wanted African lyrics in his song, but didn't have time for a translator, so, well, he made up a bunch of African-sounding words.
That's right. He did that.
The video was produced by Michael Nesmith, who used to be one of the Monkees and ended up being quite the music video pioneer.