With Disney’s live action The Lion King set to become one of the highest grossing movies in 2019, the media conglomerate has chosen to trademark the popular phrase “Hakuna Matata.” Receiving tons of backlash for monetizing parts of African culture, a petition has developed to reverse the action.
Hakuna Matata is a Swahili phrase loosely translating to “no worries” and is known to be a common phrase that circulates east and South Africa. The reversal request comes from Shelton Mpala, a Zimbabwean activist who wrote, “I liken this to colonialism and robbery, the appropriation of something you have no right over. Imagine, ‘If we were to go that route, then we owe the British royalties for everyone who speaks English, or France for when we speak French.'”
Accumulating over 100,000 signatures, Disney has yet to respond to the petition or the accusation of Colonialism but in a statement to CNN, Kenyan intellectual and entertainment attorney Liz Lenjo says the phrase has not been stolen by Disney. “East Africans or whoever speaks Swahili worldwide are not restricted from using the phrase,” Lenjo said. The fresh blowback, she further argued, shows a “misunderstanding” of the legalities surrounding the intellectual property.”
Check out the petition here.