Disney has trademarked “Hakuna Matata” and people are not happy.
The Swahili phrase (meaning “no worries, no problem”) is the name of a song featured in the original 1994 film The Lion King, as well as the upcoming remake, but many have accused the studio of culturally appropriating it.
Disney had applied to trademark the phrase when the first film was released and it has since been registered for clothing but a petition is asking the company to stop.
“Hakuna Matata has been used by most Kiswahili-speaking countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the petition argues. “Disney can’t be allowed to trademark something that it didn’t invent.
“While we respect Disney as an entertainment institution responsible for creating many of our childhood memories, the decision to trademark ‘Hakuna Matata’ is predicated purely on greed and is an insult not only the spirit of the Swahili people but also, Africa as a whole.”
The petition has amassed over 165,000 signatories but in a statement, Disney say its trademark will not affect its usage by others.
“Disney’s registration for ‘Hakuna Matata,’ which was filed in 1994, has never and will not prevent individuals from using that phrase.”
The new version of the film, directed by Jon Favreau, will see Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen and Donald Glover performing the song as they voice the roles of Timon, Puumba and Simba.
The Lion King remake will be released 19 July 2019