Petition claims Disney's hakuna matata trademark 'exploits Africa'
A petition has been established to remove Walt Disney's trademark of the popular phrase "hakuna matata" used in The Lion King.
The petition, launched on Change.org, has already collected more than 50,000 signatures. Its next target is 75,000.
The phrase famously means "no worries' or "no problems" in Swahili, a language that is spoken widely in East Africa - including in Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Mozambique and the DRC.
According to Justia Trademarks, Walt Disney first trademarked the phrase in 1994, which is the same year that the original animated movie was released. A remake of The Lion King is due to hit big screens in July 2019.
The petition was initiated by Zimbabwean Shelton Mpala, who told the BBC that while he is not a Swahili speaker, he believes that the trademark is just another example of the exploitation of Africa.
"Disney can't be allowed to trademark something that it didn't invent," urges Mpala in the petition.
The petition has sparked plenty of conversation on Twitter. Many have condemned Disney's actions, while others said they would use the phrase as they pleased - and even print it on T-shirts - regardless of any trademark.
Instead of making noise, Kenyans can decide to print several Hakuna Matata t-shirts and see how those Disney guys will enforce the trademark. Kama NASA is a trademark and we still used it...— Lee Makwiny (@leemakwiny) December 18, 2018
I'm printing a Tshirt with the phrase "Hakuna Matata" tomorrow and there's nothing Disney will do about it. I refuse to be colonized in this modern world.— Gitz 🐐 (@GitzHQ) December 18, 2018
Disney is joking. Hakuna Matata which means "Don’t Worry" or "Their is no problem" is Literally a Them Mushroom line and it is Swahili language. You can't wake up one day and say we can't use our own Language! You visit Kenya and that's the song that welcomes you in Mombasa. 😳— BRAVIN™ (@ItsBravin) December 18, 2018
It's a Zimbabwean leading the petition to reverse the Hakuna Matata trademark, yet the real Swahili speaking countries are relaxed. I'm just shocked!— Kayelinated (@ThisIsKayeli) December 18, 2018