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Disney Faces Backlash For Appropriating African Culture with “Hakuna Matata” Trademark

As much as we all love and appreciate the legacy of Disney’s “The Lion King,” the franchise has found itself in hot water thanks to a new online petition. 

One of the most notorious moments in the movie is the song and dance shared between Simba, Timon, and Pumba to the song “Hakuna Matata.” Whether you watched it from start to finish, it’s hard not to associate the Swahili phrase with the 1994 film. So much so, the company decided to trademark the phrase, which translates into “no worries.” 

Fast forward almost 25 years later, it seems Disney’s ownership of the African term isn’t sitting well with Shelton Mpala. The Zimbabwean activist created the petition “to draw attention to the appropriation of African culture,” according to CNN. He went on to explain that he had enough of “being exploited for financial gain by third parties” and finds it necessary to “protect” their heritage. 

Though Mpala generated over 50,000 signatures supporting his cause, not all African social figures feel the same. Liz Lenjo, a Kenyan entertainment lawyer and intellectual property, does not believe the eastern and southern continent’s culture was stolen at all because Disney’s trademark isn’t stopping their people from the use of the term. Lenjo, instead, argues that the uproar should be geared towards social media due to the internet’s “misconception and misunderstanding around intellectual property law.” 

Regardless of the surely unwanted protest, Disney has yet to acknowledge the petition and plans to release “The Lion King” remake in 2019.

– Blogged By: @iamb_chianne

About MsJennyb

Jen is a Writer and Content Curator for Baller Alert, who writes under the alias “MsJennyb.” In this role, Jen develops and contributes relevant special-themed content to attract readers. Before joining the Entertainment Industry via Baller Alert, Jen spent one year as a Freelance Writer and two years as a Human Resources assistant in a corporate office. Jen has a degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University with a concentration in Africana Studies. To contact Jen please email [email protected]

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