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"A problem-free philosophy?" Not for Disney.
As it prepares to release the much-anticipated Lion King remake, the corporation is facing mounting backlash over its trademark of "hakuna matata," a Swahili phrase that was prominently featured in the original film. The trademark was first filed about 24 years ago; however, the hype surrounding the live-action version has reignited allegations of cultural appropriation and exploitation. There's even an online petition demanding Disney to drop the trademark, claiming the studio "can't be allowed to trademark something that it didn't invent."
John Katana, the frontman the Kenyan band Them Mushrooms, agrees.
The singer recently spoke to TMZ about Disney's legal ownership of "hakuna matata," which loosely translates to "no worries." Katana claimed the studio actually stole the phrase from his music group, which he insists popularized the phrase with their 1980s song "Jambo Bwana."
"Disney's first registration, as we've come to learn, was in 1994. This is 14 years after we had recorded the song. This song went platinum in the country. This is our national tourism anthem in Kenya," Katana said. "[...] We were a bit surprised, you know, because we said, 'Hey, these guys are have taken our phrase, but they changed the tune.'"
Katana explained he and his band mates felt robbed after learning Disney had used the phrase in the Lion King; however, they didn't know what options they had at the time.
According to TMZ, Katana and Them Mushrooms are now exploring possible legal action.
Disney's Lion King remake will hit theaters July 19, 2019.