Disney Trademarks ‘Hakuna Matata’ and People Are Mad About It
As I opened my email this morning, I saw Disney was once again hard at work turning words into money. This wasn't about bibbidi bobbidi boo or supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, it is about the Swahili phrase, "Hakuna Matata." The Lion King's famous phrase wasn't created by the lovable meerkat and warthog, Timon and Pumba. It is actually a Swahili language phrase from East Africa, according to Shelton Mpala who started a Change.org petition to stop Disney from trademarking the phrase.
Mpala argues, "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." Now that Disney is trying to own this phrase, many people want to put a stop to it. They didn't create the phrase or language, so how should they be able to own?
According to a New York Times article by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura
The trademark does not mean that the company owns the phrase, or that it can ban anyone from using it. Disney filed the trademark upon the release of the original movie for clothing or footwear it sells in the United States, as a way to protect itself against other companies that might try to exploit the Disney brand.
What we should be more concerned about is the two other American companies that have already trademarked "Hakuna Matata" and none of us have even noticed, according to Kimiko. My childhood continues to pop up in the news with live action remakes and genies that are not blue and it makes my soul cry. I believe Mpala has an argument, but what will come from it? Only time will tell as Disney gets ready to release the live-action version of the Lion King