Kenyan band, Them Mushrooms, are threatening Disney with legal action after accusing the company of stealing the phrase “Hakuna Matata.”
Speaking with TMZ, frontman John Katana insists his band popularized the phrase in 1982 through popular single, “Jambo Bwana.” Disney trademarked the phrase in 1994 to protect Lion King-related merchandise.
“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 that Them Mushrooms felt robbed when Disney used the phrase in Lion King, but didn’t know what they could do about it at the time.
Now that Disney has come under scrutiny due to their trademark on the Swahili phrase, TMZ has reported that Katana and Them Mushrooms “are now exploring possible legal action.”
The Lion King quote roughly translates to “no worries” in East African. Hype around the upcoming live-action film has sparked cultural appropriation complaints of the popular trademark. The main issue seems to involve the idea that Disney is commodifying part of the language.
An activist by the name of Shelton Mpala has taken to Change.org to protest the trademark. The petition already has over 141,000 signatures, and claims the studio “can’t be allowed to trademark something that it didn’t invent.”
You can watch Katana’s video via TMZ below:
Also, listen to Them Mushrooms’ “Jambo Bwana” here:
The remake of The Lion King will hit theaters July 19, 2019. You can watch the record-breaking teaser trailer below.
What do you think about Them Mushrooms’ “Hakuna Matata” claims? Let us know in the comments.