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Petition against Disney’s 'hakuna matata' trade mark

Written by Mekael Rahman on 19 December 2018

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There has been a petition against Disney’s ‘hakuna matata’ trade mark which has attracted over 50,000 signatures. The abovementioned Swahilian phrase which translates to ‘no problem’ is the title of a song in the 1994 animated film, The Lion King.  Disney had applied to register the said trade mark in 1994 in order to prevent the phrase being employed for unofficial merchandise. The trade mark was finally approved in 2003 and is still a valid mark.

Shelton Mpala, a Zimbabwean activist has initiated a petition against Disney that likens the trade mark to ‘colonialism and robbery’. In his statement, he articulates the following: “Join us and say NO to DISNEY or any corporations/individuals looking to trademark languages, terms or phrases they didn’t invent. ‘Hakuna matata’ is a Swahili language phrase from East Africa; translate, it means ‘no trouble’. The word ‘hakuna’ means ‘there is not here’ while ‘matata’ means ‘problems’. 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. Disney can’t be allowed to trademark something that it didn’t invent”.

The petition organiser seems to be on a mission to induce the multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate to abandon its ‘hakuna matata’ trade mark. We eagerly await the latter’s response to the petition.

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