An online petition started by Zimbabwean activist Shelton Mpala has already received 134,000 signs on change.org. It was started to protest Disney's recent trademarking of the Swahili phrase "Hakuna Matata", that has become associated with the Lion King franchise. The phrase is specifically uttered by Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat and warthog who happen to be happy go lucky friends. The words translate to "No Worries".
While the phrase gained worldwide prominence through The Lion King, the phrase was popular in East and Southern Africa for decades before Walt Disney showed up. Its a form of greeting or reassurance, letting the other person know you're not under stress, that life is being good to you. It's trademarking by the giant entertainment corporation has been referred to as theft, or appropriation of African culture. Activists point out that Disney did not invent the phrase and therefore can't claim copyright over it.
The petition has gained momentum after getting picked by popular media giants like CNN and BBC, as well as social media sites like Facebook. Over the past week, a spike in signings has seen the total number rise from 24000 to the current 134,000. The petitioner hopes to hit the 150,000 mark soon.
It's still not clear whether the petition will convince Disney to give up the intellectual rights to the phrase, or whether the company will be compelled to do so. One thing is clear though, this is negative press for the company, just as it prepares to reboot the Lion King franchise.
The Walt Disney Company is yet to issue a statement on the issue. To sign the petition, click on the link below.
https://www.change.org/p/the-walt-disne ... una-matata
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