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21 Dec, 2018 03:49

Phony outrage or cultural appropriation? Disney in trouble over Hakuna Matata trademark (RT DEBATE)

Phony outrage or cultural appropriation? Disney in trouble over Hakuna Matata trademark (RT DEBATE)

For most Westerners, 'Hakuna Matata' is just something out of the Disney classic 'The Lion King,' but it's a real phrase in Swahili, widely used in eastern Africa. A petition has been launched to snatch it out of Simba's claws.

Disney trademarked the phrase, loosely translated as "no problem," to place it on clothing, footwear and headgear back in 2003, and renewed the permit in 2013. With a remake of 1994's 'The Lion King' on the way, the debate has been reignited over whether Disney had the moral right to do so. Some have compared turning a profit on the African catchphrase to colonial resource extraction.

A Change.org petition started by Zimbabwean activist Shelton Mpala calls on Disney to drop its copyright claim, accusing the entertainment giant of "an assault on the Swahili people and Africa as a whole" for trademarking something "that it didn't invent."

The petition has racked up over 110,000 signatures in two weeks.

To try and make sense of whether it's a legitimate demand, or an example of 2018-level political correctness overkill, we spoke to American political activist Anthony Rogers-Wright and Julio Rivera, editorial director of ReactionaryTimes.com and contributor to Newsmax, the Washington Times and AmericanThinker.com.

Disney's marketing of the phrase is cultural appropriation at its finest, Roger-Wights believes.

Africa is a continent that represents everything that capitalists want, everything capitalists need, but everything capitalists don't want to pay for.

"Not everything is meant to be commodified and culture is one of those things, especially when that culture doesn't belong to the corporation that is trying to appropriate and make money off it," Rogers-Wright said.

Rivera, on the other hand, called the outrage around Disney teasing its summer release "phony."

Where are we going with this next? Is Taco Bell going to be under attack?

And since Disney invested "a lot" in 'The Lion King' franchise and donated large sums of money to Africa and African causes, it's entitled to the "Hakuna Matata" trademark, Rivera believes.


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