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Thousands call on Disney to drop hakuna matata trademark

PROBLEMATIC: Disney's hakuna matata trademark is hasn't gone down well

ALMOST 60,000 people have signed a petition calling for Disney give up its trademark of “hakuna matata”, a Swahili language phrase.

The company, which popularised the term around the world, after it was used by characters in its 1994 film The Lion King, has trademarked it, meaning it retains the sole right to use the term on merchandise.

In Swahili the phrase hakuna matata roughly translates to “no problem”.

Shelton Mpala has set up a petition calling for the company to remove their claim on the phrase.

Mpala said: “Disney can't be allowed to trademark something that it didn't invent.”

He told the BBC: "A lot of Swahili speakers have been utterly shocked, they had no idea this was happening."

Mpala has called on people to sign the petition and support his campaign.

Some of the petition’s signatories have shared their reasons for signing it.

One said: “Disney cannot commodify African languages.”

While another said: “This is stupid and insensitive. Colonising a phrase in another language; [similar] to attempting to trademark a phrase such as the American: ‘Have a nice day!’ or more so, the Aussie: ‘No worries!’”

Writing in Kenyan publication Business Daily, CATHY MPUTHIA of law firm C Mputhia Advocates, said: “Some words form part of our heritage and ought to be protected where possible.”

She added: “It is unfortunate that there has been a lot of pilferage of African culture over the years, through the use of intellectual property rights. This means that heritage that ought to belong to a certain group of people is instead pilfered using legal methods, whereby third parties end up being awarded sole rights. It has happened before.”

The row over the trademarked has erupted weeks after the corporation released the trailer for its remake of the 1994 hit animation.

The 2019 Lion King stars Beyoncé, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor and James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the 90s’ version.

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