You may well have heard the phrase Hakuna Matata before, but are unsure of its meaning. Put simply, ‘Hakuna Matata’ is a Swahili phrase that means ‘no troubles’, similar khổng lồ the Australian expression, ‘no worries.’

Swahili, or Kiswahili, is a trade language that originated on East Africa’s coast và has loan words from Arabic, Farsi, Hindustani, Portuguese & Malay. Today 120-150 million people speak Swahili.

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The term Hakuna Matata was popularized internationally by the 1994 Disney film, The Lion King. The idea behind the phrase is that you shouldn’t be troubled by things outside your control. Tim Rice & Elton John wrote the tuy nhiên Hakuna Matata for The Lion King movie, which earned an Academy Awards nomination for Best Original song and propelled the expression into the Western world.


Hakuna Matata, sung by Pumbaa the Disney warthog

Hakuna Matata meaning broken down

Two Swahili words khung the phrase:

Hakuna ‘there are no/there is no’Matata, the plural of the word ‘problem’

The meaning of Hakuna Matata is reminiscent of the feel-good tune, “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” popularized in the 1980s by singer-songwriter Bobbie Ferrin.

Since The Lion King’s release, it’s common khổng lồ hear English speaking visitors khổng lồ East Africa—or other places where Swahili is spoken—greeting each other with the words ‘Hakuna Matata.’ However, East Africans use Hakuna Matata not so much as a greeting but rather as a response khổng lồ a greeting or as a type of condolence.

Hakuna Matata và other Swahili phrases

Hakuna Mata is mainly used in greetings as when someone asks, ‘How are you?’ A response could be, ‘No problem or conflict – Hakuna Matata.’

Sometimes it is used in admitting khổng lồ doing a specific task without complaints like ‘Can you please help me prepare lunch today?’ ‘Hakuna Matata,’ could be the response,’ explains Douglas Mmari, a Tanzanian radio show host. ‘I don’t use these words. They’re a kind of slang language that is mostly used for tourists like the word, ‘Jambo.’’ Jambo is another Swahili greeting.

Instead, “Karibu” or “Habari” is the welcome greetings that you’ll hear many Swahili speakers use.

Another Swahili proverb that starts similar khổng lồ Hakuna Matata is Hakuna masika yasiyokuwa mãng cầu mbu, which translates as ‘There isn’t a rainy season without mosquitoes.’ The meaning behind the saying is, ‘there’s always some bad that comes with the good,’ which is pretty similar to the Western expression ‘every rose has a thorn.’

More Swahili words khổng lồ know when you visit East Africa for a safari are:

Asante: Thank you

Kwaheri: Goodbye

Safari: Journey

Simba: Lion

Tembo: Elephant

Twiga: Giraffe

Hakuna Mata the song

In the animated movie, a meerkat named Timon và a warthog called Pumbaa croon the song Hakuna Matata as a philosophical conversation. Pumbaa’s name comes from another Swahili word, which is said lớn mean being foolish, silly, weak-minded, careless or negligent. They sing:

“Hakuna Matata!

What a wonderful phrase

Hakuna Matata!

Ain’t no passing craze

It means no worries

For the rest of your days

It’s our problem-free philosophy

Hakuna Matata!”

Tim Rice, an English lyricist known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, wrote the words. Elton John composed the music. Rice also worked with Disney on Aladdin và the stage adaptation of Beauty và the Beast.

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Here’s the Hakuna Matata song in full:

After Disney trademarked the Swahili words Hakuna Matata for use on t-shirts, it caused an uproar in the African community. Some activists think the trademark perpetuates colonialism, while others charge Disney with cultural appropriation of the Swahili language. They argue that language should not be patented.