Since the 1994 release of The Lion King, I’ve known that “hakuna matata” means “no worries.” I’ve known every other word to the song, too. Big Lion King guy.

But it wasn’t until last week, wandering around Stone Town in Zanzibar, Tanzania, that I learned that hakuna matata actually means no worries in Swahili. And the Zanzibaristas say it all the time. Like Costa Ricans say “pura vida” or Australians say, well, “no worries.”

My mind hadn’t been so blown since I learned that the 19 in Covid-19 meant 2019, the year it was first documented. (Did everyone else know this?)

With a quick search, I learned that there are more Swahili easter eggs spread throughout the movie. “Simba” means lion, “pumbaa” means foolish, and “rafiki” means friend. The first words of the jingle that Rafiki — the wise baboon — sings while reuniting with Simba, mean thank you very much.. “Asante sana (squash banana)...”

I’ve probably seen The Lion King 50 times. I don’t know if it’s because I fell in love with the movie at 10 years old, and thus cemented my interpretation of the film at that age, but I just assumed its creators made those words up. I guess they did their homework. And I’m sure glad they did. It gave me a head start on meeting some new rafikis here in East Africa.