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Swahili in Pop Culture

Guest Author - Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu

Swahili is spoken in many East African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, and Uganda. In fact, Swahili is now the seventh most spoken language in the world.

Lionel Ritchie's Can't Slow Down is available from Amazon.com
Swahili is making its way into our popular culture. Lionel Richie had a hit some 'All Night Long' in 1983 which featured a Swahili word in the chorus:

We're going to party Karamu, fiesta, forever

Karamu means 'party' in Swahili.


Harambe Wildlife Preserve SignDisney's 'The Lion King' had many names taken from Swahili. Simba which means 'lion', Rafiki means 'friend', Pumba (pumbaa) means fool, and the song Hakuna Matata means 'there are no worries'. At Disney World, there is a place called 'Harambe Village' taken from the Swahili word Harambee meaning 'Let's pull together'.

The movie 'Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa' makes use of Swahili as well. The large sexy male hippo is named 'Moto Moto' which literally means 'Hot Hot' in Swahili.

The granny character that beats up Alex the lion in 'Madagascar' is wearing a t-shirt that says "Jambo" on it.

World radio stations like the BBC carry programming in Swahili. If you have a world band or shortwave radio this is a great way to listen and learn Swahili.

Lionel Ritchie's "Can't Slow Down" and Disney's "The Lion King" and The Madagascar Movies
are available at Amazon.com
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Swahili Origins
Swahili Alphabet
Swahili Phrases For Tourists
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Content copyright © 2014 by Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Dawn Denton for details.

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