Fact Check

Rafiki Swears

Does a talking 'Lion King' book say something nasty?

Published Dec. 1, 1998


Claim:   In a talking Lion King book, Rafiki chants, "Squashed bananas up your arse."

Status:   False.

Origins:   A


talking Lion King book (the kind featuring picture buttons that each produce a different sound when pressed) provoked controversy in late 1994 when some parents claimed that the phrase uttered by the book after their children pressed the button picturing the baboon Rafiki was "Squashed bananas up his arse." The sound clip was actually a shorter version of a chant sung by Rafiki's wise shaman character throughout the film: "Asante sana. Squash banana. Wewe nugu. Mimi apana." According to Disney, this chant is Swahili for "Thank you very much. Squash banana. You're a baboon and I'm not." Disney's explanation, of course, failed to mollify those parents who remain convinced that nearly every Disney product contains hidden nasty words or images.

What Rafiki really says is "Asante sana" — Swahili for "Thank you very much" — followed by "squashed banana." As the phrases repeat over and over, they run together and produce something that does sound somewhat like "Squashed bananas up your arse."

Additional Information:   Want to hear it? Press the button below to listen to Rafiki.

        Listen to Rafiki   Listen to Rafiki
Last updated:   21 August 2007

  Sources Sources:

    Corrigan, Patricia.   "From 'The Lion King,' Lessons in Swahili."

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch.   30 July 1994   (p. D3).

    Marsh, Beezy.   "Parents Say Disney Talking Book Has a Naughty Way with Words."

    The Northern Echo.   27 May 1995.

    Smith, Mike.   "Disney's Monkey Business Hits a Dim Note!"

    The People.   27 November 1994.

    Empire.   "Do You Kiss Your Mother with That Mouth?"

    November 1996   (p. 21).

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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