Beyoncé backlash: East Africans question lack of representation on new album

East Africans are complaining on social media that Beyoncé is not featuring any Swahili-speaking artists on her album to accompany the Lion King remake.

The tracklist was released on Wednesday and the album will be available from Friday, to coincide with the release of the Disney film. It reads like a who’s who of top African musicians – but most are from Nigeria.

The Lion King features characters with Swahili names, including the protagonist Simba (meaning lion), so people in East Africa are wondering where the Swahili speakers are in the music.

Beyoncé’s new song, Spirit, has attracted particular criticism as tweeters say the Swahili in the song is not sung in an authentic way.

The song opens with Swahili lyrics.

“Uishi kwa mda mrefu mfalme,” a voice chants twice, with a deeper voice responding”uishi kwa”.

The phrase means: “Long live the king.”

This is not the first time that the Lion King has raised the ire of Swahili speakers.

Last year, some Kenyans took offence when they learned that Disney had registered a trademark for the Swahili phrase “Hakuna Matata” (which translates as “no worries”) for their merchandise.

Read some of the Tweets below


A Lion King album should atleast ft a Kenyan artist. Movie inspired by the Kenyan safari, Swahili names, Simba, Rafiki, Shenzi etc n above all the Kenyan phrase HAKUNA MATATA. One might be forgiven to think nigerians speak swahili lol @Beyonce @Trevornoah

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It’s worse that @disneylionking uses Swahili..but what is even worse is that you didn’t feature any artist that speakes the language. Africa is more than just Nigeria it has 57 counties FYI… https://twitter.com/BeyLegion/status/1151124787000991746 


“The Lion King: The Gift” — curated and produced by Beyoncé — will be released this Friday – July 19th.

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Honest Kenyan@KenyanHonest

Magical Kenya 🇰🇪 very visible over here.
But I think Sauti Sol would have done some justice to Lion King track with Beyonce. Imagine them singing that swahili opening part.

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Serah N Teshna@SerahTeshna

I’m a huge Beyoncé fan but I’m still gutted there was no inclusivity in the LION KING album. Even with the little Swahili in the film it would have meant a lot to have East African sound. This was purely a west African affair. Once again, we’ve been robbed. Sad!

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