We all know the song “Circle of Life” from The Lion King. The epic beginning of the Disney favorite, where animals across the land make it to Pride Rock to watch the wise baboon, Rafiki, lift baby Simba over his land. I still get chills at the African lyrics and powerful composition!
Have you ever wondered how to sing it and what the translation means?
Lebohang “Lebo M” Morake was hired by Disney to help Hans Zimmer compose the opening credits. Being he is a South African native and producer, the union was perfect.
“Circle of Life” contains lyrics from the Zulu language and starts out with “Nants’ ingonyama, bakithi, baba. Sithi hu ‘ngonyama.” and then “Ingonyama nengwe ‘namabala.”
Unless you know the language and pronunciation, this will prove difficult to sing. But practice makes perfect!
Here’s a lyric video featuring the choir from the Broadway production of The Lion King. It will help you grasp the Zulu language.
So, what do the words translate to?
Direct translation to English can lose the meaning, but in essence, it is saying,
“Here comes a lion, father, Oh yes it’s a lion. A lion we’re going to conquer, a lion, a lion, and a leopard come to this open place.”
If you’re questioning the leopard, the Broadway version says it means, “The royal lion wears his leopard spots.” Almost as if donning a royal cloak.
Regardless of specifics, Lebo M knew what he was doing. You can check out the Zulu translated version of The Lion King here! The caption reads a small piece of trivia for you.
“Disney’s The Lion King, the only Disney movie to have ever been dubbed in a native African language. Prior to the its release on Diamond Edition, the movie has been made available for a limited time in cinemas around the world, including in South Africa where the Zulu dub will be screened in selected cinemas.”
Back in 2015, the roar of the lion awoke Melbourne Park as the performers from the incredible The Lion King stage show flash mobbed the Australian Open.
Now go on. Grab your cat, baby, or small anything, lift it to the skies and sing your heart out.