Hakuna Matata – The story behind the hit song

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Them Mushrooms is a Kenyan musical band, playing mostly Chakacha, some Benga and also some reggae. Many of you have heard their famous song Kenya Hakuna Matata. Below is the story behind the song Hakuna Matata narrated by one of the bands co-founder Teddy Kalanda.

One evening in November 1979 after a great performance with my band Them Mushrooms at the Severin sea lodge in Mombasa, I overheard some tourists at the pool bar joking around and trying to speak Kiswahili. Jambo, Habari, Mzuri Sana, they said. An idea struck me and I thought I should write a fun song with the simplest words in Kiswahili and we could get these tourists to learn the language as they sing along with us whilst dancing to our music. This is how the song which is today the MOST WONDERFUL PHRASE in Kiswahili came to be and the rest as the saying goes is history.



On 21st February 1980 me and my band Them Mushrooms recorded four tracks at the Polygram studio in Nairobi. One of those songs was, Kenya Hakuna Matata. The song was an instant hit with the tourists where ever we played.All the other bands in Mombasa had to play it too as the tourists seemed like they just could not get enough of it.

Kenya Hakuna Matata went silver in 1982, gold in 1984 and platinum in 1987. There are to date over fifteen cover versions of Hakuna Matata. These include renditions by Liza Shakir of Sudan, Shimelis Ararso of Ethiopia, Adam Solomon of Canada,The Belgian airforce band, Samba Salad of Holland, Fausto Pred of Italy, Bo Katzman of Switzerland, Barbara Froger of France, Frank Zander and Boney M both from Germany, just to mention a few.

Kenya Hakuna Matata has been used in several films and documentaries. Hakuna Matata has been around since 1980 long before the Lion King movie came onto the scene in 1994 and took all the credit and the millions of dollars in royalties.

Now you know the story behind the song that is today the MOST WONDERFUL PHRASE in Kiswahili.

The Zambezian



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