New Internationalist

Africa: the sleeping lion rises

September 2005

Theft comes in many forms. The Minority World’s efforts to frustrate the Majority World’s control of its natural resources are well known. But cultural resources have been plundered as well.

Take the case of Solomon Linda, a Zulu herder who died in 1962 with $25 in his bank account. He recorded a melody called ‘Mbube’ in 1939. His tune became ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ which, according to journalist Rian Malan, has generated at least $15 million dollars in royalties. Incorporated into the Disney film ‘The Lion King’, the song has been recorded many times by various artists. Now Owen Dean – South Africa’s foremost copyright attorney – is seeking to restore to Africa what is Africa’s, suing the Disney Corporation on behalf of Mr Linda’s estate. Linda had three daughters: a nurse in an HIV clinic, a domestic servant in Soweto, and an unemployed mother of two. They live in shacks. Disney, always wholesome on the surface, has responded with a series of highly technical and bloodless legal parries, but the family has succeeded in securing a small trickle of money from Abilene Music, which administers the copyright. The suit continues, and has generated support from Afrophiles worldwide.

The lion, it would seem, is waking up.

This column was published in the September 2005 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Africa: the sleeping lion rises

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Currents

All Currents

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 382

New Internationalist Magazine issue 382
Issue 382

More articles from this issue

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.