Bet you had no idea what the words mean in the 'Lion King' intro song

The opening song of “The Lion King” has some pretty distinctive lyrics, though few of us actually know what all of them mean.

“The Circle of Life,” starts out in Zulu before switching over to English. Here are the immortal words of Elton John, Tim Rice, and the animals of the Savannah:

“Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba

Sithi uhm ingonyama

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba

Sithi uhhmm ingonyama


Siyo Nqoba


Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala”

If you speak Zulu, it might be pretty underwhelming. But, those who aren’t fluent in the language have likely never understood those lyrics. However, we’re in luck, because now there’s a the translation of the lyrics into English, via Genius

“Here comes a lion, father

Oh yes it’s a lion

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”

From that point, the song segues into English lyrics. You probably the rest of the lyrics by heart.

As the Genius annotations explain, it’s notable that the opening of the song is sung in Zulu. It’s a language of South Africa, while all the characters’ names in “The Lion King” are in Swahili, a language of eastern and southeastern Africa. Some of the story’s elements also pull from Masai tradition, which has its own language.

And so, “The Lion King” is less a product of one nation than of pan-Africanism, and of universal values.

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