Ospreyshire Origins: Pugnam Contra Fures Leonis Pt. I: The Uncrowned King of Johannesburg

Lyrics:
[Zulu]

Bass voice: Kumele adale
Baritone voice: Inkosi yethu izokwaziwa
Tenor voice: U-Linda ungumbali wangampela wengoma

Johannesburg was where the lion was born
It had a roar that shook the concert halls
Collective voices made sure no one slept
Only controlled by the uncrowned king

Ethnomusicologists stepped in
To colonize the canorous monarch’s song
That lion was poached as it reached stateside
Leaving the king without a cent to his name

What a token gesture that was thievery
New York and Burbank usurped his throne
His daughters were neglected by their greed
They had to keep that lion and king alive


We’ve got another song that involves South Africa and some Zulu lyrics much like “Lebombo”. Hooray! This also kicks off the first part of my Pugnam Contra Fures Leonis trilogy for Dear Innovare! Double Hooray! This song was an Ospreyshire first in creating a one-man acappela chamber choir song with no instruments and/or acousmatics! Triple Hooray all the way!

This song is an homage to South African musician Solomon Linda. He’s a beloved singer even to this day in that country. His biggest song was called “Mbube” which means “Lion” in the Zulu language. He invented a subgenre of South African choral music that’s named after that particular song and has been involved in that country’s Isicathamiya scene (just so you know, you’re supposed to click on the “c” when you pronounce the name of that acappella genre). Feel free to check it out!

That song got the attention of an American licensing company to take it stateside. First came Pete Seeger “adapting” the song into “wimoweh”.

Next came what became easily the best known form of covering. By covering, I mean total plagiarism. Everyone should know the biggest rip-off version by now if you didn’t figure it out from the original “Mbube” song.

Solomon Linda died before The Tokens did their stolen version of his song. To make matters worse, he died penniless and his family lived in poverty long after his passing. The surviving family members struggled and wondered why they didn’t get money from Solomon’s song. Then in 1994, there was this big animated movie that would be the straw that broke the camel’s back especially with two characters.

Image result for the lion sleeps tonight

Seriously, screw Disney. The Lion King was able to rake in over $15 million in royalties from “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and that’s not even counting the Broadway version. The Linda family with the help of journalist Rian Malan and the South African government sued the American licensing company and Disney for plagiarism in the 00s. This issue was shown in the 2019 Netflix documentary called The Lion’s Share which I actually reviewed on Iridium Eye. I don’t want to spoil the case and all the details that went into it, but Disney STILL never credited Solomon Linda and the “Mbube” song in the Lion King remake!

This rampant plagiarism, cultural appropriation, and bastardization of Africa makes my blood boil, but I’m not done yet.

We still have two more songs that deals with other aspects of the cat burglary coup of the century. Yes, I just referenced the biggest villain clone ever, but it was way too appropriate.

The picture of Solomon Linda is from Change.

The Lion King is property of Disney. The image of Timon and Pumbaa is from Financial Times and is property of Disney.

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