I am only minutes away from a reunion with a childhood favorite, The Lion King; Disney’s most beloved animated features of all time. I just bought my tickets to tonight’s screening.

“Can you feel the love tonight?”

Well, I feel like I want to pee (monkey emoji’s everywhere). I am so unrelaxed, very unsettled. I just can’t wait!

It’s twenty-five (25) years after the release of the original classic, The Lion King, and Disney’s decision to make a live-action 3D animated version is like the most amazing idea that they could have had for the movie’s Silver Jubilee.

Of course, having seen what movie-remakes like the Jungle Book were able to achieve, I have the highest level of expectations tonight.

About 18 years ago I watched my first Lion King movie, the first time “the circle of life” came to life, the first time I heard the “Hakuna Matata song”.

18 years down the road, I would still sing along to that amazing tune each time it was played. Imagine if they hadn’t included this old-time favorite tune. The film’s original script did not include this iconic song.

When Disney first released the Lion King, it was an animated version of Shakespearean drama; the first Disney movie to feature an original storyline. It had everything to do with succession, kingdoms, sex, death, and emptiness ringed around the story of some of Africa’s most fascinating animals; Lions, warthogs, and meerkats.

The memories are still vivid! It’s very fascinating how impactful the cartoon was on my childhood. Could it partly be why I still have a liking for Safari; and why I have inspired many trips to the real African wilderness. The only other high ranking movie of my childhood being Star Wars. I remember my dreams of becoming a Jedi at one point… True story.

There is every reason for me to have a paced heartbeat, considering how big the Lion King franchise is. A hot line up of solo songs as well collaborations from superstars will form the soundtrack.

But even greater is the star-stunned cast! The Lion King welcomes treasured characters back to the big screen in a whole new way.

  • Donald Glover as Simba
  • Beyoncé as Nala
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar
  • James Earl Jones as Mufasa
  • Seth Rogen as Pumbaa
  • Billy Eichner as Timon
  • John Oliver as Zazu
  • Keegan-Michael Key as Kamari
  • John Kani as Rafiki
  • Alfre Woodard as Sarabi
  • Florence Kasumba as Shenzi (She is Ugandan, like me)
  • Eric Andre as Azizi
  • JD McCrary as young Simba
  • Shahadi Wright Joseph as young Nala

It’s not just because The Lion King is the most appropriate title ascribed to the most-fierce predator in the African savanna because King of the Jungle is somewhat delusionary. It’s also the fact that the team of animators visited Africa to get a Real-life experience.

There are so many things I am eager to return to tonight. Below are just a few:

1. They always said that the opening scene of The Lion King was thought to be the most powerful scene. And indeed my mind returns to Pride Rock as Rafiki holds up Simba, a newly born lion cub to the King, Mufasa, and his Queen Sarabi; as the circle of life watches from below.

2. The old wise baboon Rafiki (notorious and intelligent) with his lone African accent reemphasized by a bit of Kiswahili.

3. The love between Nala and Simba, a princess and prince; she stuck with him like she knew he would certainly be king one day.

4. Of course Timon and Pumba the meerkat and warthog were always entertaining in every way. I am looking forward to a reunion with their fart jokes. 

5. The “brother, but not so much” rivalry between Mufasa and Simba’s uncle, Scar. I hated the fact that Scar always came in to stir up things. I however now appreciate the fact that he is one of the strongest characters in the movie.

6. I also return to the High School gang-setup. Scar (Mr. Hitler) and his hyena army. Florence Kasumba who stars as Shenzi, the sinister hyena leader is Ugandan like myself. 

7. Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking moments in my childhood, was that misery-scene when Uncle Scar murdered Mufasa. I return to that tonight, a bit more prepared, but I know it will be sorrowful.

8. There’s that “Hello Mickey” moment in the cartoon version; the scene where Mufasa narrates to his son, Simba, the story of the Great Kings of the past. The starlit image in the sky to which Mufasa pointed surely looked like Mickey Mouse. Will it be different in the remake? haha

9. Then there’s that scene where Rafiki says “Asante Sana, squash banana…” I always found it funny.

10. Jeez! Just everything hahaha

Even more… together with the Lion King comes a love letter to Africa by Grammy award-winning artist, Beyonce, who will be releasing a 14 track album titled ‘The Lion King: The Gift’ which includes 4 solo tracks and collaborations with superstars Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino; and a special track with her daughter, Blu Ivy. What however makes it an African album is the fact that she features African acts like Mr. Eazi, Tiwa Savage, Wiz Kid, Burna Boy, and Yemi Alade.

The Lion King and several other blockbuster movies (like King Kong, Black Panther – “Wakanda Forever”) bring Africa to the world, and since it is mused on an East African Safari setting in Magical Kenya, I have every confidence that it may also contend for the spot of the best nature documentary ever made, portraying every animal with a nearly dreamlike level of photorealism.

The movie officially begins showing tomorrow 19th July 2019 around the world, but there will be a special screening in select cinemas. I couldn’t wait for tomorrow.

Century Cinema, at Acacia Mall, will show tonight at 7:30 pm and 10:00 pm while 3D Cinema Magic (where I will be watching from) already began showing as early as 2:15 pm, and a second show at 4:30 pm. I will be there for their third and last premiere screening of the day at 7:15 pm.

“I am off to the movies…”

Written by 

My old folks call me Jonathan Benaiah but I prefer to go by as “The Ugandan Tourist“. I love to travel, write, take photos (of nature mostly). Ask me my best kind of trips and I'll tell you that it's those moments which allow me enough time in the African bush.