What the lyrics to 'Circle Of Life' from The Lion King actually mean

·2-min read
Photo credit: Disney
Photo credit: Disney

We all love The Lion King, but what do the lyrics to the intro song, 'Circle Of Life', actually mean?

We all grew up with Disney, which means we inevitably spent our childhood years prancing around our living rooms on all fours listening to 'Circle Of Life', imagining we were Simba looking out over Pride Rock.

We weren't, of course, in reality; but what with knowing all the lyrics and stuff we did a pretty great impression of it. Except there's one bit of the famous Elton John track that always catches us out, and it's right at the beginning. You know the one; where you kind of mumble along to the lyrics with all of the confidence and might of someone who knows what they're saying, when in reality you don't have a clue.

Have a listen below, and try to guess what on earth is being said during those very opening lines.

It goes a little something like this: "Nants ingonyama bagithi baba / Sithi uhhmm ingonyama".

Unfortunately, we're not fluent in Zulu, so didn't know what the lyrics meant off the top of our heads. And despite definitely Googled the lyrics in our time to sound like a real professional when belting it among friends (because it always seems to come on in the club, right?) we've never actually known what we're singing.

Thanks to one Tumblr post, which has done all the hard translating work for us, we finally know what those words in The Lion King's 'Circle Of Life' mean. And they make TOTAL sense.

Photo credit: Disney
Photo credit: Disney

The translation goes a little something like this:

"Nants ingonyama bagithi baba" means "There comes a lion"

"Sithi uhhmm ingonyama" means "Oh yes, it's a lion"

Which is kind of understandable, if you think about it. Because, well, the whole film's about lions. But what is life for if it's not to broaden your everyday knowledge with culture like this? You learn something new every day, and this is certainly information we'll be passing around the block.

Tim Rice, who wrote the lyrics of 'Circle Of Life', revealed Elton John composed the backing music at a surprisingly fast rate. "I gave him the lyrics at the beginning of the session at about two in the afternoon," he said (via Google Arts and Culture.)

"By half-past three, he'd finished writing and recording a stunning demo."

'Circle of Life' was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1994, along with two other songs from The Lion King: 'Hakuna Matata' and 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight,' which eventually won the award.

'Circle of Life' was also nominated for Song of the Year at the Grammys, though sadly it didn't win.

WATCH Watch The Lion King on Disney+

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