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Kenya’s catchy pop hit that took the world by storm

Grooner Teddy Kalanda Harrison on stage during his heydays. PHOTO/COURTESY
One evening in 1979 Teddy Kalanda Harrison, a young Kenyan musician, overheard a group of tourists trying to learn a few words in Swahili.
Their enthusiastic attempts sparked an idea for a song and a global hit was born.
Jambo Bwana, also known as Hakuna Matata, went platinum in Kenya and was covered by bands around the world, including Boney M.
Teddy and his brother Billy Sarro Harrison spoke to Witness about their hit record.
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Teddy Kalanda Harrison (b. 1951) is an internationally known Kenyan musician. In 1972 he founded the music group Them Mushrooms and went on to record more than fifteen albums in their Nairobi studio.
Teddy Kalanda Harrison on stage. PHOTO/COURTESY
He is the owner of Big Matata Productions, a record company dedicated to raising money for the charity Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice.
Jambo, originally known as Kenya Hakuna Matata and Jambo Bwana, was composed in 1980 and first recorded by Them Mushrooms. The recording sold over 200,000 copies between 1982 and 1987, receiving the platinum certification in Kenya.
Additional renditions followed with recordings produced in Sudan, Ethiopia, Dubai, Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Switzerland. In 1994 Elton John composed a song to be used in The Lion King using the title Hakuna Matata—other than borrowing the title, it bears no relationship to the Harrison composition. WEBSITE
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