What on earth does “A Buna for Mama” mean?

Disney’s The Lion King was my favorite movie for many years after it was released in 1994. It still is one of my favorites even though I’m in my thirties. I’ve probably seen it a hundred times – literally; I lost count somewhere around 50 or 60 when I was in my mid-teens, and now I have little kids, and if you have little kids, you know how they are with Disney movies – and can quote just about the whole thing. I’ve always loved the Swahili phrase and song used in the movie, “hakuna matata”, and what it means: no worries. I’m a very chill person so it really suits me.

My sons were born and spent the first few years of their lives in Ethiopia, where the primary language is Amharic. Coffee is very important in Ethiopian culture, which makes it vastly superior to most cultures if you ask me. The word for coffee in Amharic is written in English as buna (“boo-nuh”).

My 4-year-old, who was just home from Ethiopia for a few months, had “Hakuna Matata” in his head after watching the movie one day. I overheard him singing along: “A buna for mama… it means no worries!” and about died laughing. How many mamas out there would not totally agree that “a coffee for mama” is about the most wonderful phrase there is? And that it does guarantee fewer worries for both mama and kiddos? And thus a song revision was undertaken in our family – I never sing it the right way anymore – and I loved it so much I even put it on a coffee mug with a picture of an Ethiopian jebena (coffee pot).

A buna for mama; it means no worries.




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