Disney is being accused of cultural appropriation for its trademark on the words "Hakuna Matata".

A petition calling for Disney to release the trademark has attracted more than 43,000 signatures, with activists saying it is an appropriation of the Swahili language.

The phrase, which translates to "no problem" or "no worries" was used in the 1994 classic The Lion King, a live-action remake of which arrives in 2019.

While Disney reportedly applied for the trademark in 1994 and had it approved in 2003, a Zimbabwe activist named Shelton Mpala has launched the Change.org petition ahead of The Lion King's upcoming remake.

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"I liken this to colonialism and robbery, the appropriation of something you have no right over," writes Mpala on the petition's webpage. "If we were to go that route, then we owe the British royalties for everyone who speaks English, or France for when we speak French.

"Join us and say NO to DISNEY or any corporations/individuals looking to trademark languages, terms or phrases they didn't invent."

The Lion King, starring Donald Glover, Beyoncé and Chiwetel Ejiofor, is set for release in July 2019.