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African Chant
"Whaaaaaat's on the menuuuuuu? It could beeeeeee ceviiiiiiiiiche. Iiiiiiit's stinkyyyyyyy. Oooooooh it's Pumbaaaaaaa ..."
Timon, making up the possible lyrics for The Lion King opening, The Lion King 1

The unknown depths of the jungle are shown. The film cuts to a quieter scene, the Jungle Drums beat, and some random African Chant comes from the music. While sometimes the chant may be real, most of the time it's just random phrases of Swahili or Zulu in order for it to mean something. The go-to-guy for genuine African chants is Lebo M.

Compare Ominous Latin Chanting and One-Woman Wail.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Film - Animation 
  • The famous opening sunrise in The Lion King is possibly the Trope Maker for more modern examples. It does sound better than most other examples listed, being an actual Zulu phrase.
    Nants ingonyama! Bagaithi baba!
    Sithikum, ingonyama nyeh!
    Se nkoba
    Ingonyama, ngong iiyamabala
    Ingonyama, ngong iiyamabala
    Ingonyama, ngong iiyamabala
    Ingonyama, ngong iiyamabala
    • The trope is lampshaded in the P.O.V. Sequel, as quoted above
    • Rafiki's African Chant while taunting Simba is also a real African phrase. It means, "Thank you very much. Squashed banana. You are a baboon, and I am not." And it's definitely not "Squash bananas up his ass".
  • "Courtship" and its Dark Reprise, "Breakout/It Comes With a Pool", from Dinosaur.

    Film - Live Action 
  • District 9 has this in a few scenes.
  • Avatar has some Na'vi chants meant to invoke this trope.
  • In the film The Power of One, the song "Mother Africa", as well as the concert, in which the native Africans insult their oblivious white audience.
  • In the film Zulu, the Zulu warriors sing a praise song lauding the British defenders as Worthy Opponents before beginning their final assault.
  • Road to Zanzibar has a bit of chanting titled "African Etude".

    Live Action TV 
  • The Trope Namer is from the U.S. version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, which had a game called African Chant. It involved Wayne Brady singing to an audience member in the style of an African Chant, but the real comedy comes from the three other comedians singing and dancing in the background.
    Wayne Brady: Hey, how come I gotta do the African Chant?
    Drew Carey: Because Colin would screw it up.
  • The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency TV series has this on occasion, with real African.
  • Sally Cruikshank produced a series of animated inserts for Sesame Street involving counting up to a certain number, with the highest being 19 and the lowest being 13 (according to Muppet Wiki, there is no animation for 20).
    • Another animated Sesame Street skit involving counting to a certain number had number emerge out of seashells while a chant sounding like "Bading-a-ding bada-bading-a-ding" can be heard in the background.
    • Two alphabet songs from the same show are even sung to African tribal music.
  • "Mystery Animal" from Zoboomafoo (sung over an animation where a cartoon blob is shown morphing into the animal featured in the episode).
  • Reasonably enough, the opening and closing episodes of Roots had African songs, mostly sung by Maya Angelou (who also appeared as the elder Nyo Boto in the first episode).
  • In the Top Gear two-part Africa special, the customary theme from The A-Team was punched up with African chanting.

    Music 
  • "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" has a horribly convoluted history, but it was originally a South African song titled "Mbube", which had real Zulu chanting.
  • Peter Gabriel takes this and makes it his favorite instrument. See "In Your Eyes" and "Biko" for examples.
  • The Christian song Siyahamba, often translated in English as "We are Marching in the light of God".
  • Shakira's "Waka Waka". Justified, as it was the main theme for The World Cup in Africa, and the song's subtitle is even (This Time for Africa).
  • Zulu chanting is pervades n Paul Simon's Graceland, mainly "Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes", "You Can Call Me Al", and "Homeless" , which consists almost entirely of this.
  • Lionel Richie gives us All Night Long.
  • The Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town" uses an African-sounding chant over the chorus.
  • The Afro-Celt Sound System blends this with traditional Irish song, mixed with electronic sounds and a variety of dance rhythms. (Guest vocals by Sinead O'Connor on that track.)
  • Graceland by Paul Simon features a lot of African chant and instrumentations.

    Theatre 
  • Show Boat: The Dahomey dancers in the 1893 World's Fair sequence frighten off white visitors with their frenzied chanting and barbaric manners, then reveal it's a load of Big Applesauce — "our home just ain't Dahomey at all" but New York.
  • Parodied in The Book of Mormon, where the phrase being chanted by the Ugandans in their first song, "Hasa Diga Eebowai," is revealed to mean, "Fuck you, God."

    Video Games 
  • The 'Baba Yetu' opening-sequence from Civilization 4. It's actually just a Swahili rendition of the Lord's Prayer - but in Swahili, it comes across as some sort of tribal chant.
  • The Zulu from the sequel Civilization 5 also have one (technically two) as their theme song.
  • Grassland Grove in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze .
  • In Macro Zone forest levels of Serious Sam II and some of the jungle levels, a fight music has these stock sounds.
  • The Adventure Field's Mystic Ruins in Sonic Adventure.
  • Shivers: Happens in the background music while in the Shaman room.
  • The aforementioned Afro-Celt Sound System also did the music for Magic & Mayhem.

    Web Original 
  • Doug Walker sometimes brings up how much he dislikes this trope in his reviews whenever it's used to accompany scenes of death and devastation.

    Western Animation 


Theme TuneScore and Music TropesAmazing Freaking Grace

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