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Background information
Feature films The Lion King
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse
The Lion King 1½
Television programs Timon and Pumbaa
House of Mouse
Video games The Lion King
The Lion King 1½
Kingdom Hearts II
Disney Universe
Park attractions Rafiki's Planet Watch
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
Mickey's Soundsational Parade
Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade
Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade
The Legend of the Lion King
Light Magic
Portrayed by
Portrayed by
Animators James Baxter
Voice Robert Guillaume
Kevin Michael Richardson
Performance model
Designer Joe Grant
Inspiration Frar Laurence
Honors and awards
Character information
Full name
Other names
Personality Wise, crazy, funny, cryptic, eccentric, mystical, an oracle, kind-hearted, helpful
Appearance Slender gray mandrill, elderly, broken and bent-looking tail, half bald, white hair, yellow eyes
Occupation Shaman, therapist
Alignment Good
Goal To help Simba return home and save his kingdom from Scar (in the first film)
To get Kiara and Kovu together to bring peace between the Pridelanders and Outsiders (in the sequel)
Home An ancient tree
Relatives Nefu (nephew)
Allies Mufasa, Zazu, Simba, Nala, Timon, Pumbaa, Wildebeests, Sarabi, Sarafina, Kiara, Kovu, Vitani, The Outsiders, Ma, Uncle Max, Sora, Donald Duck, Goofy, Merlin, Nefu, Little Mouse
Enemies Scar, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, The Hyena Clan, Zira, Nuka, Vitani (formerly), The Outsiders (formerly), Jumbo-Jumbo and his gang
Likes Gourds, playing around, helping Simba and his friends, safety, singing
Dislikes Scar, threats against the kingdom, hypocrisy, hyenas, Timon and Pumbaa's nonsense
Powers and abilities His Kung Fu skills, mystical abilities
Weapons His walking stick
Fate Presents Simba and Nala's newborn cub to the Pride Lands (in the first film).
Hitches together Kovu and Kiara (in the sequel).
Watches the movie with the rest of the gang (in the midquel).
Quote "The question is: whoooo ... are you?"
"He lives in you."
"Asante sana, squash banana, we we nugu, mi mi apana!"
"It doesn't matter - it's in the past!"
"Come on! You follow ol' Rafiki! He knows the way!"
"It is time!"
Ahh... The struggle never ends. That is the great Circle of Life.
―talking about the Circle of Life.[src]

Rafiki is a mandrill who is a supporting character in Disney's 1994 film The Lion King, also appearing in its two sequels The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and The Lion King 1 1/2 and television spin-off Timon and Pumbaa. He is voiced by Robert Guillaume.


Rafiki lives in a baobab tree and is old and wise. He performs activities which are often shamanistic, but also sometimes quite silly. He tends to speak in third person when speaking of himself. Rafiki provides important counsel to the adult Simba when the latter is trying to determine his destiny. His tail looks broken and bent. His name means "friend" in Swahili.

He can be a little enthusiastic when dispensing his (questionable) wisdom, such as when he hit Simba over the head, representing how the past can hurt, then saying one can either run from it or learn from it (which he demonstrated by trying to hit Simba again but the lion managed to dodge).


The Lion King

Thelionking 572
Rafiki within his tree in the original film.
ByzantinefireAdded by Byzantinefire

Rafiki's character often serves as the visual narrator of the story of The Lion King. He is shown to be a dear friend to Mufasa. He presents newborn cubs to all the animals gathered at Pride Rock, and draws a stylized lion cub on the walls of his treehouse home to represent Simba's birth. When Simba runs away and his family believes him dead, Rafiki draws his paw across the Simba drawing, obscuring it in grief. Later, after picking up Simba's scent in the dust and pollen in the air, Rafiki determines that Simba is still alive and restores the drawing, adding the full mane of an adult lion as a sign to seek out this young deliverer from Scar's tyranny. Journeying to the jungle where Simba lives with Timon and Pumbaa, Rafiki observes Simba and recognizes, at least in principle, that he is suffering from a ponderous emotional burden.

To treat it, he approaches the young lion and teaches him a few playful (and sometimes painful) lessons about learning from the past, not run from it. He also points out that the spirit and values of Simba's late father Mufasa continue to live in Simba himself. During this scene, Rafiki incessantly repeats the Swahili phrase "Asante sana, squash banana, we we nugu, mi mi apana", which roughly translates to "Thank you very much, squash banana, you are a baboon, and I am not". When Simba decides to return to Pride Rock and fight Scar for the kingship, Rafiki accompanies him, demonstrating his kung fu skills in battle against the hyenas. At the end of the film, Rafiki raises Simba and Nala's new-born cub atop Pride Rock for everyone to see, echoing the beginning of the film.

Judging by their meeting at Timon and Pumbaa's home, it would seem that Simba had not met Rafiki before that point, or at the very least does not remember him.

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride

In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Rafiki is more closely involved with the affairs and politics of the prides and is often seen with the lions. Mufasa's spirit persuades him to bring Simba's daughter Kiara and Zira's son Kovu together as a way of uniting the prides. He then asks if Mufasa is crazy and doubts that the plan will work, and is then immediately buffeted by a strong gust of wind from Mufasa's spirit. Rafiki tries to make them fall in love by singing to them about a place called "Upendi", which means "love" in Swahili. When Simba exiles Kovu, blaming him for the attack set up by Zira, Rafiki sighs sadly on seeing Kovu leave, knowing he is not part of the attack and Simba is defying his father's goals. In the end, he blesses the union of Kovu and Kiara and Kovu is welcomed into the pride. Rafiki appears briefly in The Lion King 1½, teaching Timon the philosophy of "Hakuna Matata" and later convincing Timon to follow Simba to Pride Rock to confront Scar.

The Lion King 1½

Rafiki in The Lion King 1½.
ByzantinefireAdded by Byzantinefire

Rafiki appears briefly in the midquel The Lion King 1½, and is referred to by Timon as "The Omniscient Monkey". It is revealed that it was Rafiki who taught Timon the philosophy of "Hakuna Matata". Besides appearing in the scenes he appeared in the original film, Rafiki also appears in a scene where he chats with Timon's mother and in a scene where he makes Timon go back to join his friends against Scar, albeit saying nothing but "My work here is done" after Timon goes to find Pumbaa on his own. A deleted scene from the film revealed that Rafiki was the movie's original narrator.

The Lion King Musical

In the musical based on the film, the character of Rafiki went through a minor change. Because director Julie Taymor felt that the story lacked the presence of a strong female, Rafiki was changed into a female mandrill. The role was originated on Broadway by Tsidii Le Loka, who was nominated for a Tony Award in 1998 for her performance.

Rafiki's role is expanded in the musical. She sings the song Circle of Life and her painting scene is extended. She also sings a song called "Rafiki Mourns", in which she mourns Mufasa's death. She also has a brief role in Nala's song "Shadowland", blessing Nala for her journey to find help. Instead of finding Simba's scent on dust, Rafiki hears Simba's song "Endless Night" on the wind. Rafiki meets Simba and shows him that his father lives on inside him through the song "He Lives in You" (it should be noted that Rafiki's "Asante Sana" chant is completely changed). She is present during the battle, fighting a hyena using hand-to-hand combat. She then appears adorning Simba with the king's mantle and then presents his newborn cub at the end of the play.

The Lion King: Six New Adventures

It was revealed in The Lion King: Six New Adventures, "A Tale of Two Brothers" that Rafiki was not always a resident of the Pride Lands.

Timon and Pumbaa

Rafiki in The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa.
Hey1234Added by Hey1234

Rafiki appears in a few episodes of the Timon and Pumbaa TV series and also has his own series of skits called "Rafiki Fables" in the same show. In one episode of the series, Rafiki is shown to have a nephew named Nefu, and at the same time Rafiki is portrayed as being a sorcerer/shaman and his walking stick is his magic staff, which Nefu messes with and ends up causing trouble, a plot somewhat similar to The Sorcerer's Apprentice. He makes occasional appearances outside of his skits in Timon and Pumbaa's stories, acting as a therapist. It is also shown that Rafiki can grant wishes (or as he calls them, "Rafiki Wishes", with his policy being only one wish per animal), and can take back wishes as well.

House of Mouse

Rafiki is a regular guest at Mickey Mouse's night club in the TV series House of Mouse. Rafiki's most memorable scene was where Timon yelled there was a fly in Pumbaa's soup, and that he wanted one as well. Timon then asks whats in Simba soup and he replies that it is Rafiki, who is bathing in his soup.

He was given his own advertisement at the end of "King Larry Swings In", which advertised Rafiki partaking in special events holding things up such as tea pots in the manner in which he did Simba.

Kingdom Hearts II

KHWiki This page uses content from the Kingdom Hearts Wiki The list of authors can be seen in the page revision history (view authors). As with Disney Wiki, the text of KHWiki is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.
Rafiki KHII

When Sora first arrives in the Pride Lands, Nala took him to see Rafiki, in the hope that Sora could save the Pride Lands and become king. Rafiki, however, saw that it was Simba's destiny, not Sora's, and reluctantly sent him on his way. Later, however, while communing with the spirits, he saw that Simba was still alive, and caught up with Sora and Nala and told them the news. When Simba succeeded in defeating Scar, Rafiki was there to officially induct him as the rightful king.

A while after Simba embraced the throne, a multiple number of ghosts of Scar began to appear around the Pride Lands and haunt the denizens. When Simba and Sora visited Rafiki for advice, he revealed that Scar's ghost is accessed from his evil power and Simba's insecure heart. Though it was hard at first, he eventually overcame his fears and saves the Pride Lands from Scar's ghost. When Simba asks Sora about the end of his quest, Rafiki informs them that the struggle will never end, because that is the circle of life, but also advices him to remember to be strong noting that it's the key to victory.

Disney Parks

Rafiki HKDL
Rafiki posing for a photo at Hong Kong Disneyland
S071084Added by S071084
Rafiki appears at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meet-and-greet character. He hosts the Rafiki's Planet Watch area of Disney's Animal Kingdom, an area that hosts various conservation education programs and the park's veterinary facilities. One of the various shows inside the pavilion has Rafiki profiling different endangered species and telling guests how they can help them.


Rafiki can be seen in Disney's Hollywood Studios' version of the show. He replaces King Louie by introducing the jungle sequence.

In the Tokyo DisneySea version, Rafiki arrives after the jungle mash and showcases the Circle of Life.

The Legend of the Lion King

Rafiki was the costumed character with an articulated head as the narrator of the past show.

Disney Believe

Rafiki can be seen in the live show for the Disney Dream cruise ship. Rafiki is one of the "magic makers" to help an uptight father believe in magic. Rafiki is seen right after Grandmother Willow's sequence and uses the mystery of the animal kingdom to aid the father's imagination. But much like the Broadway version of The Lion King, Rafiki is portrayed by a woman.

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

In Adventureland, Rafiki notices a disturbance in the Circle of Life and is soon informed that Scar has been revived from the dead by Hades. Rafiki also learns that Scar plots to gain immortality and rule the Pride Lands for all eternity. Rafiki guides the park guests on their quest to defeat the villainous lion.

Rafiki also has his own spell card called "Rafiki's Wisdom Stick".


  • No one in any of the films, other than himself, refers to Rafiki by his name. They either call him the "monkey" or the "baboon."
  • Rafiki is quite similar to Yoda from Star Wars, for they are both people who, at first, seem annoying to the main protagonist of the film, but are later revealed to be very wise.
  • Rafiki seems to be inspired by past characters such as the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella. Rafiki himself acts somewhat as Simba's "Fairy Godfather".
  • Rafiki's species, the mandrill, is one of the few species that aren't native to Sub-Saharan Africa. While other baboons do, the mandrill is native to the central African rainforest.
    • It should be noted that there are many villainous baboons in Tarzan (which takes place in the central African rainforest) that actually would live on the savanna, as apposed to the mandrill.
    • Other species that don't live in Sub-Saharan Africa but were depicted living in it would include the meerkat (Timon) - which live in southern Africa - and the anteaters shown in "I Just Can't Wait to be King" - which live in South America.
    • Rafiki is drawn with a pronounced tail, a contrast to the more diminished tails of real mandrills.
  • In the earliest drafts of The Lion King Rafiki was not a baboon, but a cheetah instead. Instead, Scar was a baboon.


The Disney Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Rafiki.

The Lion King

Films and shows: The Lion King | The Lion King II: Simba's Pride | The Lion King 1½ | Timon and Pumbaa | House of Mouse | Timon and Pumbaa's Wild About Safety

Video games: The Lion King | Timon & Pumbaa's Jungle Games | The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventures | Kingdom Hearts II

Attractions: Fantasmic! | Festival of the Lion King | World of Color | Disney Dreams! | Celebrate the Magic

Original Film Characters: Simba | Nala | Mufasa | Scar | Rafiki | Timon | Pumbaa | Zazu | Shenzi, Banzai and Ed | Sarabi | Sarafina | Pridelanders | Hyena Clan | Wildebeests | Cape Buffalo | Gopher | Diku (Deleted Character)

Sequel Characters: Kiara | Kovu | Zira | Vitani | Nuka | Outsiders | Crocodiles

Midquel Characters: Ma | Uncle Max | Iron Joe | Meerkat Colony

Timon and Pumbaa Characters: Native Chief | The Three Natives | Monti | Baampu | Nobi | Fred | Quint | Bruce | Jackal | Ralph and Eddie | Teds | Savage Lion | Bartholomew | Toucan Dan | The Vulture Police | Uncle Boaris | Boss Beaver | Boy Beaver | Lester the Whale | Speedy the Snail | Smolder the Bear | Little Jimmy | Irwin | El Toro | Wolverine | Jumbo Jumbo | Cheetato and Cheetata | Rita Book | Captain Bloodbeard | Cisco Pig | Cisco Pig's Gang | Dr. Caliostro | Torgo | Meerkat Angel | Ned the Elephant | Rabbit | Pumbaa Jr. | Nefu | Dr. Happy | Leslie Lambeau | Sharla | Herman | Lara | Claudius | Madame Credenza | Duke Meerkat | Tatiana | Mother Eagle | Baby Earl | King Leopold | Princess Claudia | Pimon and Tumbaa | Mad Dog McGraw, Billy the Goat, and Three-fingered Jackelope

Locations: Africa | Mount Kilimanjaro | Pride Rock | Pride Lands | Water Hole | Elephant Graveyard | The Gorge | Hakuna Matata (location) | The Jungle | Rafiki's Ancient Tree | The Outlands | Madame Credenza's Place | Savage Rock | Boss Beaver's Log Land

Songs: Circle of Life | I Just Can't Wait to Be King | Be Prepared | Hakuna Matata | Can You Feel the Love Tonight | This Land | ...To Die For | Under the Stars | King of Pride Rock | Busa | He Lives in You | We Are One | My Lullaby | Upendi | Not One of Us | Love Will Find a Way | Digga Tunnah | That's All I Need | The Morning Report | Lioness Hunt | Rafiki Mourns | One by One | Grasslands Chant | Chow Down | The Madness of King Scar | Shadowland | The Lion Sleeps Tonight | Endless Night | Warthog Rhapsody (Deleted Song)

Other: The Lion King (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) | Broadway Musical | Rhythm of the Pride Lands | List of Species seen in The Lion King Franchise

See also: The Disney Afternoon

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