Rafiki is an old and hunched over primate. Along with those features, he has wide eyes and a large smile. Though he somewhat resembles a mandrill, Rafiki has a long tail and lacks a distinctive crested head, and is usually referred to as a baboon.
Rafiki is known as the shaman of the Pride Lands, as he performs activities which are similar to those of a human tribal shaman, but he also sometimes acts quite silly. He tends to speak in third person when speaking of himself. Though he may be old and weary (he has a bad knee), he can still pack a wallop with his staff (and simian kung-fu action) if necessary. He often pops up in a bizarre manner to teach his wisdom in a rather roundabout way, and has the ability to read omens and communicate with the Great Kings of the Past.
Rafiki is a mandrill/baboon hybrid who first appeared in the Walt Disney Pictures animated film, The Lion King. He lives in a baobab tree and is presumably old and wise. He performs activities which are similar to those of a shaman, but he is 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 "my friend" in Swahili, a borrowing from the Arabic word, (رفيق, rafīq meaning friend, companion, or attendant.
In the story, "A Tale of Two Brothers", it is revealed that Rafiki, at the time, is a traveler who happens to stumble onto the Pride Lands during one of his many journeys. Zuzu arrives at his aid, and directs him to the Five Stones, which he finds easily. There, he is surrounded by Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed, but Ahadi orders them to leave. Rafiki later tells Ahadi and his sons, Taka and Mufasa, that he is seeking knowledge, and studying the African land. Later on, he becomes good friends with Mufasa. During the drought, he overhears Taka's plan to make Mufasa look bad, and manages to prevent Boma from attacking him. After an elephant escorts an injured Taka back to Pride Rock, Rafiki uses his shaman abilities to try to heal Taka, but says he'll carry a scar for the rest of his life which leads Taka to rename himself Scar. After the attack, Ahadi requests that Rafiki serve as a teacher to the future monarchs, which Rafiki agrees to do.
The Lion KingEdit
Rafiki first appears by entering Simba's ceremonial presentation. Greeting one another on top of Pride Rock, Rafiki and Mufasa embrace as close friends. A few moments later he presents newborn Simba to all the animals gathered at Pride Rock, and on the walls of his tree house home Rafiki draws a stylized lion cub to represent Simba's birth. When Simba runs away and his family believes him to be 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 area 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 living in it. He also points out that the spirit and values of Simba's dead 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 and defeating several of them as they charge at him. As Simba is fighting Scar and the hyenas a hyena from the top attacks him and he hits it in the head hard with his staff. At the end of the film, Rafiki raises Simba and Nala's newborn cub atop Pride Rock for everyone to see, echoing the beginning of the film.
The Lion King II: Simba's PrideEdit
In the sequel, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Rafiki appears in the beginning again as the presenter of Simba and Nala's newborn cub, Kiara. Later on in the film, despite protesting that both Simba and Zira would forbid it, he is persuaded by Mufasa's spirit to attempt to get Zira's son, Kovu, and Kiara to fall in love with each other. He then scolds him for making a "crazy plan" and it will never work but reluctantly goes with it and it success. He tries to make Kiara and Scar's heir Kovu fall in love with each other by taking them to a fantasy paradise called "Upendi". Later, when Simba exiles Kovu, he was seen sighing sadly at Kovu's leaving. In the end, he acts as the host of Kiara and Kovu's presumed wedding.
The Lion King 1½EditRafiki appears briefly in 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 in the original film, Rafiki also appears in a scene where he chats with Ma about telling Timon to "look beyond what he sees." Mistaking Rafiki's words of wisdom, Ma starts on her "journey of a thousand miles" to find Timon by angrily stepping on Rafiki's foot. Finally, he is in a scene where he tries to convince 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 silhouette of Rafiki appears in the theatre where Timon and Pumbaa are sitting while Ma rewinds the movie.
A deleted scene from the film revealed that Rafiki was the movie's original narrator.
The Lion King (musical)Edit
In the musical based on the film, the character of Rafiki the baboon 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 in the Zulu language. She also has a brief role in Nala's song "Shadowland", blessing Nala on her journey to find help. Instead of finding Simba's scent on dust, Rafiki hears Simba's song "Endless Night" through the wind. Rafiki meets Simba and shows him that his father lives on inside him through the song "He Lives in You". Along with 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 presents Simba's newborn cub at the end of the musical.
Kingdom Hearts IIEdit
Rafiki appears as a minor non-playable character in the Pride Lands world of the popular Disney/Square Enix video game, Kingdom Hearts II.
When Sora first arrives in the Pride Lands, Nala takes him to see Rafiki, in the hope that Sora could save the Pride Lands and become king. Rafiki, however, sees that it is Simba's destiny, not Sora's, and reluctantly sends him on his way. Later, however, while communing with the spirits, he sees that Simba is still alive, and catches up with Sora and Nala to tell them the news. When Simba succeeds in defeating Scar, Rafiki is there to officially induct him as the rightful king.
A while after Simba takes the throne, a multiple number of ghosts of Scar begin to appear around the Pride Lands and haunt the denizens. When Simba and Sora visit Rafiki for advice, he reveals that Scar's ghost is accessed from his evil power and Simba's insecure heart. Though it is hard at first, he eventually overcomes 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 advises him to remember to be strong, noting that it's the key to victory.
Rafiki appears in a few episodes of the television series, The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa, and he is given his own segment titled "Rafiki Fables".
In the episode Rafiki's Apprentice, it is revealed that Rafiki knows how to make Potions, and that his walking stick, which he always carries, has magical powers.
Also, in the episode Good Mouse Keeping it was revealed that Rafiki can grant Wishes, and can even take some of the Wishes back as well.
All Voice ActorsEdit
- The Lion King - (1994) - (film) - Robert Guillaume
- The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa - (1995–1998) - (TV series) - Robert Guillaume
- The Lion King (musical) - (1997) - (musical) - Tsidii Le Loka (original actress)
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride - (1998) - (film) - Robert Guillame (speaking and singing)
- The Lion King 1½ - (2004) - (film) - Robert Guillaume
- Kingdom Hearts II - (2005) - (video game) - Robert Guillaume
- Circle of Life (musical only)
- Rafiki Mourns
- He Lives in You (musical only)
- A Tale of Two Brothers insists that Mufasa and Rafiki met when Rafiki was only 3 years old (a Young Adult), but another book impies that Rafiki is much older than Mufasa, and even presented the lion when he himself was a cub, as Rafiki remarks that Mufasa and Simba share a likeness.
- Rafiki is referred to as a baboon, but he is really a hybrid between a mandrill and a baboon.
- In the game Kingdom Hearts, the scene where he finds out Simba is alive is copied, and while Rafiki's lips say the words "It is time" such as in the movie, the sound clip does not play.
- Rafiki doesn't live in the Pride Lands. According to The Lion King 1½, he lives several territories away, closer to Timon and his Meerkat Colony.
- Rafiki was once a very serious baboon, but along the way turns into the crazy Mandrill witch doctor seen today.