A Lion's Trail

  • A Lion's Trail
Genre : Musical
Type : Documentary
Original title :
Principal country concerned : Column : Cinema/tv
Year of production : 2002
Format : Mid-length
Running time : 55 (in minutes)

The true story behind the song, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".
The Lion Sleeps Tonight is one of the most recognisable pop songs in the world. But how many people realise that this hit tune was actually written by a Zulu musician who never earned a penny in royalties and died in poverty? A Lion's Trail traces the music back to its original source. This is a vibrant and joyous celebration of African music, featuring performances of the song from musicians across the globe.

Everyone can sing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," but how many realize its composer was a young Zulu shepherd? "A Lion's Trail" recounts how Solomon Linda's "Mbube" became the "Wimoweh" we know so well, and how his descendants still struggle to have him recognized as the true composer.

This award-winning documentary, by turns tragic and humorous, reveals how record companies and individual artists conspired to make this Zulu song an American hit, and keep the millions it earned to themselves. The film is both an indictment of the international recording industry and a celebration of a song's timeless appeal, with a cast of characters that includes Ladysmith Black Mombazo, the Manhattan Brothers, and Pete Seeger.

Dir.: Francois Verster
France / South Africa / UK / Tanzania. 2002. 55 MINS.
In English and Zulu with subtitles
55 min., color, video

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of South African freedom, SABC1, South Africa's most watched channel, recruited and trained promising new directors to tell the stories of their ten years of freedom on film.

2004 - South African Film Festival, New York
Tuesday, April 27, 2004 7:00pm
Saturday, May 1, 2004 10:00pm
Q&A with director to follow, with a special appearance by Pete Seeger.


  • Arterial network
  • Media, Sports and Entertainment Group (MSE)
  • Gens de la Caraïbe
  • Groupe 30 Afrique
  • Alliance Française VANUATU
  • Zimbabwe : Culture Fund Of Zimbabwe Trust
  • RDC : Groupe TACCEMS
  • Rwanda : Positive Production
  • Togo : Kadam Kadam
  • Niger : ONG Culture Art Humanité
  • Collectif 2004 Images
  • Africultures Burkina-Faso
  • Bénincultures / Editions Plurielles
  • Africiné
  • Afrilivres

With the support of