Harambe Lives On
The internet still isn’t over the untimely death of Harambe the gorilla.
Of course, it all started after a widely-publicized incident at the Cincinnati Zoo, where Harambe, a 17-year-old Western lowland gorilla, had lived for a year and a half. After a three-year-old boy climbed over a fence and fell into the gorilla’s enclosure, Harambe was seen both dragging him through a moat as well as doing what some experts considered to be protecting the child.
To save the boy’s life, however, a zoo worker had to shoot and kill Harambe. After his death, a media firestorm analyzed the zoo’s security and reaction, as well as the parenting abilities of the boy’s mother. But aside from the debate that takes place after any similar incident, something entirely unexpected happened: Harambe became a social media icon and a sensation among younger Americans.
If you miss the world’s most popular gorilla every day and constantly find yourself chanting, “D**ks out for Harambe,” you might be happy to know that you’re not alone, and, in fact, there might be a more respectable way to sing his praises… literally.
As it turns out, Harambe was named after a popular piece of music. Which means you just got your new theme song.
The Meaning Behind the Name
On May 27, 1999, Harambe was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas.
At the time of his birth, he was given the name Harambe. This name was specifically chosen because of a popular song—”Harambe”—made famous by Rita Marley, the widow of reggae icon Bob Marley.
As it so happens, harambee is a Swahili term meaning “let us all pull together” or “communal labor.” It’s not only a word, it’s a tradition in many cultures, and has been used especially in Kenya as a way to motivate the masses to come together.
For people who didn’t follow the news of Harambe’s death or the extensive debate that came after it, the dead gorilla’s fame might be absolutely baffling. But it’s nothing to ignore.
As with so many internet fads today, Harambe rose to popularity through memes, including jokes such as the one claiming “Bush did Harambe”— a reference to the joke/ theory that 9/11 was an inside job. To this day, it’s not uncommon for fans to interrupt news or sports broadcasts to shout something about Harambe. Viral videos from colleges, universities, and even the military praise his memory.
But there’s more. Harambe even became a write-in candidate for the 2016 U.S. presidential election. According to Public Policy Polling, Harambe had 5% support in July (more than Jill Stein), and in August he was tied with Stein at 2%.
“Harambe” by Rita Marley
Naturally, it’s also a beautiful concept for a song.
In 1988, Cuban-Jamaican singer Rita Marley came out with Harambe (Working Together for Freedom) under her label Shanachie Records.
If you’re feeling more mellow, this is a classic reggae tune with a positive message. Of course, the refrain is filled with plenty of “harambe”! And we have to admit it’s special to jam to Harambe’s namesake.
But there’s another Harambe song out there that really grabbed our attention…