Many of the local businesses advertised in Harambe are references to actual Imagineers. Mjafari Architectural Restoration Co is a reference to architect Ahmad Jafari. John Ngao's Artifacts, where you can buy shields, is a reference to landscape planner John Shields. Jorodi Masks & Beads is a reference to creative lead Joe Rohde, who also appears as a drawing on the Cap’n Bob’s Super Safaris posters.
If you ask anyone to describe Joe Rohde the first thing they will mention are his iconic earrings. Outside of the shop named after him, Jorodi Masks & Beads, is a sign advertising earrings. The shop is located on the second floor inside the Tusker House’s courtyard.
Take the time to translate the Swahilli writings in Harambe for some extra storytelling and fun. On a wall in front of the Tusker House the writing says, “There is no permission to install livestock in front of this wall”. In line for the Lion King show you will see the phrase “usiegamia kuta” repeated, which means not to sit on the railings.
More amusingly Kulewa Cafe, mentioned on a hot air balloon poster, translates in Google to “getting drunk” cafe. The Cap’n Bob poster mentions a Mauti Crocodile Farm which sounds dangerous, especially since Mauti is Swahilli for death.
Some of the fictional businesses in Harambe, such as the Harambe Theatre and Rejeresha Arts & Crafts Workshop, have posted permits to operate their businesses in the township of Harambe.
At the Harambe Theatre is a banner for the Harambe arts youth show, which is advertised as “coming next month”. As an inside joke, on the homepage of this site I’ve set this show to always display next month’s name.
The purchase of some unique handcrafted gifts include the opportunity to keep in touch with an African pen pal. Look closely at the tags on baskets and other items in Zuri’s Sweets Shop.
While Harambe is a fictional city, it was designed to resemble an East African port and Imagineers heavily based it on the small Kenyan village of Lamu. We can also determine by the North and Southbound stops listed at the train station that Harambe is somewhere between Nairobi, Kenya and Dodoma, Tanzania.
Imagineers created a fictitious town to avoid becoming linked to the political history of any specific country. It is important that this place has a history, but it’s equally important that history does not get in the way of the town’s animal driven story. Swahili was also chosen as the primary language because it crosses geographic boundaries.