Rafiki is an anthropomorphic baboon character who first appeared in the Walt Disney Pictures animated film The Lion King. He is an old, wise mandrill whose activities are often shamanistic, but also sometimes quite silly. Rafiki provides important counsel to the adult Simba when the latter is trying to determine his destiny. His name means "friend" in Swahili and he is voiced by veteran actor Robert Guillaume.
Rafiki in The Lion King
Rafiki's character often serves as the visual narrator of the story. He presents the newborn cub 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, through some mystical analysis of 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.
Journeying to the area where Simba lives with Timon and Pumbaa, Rafiki arrives to teach the young lion 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. 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.
Rafiki in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
In the sequel The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Rafiki appears in the beginning again as the presenter of Simba and Nala's new-born female cub Kiara. Later on in the
film, he tries to make the adult Kiara and Scar's heir Kovu fall in love with each other by taking them to a fantasy paradise called "Upendi". In the end, he acts as the host of Kiara
and Kovu's wedding.
Rafiki in The Lion King 1½
Rafiki also appears briefly in the midquel The Lion King 1½. 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.
Rafiki appeared 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.
He also appears as a minor non-playable character in the Pride Lands world of Kingdom Hearts II.