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The Lion King

Jelani (baboon)

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Jelani
Jelani
Biographical Information
Name

Jelani

Meaning

Powerful[1]

Gender

Male

Species

Baboon

Affiliations

Jelani's Troop

Titles

Leader of the Troop

Familial Information
Family

Dalila (aunt)
Karibu (aunt)
Mosi (cousin)
Rafiki (cousin)

Media Information
Appears

Follow the Leader

Rafiki: Where is your leader?
Anonymous Baboon: You mean your cousin, Jelani? He'd just as soon let us die.
—Rafiki upon reaching Grass Walls


Jelani is a baboon who makes his first and only appearance in Follow the Leader. He is the leader of Rafiki's former troop.

Appearance

[Jelani] looked young and strong.
—A physical description of Jelani

Jelani has the ordinary baboon appearance, but he is noticeably bigger and stronger than the baboons in his troop. He has dark gray fur, a pale chest, and brown hands and feet. He looks almost exactly like his cousin, Rafiki, but has a noticeably smaller white mane and no beard.

Personality

Jelani: I woke up early and explored the area. I've found a safe, protected spot just beyond the waterfall where the troop can live.
Rafiki: You have changed.
Jelani: I was wrong to neglect my troop. I should have moved them long ago, but I was thinking only about myself, about how pleasant it was to lie around all day. Then yesterday, when I saw Aunt Karibu fall, I realized I had put us in great danger by not acting sooner. Everyone struggled to make it here, and they almost didn't. If it hadn't been for you and Simba...from now on, the troop comes first.
Rafiki: I am happy to hear that. Now you understand what it means to be a leader.
—Rafiki and Jelani

Jelani is known to be exceptionally lazy and selfish. Despite being considered leader of his troop, he is unconcerned about the suffering of his subjects, as he is often too concerned about his own welfare to lead them to a new home. He is somewhat of a tyrant, as he frequently takes advantage of his physical power over the other baboons. When he is challenged, he easily defeats his opponent, as he is the strongest baboon in the troop. At one point, Rafiki challenges him but is backed up by Simba, the powerful king of Pride Rock. If not for Simba, Jelani would've defeated the old and weak Rafiki, showing that Jelani cares more for his power than his own family.

However, after Rafiki leads the troop to a new home, Jelani's personality begins to shift. He becomes more concerned about his family and friends, which is shown when he is willing to carry a fallen Karibu across the desert. He also takes on a new show of responsibility and dedication to his troop when he himself finds the troop a better sleeping place. He is humble and aware of his past mistakes; he even apologizes to Rafiki about the near death of his troop. Jelani understands the mistakes he's made in the past and is determined to take on full responsibility of the troop.

Information

Backstory

Jelani is a young baboon who took over the leadership of Rafiki's troop after the death of Khalfani.

The Lion King: Six New Adventures

Follow the Leader

'Rafiki: I am Rafiki, your third cousin once removed. Grass Walls is my homeland.
Jelani: Welcome home, cuz.
Rafiki: It's not a good welcome. Since I was last here, much has changed. My people are no longer happy or well-fed. The water is gone. The other animals have left.
Jelani: Things happen.
Rafiki: Why haven't you taken the troop to another dwelling place?
Jelani: Cause I don't feel like it, okay?
—Rafiki admonishes Jelani


Rafiki journeys to his former home of Grass Walls when he hears that the baboons are in trouble. Upon reaching it and finding that it has drastically changed, he asks the baboons where their leader is, and a young baboon tells him that Jelani would just as soon let them die. Rafiki asks to be taken to him, and another baboon, Dalila, agrees to take him. Rafiki asks Dalila about Jelani and how long he's been ruling, and Dalila explains that he has been leader a long time, ever since the previous leader, Khalfani, was killed by a leopard.

Rafiki asks why Jelani hasn't found the troop a new dwelling place, and Dalila cries out that her nephew is a lazy leader and only cares for himself. Simba and Rafiki wonder how anyone could be so selfish. Rafiki then explains that they're on their way to see Jelani and asks his cousin, Karibu, if she knows where he is. Karibu turns and points at a tree, revealing Jelani resting in its shade. Rafiki stalks toward the tree, and his three companions follow suit.

A big baboon is seen resting beneath the tree, with a couple youngsters scuffling in the dust around him. Rafiki stops in front of the baboon, and Simba notes that Jelani looks young and strong. The lion then stands out of the way with Dalila and Karibu. Jelani's eyes are closed, but Rafiki jolts him awake with a loud voice. Jelani opens his eyes and asks in a monotonic voice what Rafiki wants. Rafiki explains that he is Jelani's distant cousin and that Grass Walls is his home. Jelani mutters a welcome, then closes his eyes. In a trembling voice, Rafiki exclaims that this is not a good welcome. Much has changed since he was last here; his people are no longer happy or well-fed, the water is drying up, and all the other animals are gone. Jelani shrugs and tells Rafiki that "things happen."

Jelani2

Jelani helps his aunt, Karibu

Frustrated, Rafiki bangs his stick against the ground and demands to know why Jelani hasn't taken the troop to a new dwelling place. In an annoyed huff, Jelani spurts that he doesn't feel like it. Rafiki angrily asks Karibu why no one has challenged him, and Karibu explains that they'd tried, but Jelani is still the strongest baboon in the troop. Rafiki tries to object but finds nothing to say. He gazes around the broken landscape, then shakes Jelani's shoulder. Jelani opens his eyes with a start and tells Rafiki off with annoyance, claiming that he's busy. He then goes so far as to call Rafiki "Grandpa." Deeply offended, Rafiki clenches his fist and tells Jelani that it is time he learned to be a proper leader. Jelani stands up and towers over Rafiki. Simba tells Rafiki from the sidelines to take an easy. In a shaky voice, Rafiki demands Jelani find his troop a new nesting place. Jelani leans forward menacingly and asks who's going to make him. Rafiki plants his feet firmly in the dust and says, "I am."

Without waiting for an answer, he turns to the gathered baboons and announces that the troop is going to find a new dwelling place. One of the young baboons frets that the journey will be long and that many of them are sick. He asks who will lead them, to which Rafiki informs the troop that he will lead them. The baboons begin buzzing with excitement, but Jelani's booming voice breaks through the noise. He tells Rafiki that this will not happen if he can help it. The crowd gradually draws away, and Rafiki is left alone to face Jelani. Rafiki waves his stick in Jelani's face and tells him to stay where he is, but Jelani only laughs and asks if he is going to hit him with the stick.

At this moment, Simba breaks through the crowd and growls that if it were up to him, he'd just chew on Jelani's toes for awhile. Jelani steps back in surprise and asks where Simba had come from. Simba tells Jelani that he's the Lion King, ruler of the Pride Lands, and that he understands that the troop is moving out. Jelani makes a face and comments that it's a lot of hard work to move out and that "it will rain soon enough." Simba roars and says that it isn't "soon enough" for him. He announces that they're leaving in the morning and asks Jelani if he will come. Jelani swallows nervously and begrudgingly agrees. Rafiki and Simba exchange a smile, and Simba says that he'd thought Jelani would see their way.

The next morning, the troop sets out on their journey. At first, they do well and cover a lot of ground, but as the days go on, the baboons grow weak, even those who are strong and powerful like Jelani. Finally, Karibu is too weak to go on. She collapses on the ground in a mangled heap and begins pleading with the troop to go on without her. Rafiki urges her to stand on her feet, but she is unable to do even that. Jelani pushes through the crowd of huddled baboons and urges his aunt to get up. Once again, Karibu refuses. Finally, Jelani reaches down and gently hoists his aunt onto his shoulders. The baboons grow quiet and stare at Jelani until he asks them what they're waiting for. The pace quickens, and the troop heads out.

Finally, Rafiki leads his troop to a lush jungle. The baboons are relieved and eagerly crowd into their new home. The younger baboons splash playfully into a giant pool of water as Jelani carries his aunt to the river's edge. The next morning, he comes to Rafiki and says that he had woken up early that morning and explored the area. He eagerly tells him that he had found a safe area near the waterfall where the troop could rest and live. Rafiki comments that Jelani has changed, and Jelani says that he had been wrong to neglect his troop. He should have moved them out long ago, but he had been too selfish and lazy. He admits that when he saw his aunt fall, he came to his senses and realized that it was his fault they were in such a mess. The baboons had struggled so hard to make it here and had come close to death. Jelani shakes his head and says that from now on, he will think of the troop first. Rafiki nods and tells Jelani that he is happy to hear it and that now Jelani understands what it means to be a leader.

Quotes

Rafiki: Why hasn't anyone challenged him?
Karibu: They've tried. He won't let anyone else take charge. He's still the strongest baboon in the troop.
—Karibu and Rafiki about Jelani


Jelani: You again? Listen, I'm busy right now, okay? Leave me alone, Grandpa.
Rafiki: Grandpa? It's time you learned to be a proper leader.
Jelani: Oh, yeah?
Simba: Easy, Rafiki.
Rafiki: I demand that you find your troop a new source of water.
Jelani: Is that right? Who's gonna make me?
Rafiki: I am.
—Jelani argues with Rafiki


References

  1. [1]

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