Rafiki lives in a baobab tree and is old and wise. He performs activities which are often shamanistic, but also sometimes quite silly. He tends to speak in third person when speaking of himself. Rafiki provides important counsel to the adult Simba when the latter is trying to determine his destiny. His tail looks broken and bent. His name means "friend" in Swahili.
Rafiki's character often serves as the visual narrator of the story of The Lion King. He is shown to be a dear friend to Mufasa. He presents newborn cubs 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, after picking up Simba's scent in the 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 as a sign to seek out this young deliverer from Scar's tyranny. Journeying to the area where Simba lives with Timon and Pumbaa, Rafiki observes Simba and recognizes, at least in principle, that he is suffering from a ponderous emotional burden.
To treat it, he approaches the young lion and teaches him 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. During this scene, Rafiki incessantly repeats the Swahili phrase "Asante sana, squash banana, we we nugu, mi mi apana", which roughly translates to "Thank you very much, squash banana, you are a baboon, and I am not". 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.
Judging by their meeting at Timon and Pumbaa's home, it would seem that Simba had not met Rafiki before that point, or at the very least does not remember him.
In the sequel The Lion King 2 Simba's Pride, Rafiki appears in the beginning again as the presenter of Simba and Nala's new-born cub Kiara. Later on in the film, despite protesting that Simba and Zira would forbid it, he is persuaded by Mufasa's spirit to attempt to get Zira's son Kovu and Kiara to fall in love. 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" (similar to the Swahili word for "love"). Later, when Simba exiles Kovu, he was seen sighing sadly of Kovu leaving. In the end, he acts as the host of Kiara and Kovu's wedding.
Rafiki appears briefly in the midquel The Lion King 1 1/2, and is referred to by Timon as "The Omniscient Monkey". 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 but "My work here is done" after Timon goes to find Pumbaa on his own. A deleted scene from the film revealed that Rafiki was the movie's original narrator.
TV Show Appearances
Rafiki appears 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. In one episode of the series, Rafiki is shown to have a nephew named Nefu, and at the same time Rafiki is portrayed as being a sorcerer/shaman and his walking stick is his magic staff, which Nefu messes with and ends up causing trouble, a plot somewhat similar to The Sorcerer's Apprentice. He makes occasional appearances outside of his skits in Timon and Pumbaa's stories.
Rafiki is a regular guest at the House of Mouse. Rafiki's most memorable scene was where Timon yelled there was a fly in Pumbaa's soup, and that he wanted one as well. Timon then asks Simba what's in his soup, and Simba replies that it is Rafiki, who is bathing in his soup.
He was given his own advertisement at the end of "King Larry Swings In", which advertised Rafiki partaking in special events holding things up such as tea pots in the manner in which he did with Simba.
The Lion Guard
Rafiki appears in some episodes of The Lion Guard beginning with Return of the Roar.
- Kingdom of Hearts 2
When Sora first arrives in the Pride Lands, Nala took him to see Rafiki, in the hope that Sora could save the Pride Lands and become king. Rafiki, however, saw that it was Simba's destiny, not Sora's, and reluctantly sent him on his way. Later, however, while communing with the spirits, he saw that Simba was still alive, and caught up with Sora and Nala and told them the news. When Simba succeeded in defeating Scar, Rafiki was there to officially induct him as the rightful king.
A while after Simba embraced the throne, a multiple number of ghosts of Scar began to appear around the Pride Lands and haunt the denizens. When Simba and Sora visited Rafiki for advice, he revealed that Scar's ghost is accessed from his evil power and Simba's insecure heart. Though it was hard at first, he eventually overcame his fears and saves the Pride Lands from Scar's ghost. When Simba asks Sora about the end of his quest, Rafiki informs them that the struggle will never end, because that is the circle of life, but also advices him to remember to be strong noting that it's the key to victory.
- No one in any of the films, other than himself, refers to Rafiki by his name. They either call him "the monkey" or "the baboon". His name is only used in Timon and Pumbaa and The Lion Guard.
- Rafiki seems to be inspired by past characters such as the Fairly Godmother from Cinderella. Rafiki himself acts somewhat as Simba's "Fairy Godfather".
- Rafiki's species, the mandrill, is one of the few species that aren't native to Sub-Saharan Africa. While other baboons do, the mandrill is native to the central African rainforest.
- It should be noted that there are many villainous baboons in Tarzan (which takes place in the central African rainforest) that actually would live on the savanna, as appose to the mandrill.
- Other species that don't live in Sub-Saharan Africa but were depicted living in it would include the meerkat (Timon) - which live in southern Africa - and the anteaters shown in "I Just Can't Wait to be King" - which live in South America.
- In the earliest drafts of The Lion King Rafiki was not a baboon, but a cheetah instead. Instead, Scar was a baboon.
- In the The Lion King 1½, he knows Timon and Pumbaa, ignoring the fact they didn't know who he was when first seeing him in the jungle with Nala.
- The song Rafiki sings to himself, "Asante sana, squash banana, we we nugu, mi mi apana," is Swahili for "Thank you very much, squash banana, you are a baboon and I am not".
- According to Robert Guillaume, Rafiki's voice was partially created via a failed attempt at a Jamaican accent.
- In D3: The Mighty Ducks, the giant stuffed baboon that a child wins at a carnival bears a striking resemblance to Rafiki.
- Japanese : Ryuji Saikachi (1994 – Present)
- English : the late Robert Guillaume (1994 – 2006), Khary Payton (The Lion Guard), John Kani (2019 Live Action Film)
all information on Rafiki came from http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Rafiki