Tennis player Naomi Osaka has ruffled many feathers over the unintentional “offensive” name she chose to name her new media company, Hana Kuma.
The 24-year-old founded the firm in partnership with NBA star Lebron James, but people on social media are said to be furious about its interesting name choice.
“hana kuma” means “flower bear” in Japanese, but Twitter users quickly chimed in, saying that the name of Naomi’s company has a rather explicit meaning in Swahili, where it translates to “woman without a vagina,” sparking a heap of backlash from people — particularly in African countries — urging her to rebrand her company.
Naomi Osaka should forget swahili speaking audience now that she named her media "Hana Kuma"
She should have researched extensively
— Kevin Fighter (@fighter_kev) June 21, 2022
“Naomi Osaka has partnered with LeBron James to start a media company called Hana Kuma. Well, this ‘Hana Kuma’ name means something different in Swahili. I won’t say it,” Ugandan journalist Daniel Kibet tweeted. Another social user, who was clearly triggered by Naomi’s decision to call her company Hana Kuma, added, “She should have been well advised [that] it has a very vulgar meaning in Swahili which is spoken by many people.”
A third said, “Did they do a global search on what the name means? Amazing the lack of research. Lots of money, but that brand won’t fly in Africa. Let it stay in America and Japan. It’s offensive. Do you even have a clue what it means? Get rid of your ego and change the name. God forgive your ignorance.”
Naomi has not responded to the controversy surrounding the name of her company, but it’s already presumed she will most likely go ahead and rebrand her firm to avoid any confusion. Swahili is spoken by an estimated 200 million people worldwide, with most of those speakers being based in East Africa.
During her interview with The New YorkTimes, the four-time Grand Slam superstar said that she has high hopes for Hana Kuma, which she hopes to turn into a top Hollywood media business that will produce documentaries, TV shows, and original content. Lebron’s marketing firm, SpringHill, which he co-founded, is a partner of Hana Kuma.
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“What excites me is being able to inspire people and tell new stories, particularly ones that I would have wanted to see when I was a kid,” Naomi said in regards to her latest business move. “I always wanted to kind of see someone like me.”
Naomi is currently the highest-paid female athlete in sports, having made a colossal $57 million last year alone, with much of her earnings stemming from endorsement deals and partnerships with companies such as Louis Vuitton and Nike.