Former tennis number one Naomi Osaka is facing a bitter reaction to the name of the new media company she launched with LeBron James – after it was revealed that the brand name “Hana Kuma” has a very clear meaning in Swahili.
Osaka, 24, who became the world’s highest-paid female athlete in 2020, earning $37 million, announced the launch of her new media production company — which will be funded by billionaire James, 37 — on Tuesday, calling it a ‘media’. ‘. A platform that focuses on culturally specific but universal stories.”
Sharing news of her project on Instagram, Osaka—who was born in Japan and raised in the United States—revealed that she called her Hana Kuma, which translates to “flower bear” in Japanese.
However, the revelation of her new work was soon met with heavy criticism after it was revealed that the brand’s name has a more explicit meaning in Swahili, where it translates to: “a woman without a vagina.”
Naomi Osaka is under fire for her new venture with LeBron James, after it was revealed that the company’s name, Hana Kuma, translates to a phrase too explicit in Swahili
Swahili is an East African language spoken by millions of people in 14 countries such as Kenya and Tanzania. Swahili is included in the list of the ten most spoken languages in the world and is spoken by more than 200 million people.
Now, many people are asking Osaka to change her company’s name as an expression of respect for her East African fans and supporters.
“If you speak Swahili, I was shocked to see this,” one person commented on an Osaka Instagram post announcing the company’s name, while another added, “This concept will not be approved in Tanzania.”
“A great noble idea although I’m not sure if I’m familiar with what the name I came up with means in Swahili,” a third voice said. “Your R&D team has slept on that name!”
One Twitter user warned that “if you keep the name ‘#hanakuma’, the name will override the news and stories you want to share.”
“The brand name is already news! I suggest a change and also to be a little respectful of the global culture. It’s not out of the question here, it protects the brand!”
Another person noted, “This means something terrible in Swahili.” “It may be too late but I think it’s worth considering a rebranding.”
Osaka has yet to comment publicly on the controversy surrounding her new brand name, but she did post a cryptic tweet on Wednesday about “overthinking,” writing: “Prayers to all thinkers.” We are going through it.
Osaka (pictured in 2019), 24, announced the launch of Hana Kuma — a new media platform — on Tuesday, revealing that the name translates to ‘bear flower’ in Japanese.
As backlash continues online, the company is already moving forward with its first project — a documentary produced in collaboration with the New York Times, which will focus on the first woman of color to be sworn in in Congress: Patsy Mink.
What excites me is the ability to inspire people and tell new stories, especially the ones I wanted to see as a kid. ‘I’ve always wanted to see someone kind of like me,’ Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam title holder, a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, told the New York Times.
The newspaper said James Spring Hill, which he launched with sports marketing executive Maverick Carter, will act as financing, operations and production partner for Hana Kuma.
The launch of her new company is another initiative that has gone from idea to invention with Osaka agent Stewart Dugwid.
Osaka and Duguid took off in the sports business arena with the advent of Evolve, a sports management platform that helps professional athletes connect with brand partnerships and investments.
Australian tennis head Nick Kyrgios was the first star to join the company, with Osaka praising the Canberran player’s ability to transcend his sport, thanks to his unique style, passion and personality.
Meanwhile, James became the MVP of the Final four times and Champion James the second player in the NBA to accumulate a net worth of $1 billion.