LeBron James and tennis star Naomi Osaka have joined together for a new media platform they named “Hana Kuma.” Still, after revealing the name, some hammered the sports stars because the term has a sexually explicit meaning in Swahili.
The famed NBA star teamed up with the Japanese-American tennis sensation to launch a company that specializes in storytelling. And hewing to Osaka’s Japanese heritage, the duo chose to name the company “Flower Bear” in Japanese — which translates to “Hana Kuma,” Yahoo Sports reported.
Unfortunately, Hana Kuma has a vastly different meaning in another language, and many detractors immediately pointed it out on social media after the company debuted.
Apparently, in the African language of Swahili, “Hana Kuma” translates to “woman with no vagina.”
Despite being told that the name is Japanese, fans in Africa were not amused.
One Twitter user in Kenya warned Osaka that the name they chose would make a mockery of its goals to many Africans.
“If you keep the name #hanakuma, the name will override the news and the stories you wish to share,” the user wrote.
If you keep the name '#hanakuma , the name will override the news and the stories you wish to share. The name of the brand is already news! I suggest a change and also, just being a bit respectful to global culture. It's not overthinking here, it's protecting a brand!!
— Esmael Omar (@EsmaelOmarN) June 22, 2022
Another African social media user warned that many of her fellow Africans wouldn’t even be able to say the name of Osaka’s company out loud. “East Africans cannot say this even in whispers,” the user wrote.
Swahili is spoken by 200 million people in 14 countries.
Osaka seemed to reply to the controversy over the name, saying detractors are “overthinking” the whole issue.
prayers for all my overthinkers. We be going through it 😔
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) June 22, 2022