Naomi Osaka And LeBron James Criticised For What They've Named New Business Project
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Naomi Osaka and LeBron James have received backlash over the name of their new media company, Hana Kuma.
The two sports stars announced this week they had joined forces to work on the new venture, which is set to produce stories that are 'culturally specific but universal to all audiences'.
Osaka explained that content has 'a more global perspective' in the streaming age, so Hana Kuma hopes to help bring stories to life while making 'unique perspectives feel universal' and inspiring people along the way.
There’s reason we call ourselves an Empowerment Company. This incredible woman and the stories she is going to bring to life is EXACTLY what we about!!!Incredibly proud to call her my partner. @naomiosaka @makespringhill #MoreThananAthlete https://t.co/mellHFKP9Q— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 21, 2022
The tennis star said she is 'so excited' for the project, but many have found the name of the company overshadows what it hopes to do.
Hana Kuma means 'flower bear' in Japanese, but implies another, more explicit message in Swahilian.
Swahilian is spoken by about 98 million people across 14 countries including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, where it is the official language. In those places, Hana Kuma means 'a woman with no vagina'.
As a result of the double meaning, a number of internet users have called on Osaka to come up with a new name for the company.
"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!," one Twitter user wrote.
I’m so happy for the moves Naomi is making while she recovers from the achilles injury but the name of her new media business will get Swahili speakers choking on food or drink — Victoria Uwonkunda (@Msuwonkunda) June 21, 2022
Hana Kuma has a whole other spicy meaning in Swahili 😅. Jesu Cristo. Let KoT not catch this 😂 https://t.co/6fLlRPX2ya
Another commented: "I’m so happy for the moves Naomi is making while she recovers from the achilles injury but the name of her new media business will get Swahili speakers choking on food or drink. Hana Kuma has a whole other spicy meaning in Swahili."
Osaka does not yet appear to have publicly responded to the controversy caused by the name of her company, so it's currently unclear whether the owners will opt for a name change.
Hana Kuma already has multiple projects lined up, with Osaka noting in a statement there has been an 'explosion of creators of colour finally being equipped with resources and a huge platform'.
"You can see this in the popularity of television from Asia, Europe, and Latin America that the unique can also be universal. My story is a testament to that as well. I'm so excited for what we are building at Hana Kuma," she said.
The company is the latest project between Osaka and her agent Stuart Duguid.
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