Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka launched her own media company as she diversifies from the court to Hollywood. The company, whose name Hana Kuma has hormones raging in Kenya, will work in partnership with The SpringHill Company, a media conglomerate created by Lebron James, the American professional player.
The production company will produce scripted and nonfiction content, starting with a New York Times documentary about Patsy Mink, the first woman of colour elected to U.S. Congress, according to a press release. The announcement says Hana Kuma will highlight “empowering” and “culturally specific” stories.
But the company’s name – Hana Kuma, which has a vulgar translation in Kiswahili as – has stimulated interesting emotions among Kenyans, some who find the name just séxy and hilarious and others who see the vulgarity in it.
The phrase ‘Hana Kuma’, according to Osaka, means “flower bear” in Japanese. While that sounds inspirational, it has caught Kenya’s Swahili speakers pants down. It translates to “She has no vágina”.
Kenyans on Twitter spend the night interrogating the name, it’s local meaning and implication in business.
This is not the only Japanese world driving temperatures up in Kenya. There is also Kuma Moto, a common place name in Japan. Kumamoto is the capital city of Kumamoto, prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan and there is Kumamoto University and the football club Roasso Kumamoto, among other things named after island’s name.
The Kiswahili understanding of the word always has Kenyans cringing and twisting their noses – “warm vágina”! Worse, it is usually imprinted on Toyota cars produced in this city.
Other interesting Japanese town names include Kobe (tortoise), Oga (take a bath), Kitakata (it will cut) and, in this political season, Ninaruto city would be very popular with followers of Deputy President William Ruto, as it means ‘I’m With Ruto’
Meanwhile, SpringHill Company, founded by NBA star James and business partner Maverick Carter, will provide production and strategic resources to Hana Kuma, which also has partnerships with crypto exchange platform FTX and health platform Modern Health.
“There has been an explósion of creators of colour finally being equipped with resources and a huge platform,” Osaka said in the release. “In the streaming age, content has a more global perspective. 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.”
The four-time Grand Slam champion, who is worth an estimated $57 million (approx. Ksh.6.7 billion). “I honestly can’t say if I’ll personally be in anything right now. 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. I always wanted to kind of see someone like me,” said Osaka, who in May launched an athlete representation agency called Evolve.
Sample reactions from Twitter
The phrase “hana kuma” means “[she is] without a vágina” in Kiswahili, the language spoken in east and Central Africa (and oman). she will need to change the name of her media company I guess?
Imagine working at Osaka’s company as a reporter and always ending your story with “Njung’e Kang’ethe, Hana Kuma, Nairobi”
I saw “Hana Kuma” trending at night and thought it’s another protest by Kenyan women. Kumbe it’s a company.
Idk what Hana Kuma means in Japanese but that Swahili translation is not good for Naomi Osaka.