Jackie Aina is a personable YouTuber, makeup guru, entrepreneur and U.S. Army veteran by the way, who is usually trending for the right reasons. Over the weekend, Aina, who owns a lifestyle brand called FORVR Mood, caught backlash for a phrase she used on a candle in her latest collection, “Owambe.” The line is meant to represent “the life and soul of a Nigerian celebration,” but Twitter users criticized Aina for using the term “Soro Soke” as a name for one of the candles, which is a Yoruba phrase that means “Speak Up.” People were outraged because this was a trending phrase during the Nigerian #EndSARS protests in 2020, which aimed to put an end to police brutality.
“It was one of the rallying cries during EndSars. But Jackie was notably silent during the protests,” one user explained. Note that Aina is Nigerian American, so fans feel offended that she didn’t vocally support the movement, yet is trying to profit off of the phrase.
The 35-year-old social media influencer was also accused of blocking people who asked her to join in the End SARS movement by lending her platform and voice at the time.
“As a long term Jackie Aina fan, I’m so disappointed at how tone deaf this is. I didn’t even know she refused to shed light on the end sars movement till I saw several tweets about it today. And using Soro Soke as a candle name when it was the rallying cry for the movement?? 0/10,” a fan said.
Aina eventually responded to the backlash and issued an apology via her Instagram page. She said the candle will be pulled from the collection and production would be halted immediately.
“As the brand owner of Forvr Mood, I understand our decision has severely hurt members of my Nigerian community with the naming of the candle Soro Soke. We missed the mark on this and it will never happen again,” Aina wrote.
“Empowerment and respect is the ethos of FORVR and that was unfortunately not properly conveyed in the naming of the candle.”
Her instagram post continued, “We accept full responsibility and I recognize the gravity of this error; to that effect, this candle will be pulled from the market and production immediately,” the statement continued. “I apologize for the hurt this has caused and I thank you for holding us accountable.”
Whether or not people will move forward from the mistake remains to be seen, but it’s good that she acknowledged how the use of the phrase, for a product, was a tone-deaf decision.