Trichodesmium colony

My puffy friend, Trichodesmium thiebautii strain VI-1

I need a stage name.  I love the ocean and I love East Africa, so I thought I would try to find a Swahili name for the tiny little plant-like critters I spend so much time studying–phytoplankton.  Through some friends, I’ve found some words and through a kamusi (dictionary), I have found some double meanings.

  • kijimea – phytoplankton/microscopic algae.  I think it’s a cute word.  But it can also refer to bacteria in general, which invokes sort of a yucky feeling in many people.  I don’t speak German, but kijimea appears to be some sort of immunity-boosting supplement in Germany as well.  Spirulina, anyone?
  • ngai – red algae.  Also “God” in many Bantu languages.  Must be a mighty alga!
  • ugozi – green algae, especially the scum that grows in stagnant water.  Also racism.  There’s a story there somewhere, or at least a very interesting metaphor.


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