I didn't bother with Google Translate, and went directly to four different English/Swahili online dictionaries, including the official one from Kenya. While 'star' may be one potential translation, all four agreed that the first translation was 'flowers'.
Does that matter? If it can
mean "star," that's good enough. William Rotsler wanted to give Uhura a first name that meant "Star." That's Nyota. And what's wrong with a word that means both star and flower? I think there's a rather lovely symbolism there.
I ask again, which name do you think GR would have wanted for his Kenyan communications officer, "Flowers(or Star) Freedom" or "Love (of) Freedom"?
First off, he never said she was Kenyan. The series bible says she was "born in the United States of Africa." The Making of Star Trek
says she's "a citizen of the Bantu Nation of United Africa." It was the novels The Starless World
and Uhura's Song
that proposed Nairobi as her birthplace, or perhaps drew on something from fandom.
Second, I don't see how "Star of Freedom" is a bad name in the context of Star Trek
. A star, figuratively, is a guiding light, an inspiration. What's more appropriate to Star Trek
than using "star" to represent inspiration and hope? For that matter, "Flower of Freedom" works great too. "Flower" is the root of the word "flourish," and the growth and flourishing of freedom is hardly a negative image. The word "flower" can also mean the best or finest example of a group, like "the flower of our nation's youth." Really, these are great names symbolically. Sure, love of freedom is nice, but a bright light inspiring freedom, one who causes freedom to flourish, and the finest exemplar of freedom, all rolled into one -- isn't that even better?
Third, remember, Roddenberry was no linguist. He made up the name "Uhura" by taking the Swahili word uhuru
and sticking a Latin feminine ending on it. If he was willing to give her an imaginary, linguistically chimerical surname like that, I really don't think he would've been as picky about her first name as you are.