Coffee in Rwanda has been a significant industry both before and after the infamous 1990s. Coffee crops were encouraged by Germany during their colonial period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rwanda came under Belgian colonial influence following WWI and coffee growing was systematized. Coffee has continued as a prime industry for Rwandans since their 1961 independence and is a key part of their economic rejuvenation in the 21st century.
The banknote above illustrates the coffee plant, a family working the coffee fields in one of the numerous small plantations in this “land of a thousand hills”, and a woman carrying the harvested coffee.
The back of the currency is an illustration from the Rwandan countryside. Banana trees are shown on the left and lake Kivu and hills are shown on the right.
Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes, covers approximately 1000 square miles.
Watutsi warriors are illustrated on the front of the 1000 franc banknote.
The Coat of arms from independence until the 21st century is on the bottom left. “Republique Rwandaise – Liberte’ – Cooperation – Progress”.
The Coat of arms was restyled in 2001, after the genocide of the 1990s.
The Watutsi, also known as Tutsi, were victimized by the Hutus in the genocide of 1994, but the hostilities went both ways for decades, whereas the animosity was ultimately but a century old. The Germans appear to have developed the so-called racial distinction between the Tutsi and the Hutu during their brief colonial enterprise, favoring the minority Tutsi for administrative positions. The distinction appears to have been only a hypothesis as no archaeological, historical nor even linguistic distinctions have been discovered since to support the distinction. The Belgians relied upon existing the Tutsi administrating structure as they commenced their colonial administration following WWI. Their rule reinforced the ethnic divide. In 1931, during the time of the eugenics movement in Europe and the United States, an ethnic identity card was issued for each Rwandan.
Eastern Gorillas and canoes on lake Kivu are illustrated on the reverse of this 1988 1000 franc Rwandan banknote.