The CFA franc was introduced in 1945. The letter “K appearing twice on the front of our banknote is the distinguishing mark that identifies Senegal as the country of origin. The other countries sharing the CFA franc, with their identifying marks are: Côte d’Ivoire / Ivory Coast “A”; Benin “B”; Burkina Faso “C”; Mali “D”; Niger “H”; Togo “T” and Guinea-Bissau “S”. Senegal, as stated, has “K” as the identifying mark.1
The back of our banknote features canoes, men, and, the river. It is thought by many that the origin of the word “Senegal” is an early word in a local dialect meaning “our canoe”. This meaning, although disputed by some technicians, has nevertheless become popular today, being used commonly in phrases with meanings to the effect: “we are all in the same canoe.“2
French West Africa was a federation of 8 states existing from 1895 until 1960.3
Senegal’s Capt-Vert projects its triangular point 4 directly into the Atlantic Ocean, the westernmost point of the grand collective landmass termed Afro-Eurasia.5 Also known as Cape Verde, it is roughly equidistant between the mouths of two great rivers, the Senegal and the Gambia, about 100 kilometers from each. These became the early colonial outposts of the Europeans.
Middle 1400s Portuguese explorers, decades before the voyage of Columbus, reached the Senegal first (being the northernmost river of the two and closer to Portugal), rounded Cape Verde and explored the Gambia second (map image6 right). Two hundred years later, the French and the British, emerging from their own borders with global ambition, established trading posts, and then settlements, and, eventually, forts in the region, the French at the Senegal River and Cape Verde area, and the British at the Gambia river. In the wars of the 17th and 18th centuries between the French and the British, these West African settlements changed hands again and again. But by the time of the late 19th century “scramble for Africa”, the French found themselves in the better position.
The British found themselves occupying a relatively thin strip from the ocean, inland along the banks of the Gambia River. France occupied the regions along the Senegal River, the region of Cape Verde, and the land completely surrounding the British on both banks of the Gambia and inland. These boundaries remain unto this day; and that’s why the map looks the way it does.7
Senegal celebrates its Independence Day on April 4th. On April 4, 1959, Senegal joined with French Sudan to form the Mali Federation, which became independent from France the following year, April 4, 1960 with the signing of a Transfer of Power Agreement. Due to internal political differences, that federation swiftly dissolved and the two nations declared separate independences in August of the same year. Senegal retained its name Senegal, and the former French Sudan adopted the name Mali. Mali celebrates its Independence Day September 22, that date in 1960 being the day it emerged independent from the Mali Federation.