The First and Last President of Zanzibar, Abeid Amani Karume

Graduates are featured on this side of our banknote. The building behind them is Nkrumah Hall at the University of Dar es Salaam. 
Abeid Amani Karume (1905-1972), the first President of Zanzibar, is depicted on this side of our banknote.

Zanzibar was subsumed into Tanzania.

Abeid Amani Karume (4 August 1905[1] – 7 April 1972) was the first President of Zanzibar. He obtained this title as a result of a revolution which led to the deposing of His MajestySir Jamshid bin Abdullah, the last reigning Sultan of Zanzibar, in January 1964. Three months later, the United Republic of Tanzania was founded, and Karume became the first Vice President of the United Republic with Julius Nyerere of Tanganyika as president of the new country. He was the father of Zanzibar’s former president – Amani Abeid Karume.

Zanzibar united with Tanganyika in 1964 to form Tanzania.

The Zanzibar Revolution brought an end to about 500 years of Arab domination on the island during which the Arab Slave Trade, most significantly, had resulted in a strong resentment among the majority African population.

Karume was assassinated in April 1972 in Zanzibar Town. Four gunmen shot him dead as he played bao at the headquarters of the Afro-Shirazi Party. Some people celebrated his death[citation needed], as different parts of the country did not like the self-proclaimed president who was never a person from Zanzibar by origin. It is believed he came from Malawi. Reprisals followed against people suspected to have been opposed to Karume’s regime.[7]Amani Abeid Karume, Abeid’s son, was elected two times as the president of Zanzibar, in 2000 and 2005 by a popular majority and handed over power in late 2010 to his successor Ali Mohamed Shein.

Karume’s second important political move came when he agreed to form a union with the Tanganyikan president Julius Nyerere in April 1964. The union ensured that the new country, to be called Tanzania, would not align itself with the Soviet Union and communist bloc, as A.M. Babu had advocated. Given the new legitimacy of Karume’s government (now solidly backed up by mainland Tanganyika), Karume marginalized Babu to the point of irrelevance. The Marxist leader was eventually forced to flee Tanzania after being charged with masterminding the assassination of Karume in 1972.[5] As a result, Karume was rewarded the post of First Vice-President.[6]

Having taken control of the island, John Okello invited Abeid Karume back to the island to assume the title of President of the People’s Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba. Other Zanzibaris in foreign territory were also invited back, most notably the Marxist politician Abdulrahman Mohammad Babu, who was appointed to the Revolutionary Council. John Okello reserved for himself the title of “Field Marshal”, a position with undefined power. What followed was a three-month-long internal struggle for power.[4]

Karume used his political skills to align the leaders of neighboring African countries against Okello and invited Tanganyikan police officers into Zanzibar to maintain order. As soon as Okello took a trip out of the country, Karume declared him an “enemy of the state” and did not allow him to return. Given the presence of Tanganyikan police and the absence of their leader, Okello’s gangs of followers did not offer any resistance.

On 10 December 1963, the United Kingdom granted full independence to Zanzibar after the Zanzibar National Party(ZNP) and Zanzibar and Pemba People’s Party won the elections. The Sultan was a constitutional monarch.[2] Initial elections gave government control to the ZNP. Karume was willing to work within the electoral framework of the new government, and actually informed a British police officer of the revolutionary plot set to take place in January.[3]

Karume was not in Zanzibar on 12 January 1964 – the night of the revolution – and was instead on the African mainland. The instigator of the rebellion was a previously unknown Ugandan, John Okello. The revolution was violent, short, and the revolutionaries prevailed. Thousands of Zanzibaris, mostly Zanzibari Arabs & Indians, were murdered, with relatively few casualties on the revolutionary side. The Zanzibar Revolution brought an end to about 500 years of Arab domination on the island during which the Arab Slave Trade, most significantly, had resulted in a strong resentment among the majority African population.

Lesotho – The Three Kings

Three Kings are featured on the front of out banknote. On our right, wearing the hat, is the first king, King Moshoeshoe. On our left, wearing glasses, is King Moshoeshoe II (Constantine Bereng Seeiso) (1938-1996). In the center is the present King of Lesotho,King Letsie III (born David Mohato
Bereng Seeiso; 17 July 1963). 

The First King…

King Moshoeshoe I, was born in 1780 the eldest son of a chief of a regional clan known as the Basotho people.1 Renowned for bravery, as a young man he organized a raid on a rival, the Ramonaheng, and took posession of their herds of cattle. As customary among his people, he composed a poem depicting his exploits in which he declared that he had “shaved the beards” of the rival Ramonaheng; the action of shaving a beard making a sound resembling the sound of the spoken words “shoe” …. “shoe”, he became affectionately know as Moshoeshoe, “the shaver”.

Moshoeshoe and his followers established their village and began to grow in the early 19th century coincident with the nearby rise of Shakra and the Zulu kingdom. Military pressure from the nearby and growing Zulu, forced Moshoeshoe to relocate his people to the Qiloane plateau (elevation 2 km) which proved to be an impregnable stronghold for the people. It was later named Thaba Bosiu or “mountain at night” because it was believed “to grow during the night and shrink during day”,2 enhancing its defensive qualities. The era was to become known as “the time of troubles”3due to incessant conflicts. But Moshoeshoe took care of his people and prospered.

In addition to bravery, Moshoeshoe became renowned for diplomacy. During the time of troubles, his influence grew as he extended friendship to defeated enemies, providing them with land and protection. In later years, in the era that would come to be the Boer Wars, Moshoeshoe negotiated a treaty for protection of his people under Great Britain. With his death in 1870, the colonial era is considered to have begun. However the status of Lesotho was that of British protectorate, as negotiated by King Moshoeshoe I, rather than that of many other colonies, a forced annexation. Moshoeshoe’s people would continue on.

The Kingdom of Lesotho…

In 1966, the Kingdom of Lesotho came into existence with independence from Great Britain. The ruling party, upon losing in the first post-independence election, refused to cede power to the election winners, and imprisoned its political opponents. A struggle continued until 1986, twenty years following independence, when a military coup d’etat pushed the usurpers out of power and brought in Constantine Bereng Seeiso, who took the name King Moshoeshoe II. When he sought to strengthen executive power through amending the constitution, he was forced into exile and his son was installed as King Letsie III. King Moshoeshoe II was reinstated as king in 1995, but briefly, dying in an accident in 1996. His son, King Letsie III was brought as king and so continues to this day.

And King Meshoeshoe’s people continue, to this day.

Guinea-Bissau, Domingos Ramos

Domingos Ramos, a commander in the conflict against European Portugal for the independence of Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau), is featured on our banknote.

Ivory Coast – Queen Pokou’s Remarkable Story

Western Africa CFA franc

The capital letter “A” adjacent to the serial number, above, is the indicator that this banknote is for the Ivory Coast, officially the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. The West African CFA franc is the currency for eight west African states, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Each is distinguished by a single letter adjacent to the serial number.

The banknote features a symbol of the Ashanti people. It is a bronze, sawfish – shaped, weight utilized by the people for measuring out gold. Beside and behind aresymbols of science, medicine and educations.

Western Africa CFA franc

The Ashanti people, also spelled Asante, dwell in south-central Ghana and Togo and Côte d’Ivoire. A former Asante state1 had for its capital Kumasi, a city currently in Ghana, the neighbor of the Ivory Coast. The Asante empire arose in the 17th century where several tribes united under King Kumasi. 2 In the 18th century, some of the tribe moved to the Ivory Coast under the leadership of Princess Pokou. She established the Akan tribe in the Ivory Coast which is prominent to this day.3.

In the 18th century, one tribe decided to depart from the main Asante tribe that had been brought together under the reign of king Kumasai in Ghana in the 17th century. A story is told that an endeavor to further consolidate power among the already united tribes, was a catalyst for one tribe to break off and depart. The dispute over power erupted into a war; and a portion of the people broke away and fled westward toward Ivory Coast in search of new land. The breakaways departed under the leadership of Princess Pokou.

Pokou had been born into royalty as Princess Ewurabena Pokou early in the 18th century. She was a niece of a co-founder of the Ashanti empire. She was given the name abena, the name traditionally given to a girl born on a Tuesday, as signifies that she will grow to be a bold independent and powerful woman. And so it was. She was accompanied by many people, together with her priest.

Pursued by the Asante warriors, they continued westward until their progress was blocked by a river full of agitated crocodiles. Pressed by warriors behind and blocked by crocodiles ahead, the Princess sought guidance from her priest, who informed her that, to pass unmolested, she must sacrifice the thing most dear to her in life. Weeping, she cast her son into the river and the hippopotami arose holding back the crocodiles. A pathway opened, and the Queen and her tribe passed through unmolested. Then the hippopatami submerged, the crocodiles returned, and the pursuing warriors reached the river’s edge. Seeing that they could not cross, the warriors abandoned the pursuit, and the new tribe was safe in their new land.4 On the far bank of the river, the distraught Queen could only utter one word, “baouli”, which means the child is dead, and so the tribe has been known ever since.

“A powerful kingdom called Bhaooree, which has hitherto successfully resisted the Ashantees, was described to be westward,”5 so records the journal of British historian in 1817. The Baoule6 continued to grow and propser, and, today, is one of the greatest in the Ivory Coast to this day. The first president of Ivory Coast was drawn from their ranks. Their farms are among the most prosperous and industrious. The Baoule are renowned for their arts.

By many accounts Queen Pokou ruled her people with wisdom and grace, renowned for he abilities in resolving the disputes common among any peoples, and guiding her people into peace and prosperity.

Republic of the Congo

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The flag and the coat of arms of the Republic of the Congo are shown above.

the colonial era …

French Equatorial Africa was organized and included, French Congo which by then was known as Middle Congo. Brazzaville was designated as the federal capital.

since independence …

Independence from France as gained 15 August 1960.


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The flag and Coat of Arms of Gabon are shown above.

Gabon is located on the equator and on the Atlantic coast of Africa.

The pygmy peoples inhabited the region known as Gabon and Congo. The term is not well-received these days, being considered pejorative, but, as noted in Wikipedia, there is no know substitute at this time.

The colonial era…

France ‘s official presence commenced in 1885 and continued until Independence in 1960. In 1885 boundaries were defined between the nearby German colonies and Spanish colonies. In 1910, Gabon was joined with Chad and Congo and Central African Republic, to become French Equatorial Africa.

Gabon was Vichy French in the early days of WW2. November 12, 1940, they surrendered to the free French and became an important base for the duration of the war.

since Independence …

Following independence, Gabon favored French culture and language and maintained close ties.

The first president, Leon M’ba, had backing from strong interests in France, including Charles De Gaulle, who sent troops to restore M’ba to power in the face of an attempted coup d’etat. De Gaulle’s intervention made a path for Bongo’s to rise to power following M’ba’s death in 1967.

Bongo established a single party rule in 1968. and continued as the prime political leader until his death in 2009. His son, Ali Bongo, succeeded him in 2009 and is presindent until the day of this writing in 2019.


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The flag of Benin and the coat of arms are illustrated above.


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The flag and coat of arms of Cameroon are shown above.

Sometimes counted as part of central Africa, and sometimes counted more as a western Africa country, Cameroon is a kind of crossroads country. Some have called it an Africa in miniature in view of the so many aspects of the larger continent combined in this single country. 250 native languages are spoken among 20 million people1, but English and French are the official languages of the land.2

Colonial Era…

Germany endeavored to colonize Cameroon following the Berlin conference. Its success was hindered substantially by resistance from the inhabitants of the land. With the defeat of Germany in WW1, the German claims to the Cameroon territory were divided between France and Great Britain. French Cameroon was incorporated into French Equatorial Africa, British Cameroon remained separate.


French Cameroon gained independence in 1960 followed by British Cameroon in 1961. Shortly thereafter, they combined as the Federal Republic of Cameroon. On May 20, 1971, the federal system was abolished in favor of the United Republic of Cameroon.

Central African Republic

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The flag of the Central African Republic and the coat of arms are featured above.

This landlocked region has been inhabited for thousands of years. Its present boundaries, however, were established by France in the colonial era. As of this writing in 2019, the region has been in civil war since 2012.

European Colonial Era …

The European colonization was neither consistent nor steady, but rather lurched about between languages and philosophies and requirements.

Ubangi-Shari was the name given to this region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Ubangi and the Shari are two major rivers running through the land along which early colonies were founded. Europeans arrived in this inland region during the Scramble for Africa.1 Germans and Belgians competed for territory in the same region. A 1911 treaty between France and Germany seceded a portion to Germany while Germany seceded a portion of Chad to France. Following WW1, France gained control again. France then modeled policies after those of King Leopold which would cause havoc in Rwanda years later.

The Kongo-wara rebellion, the war of the hoe handle, broke out in 1928 and continued for several years. t was a local rebellion against the French administration and their heavy handed methods, The rebellion was concealed by the authroities from the French populace as it was contrary to the narrative of the happy colnials under French administration.

In September 1940, the region was taken over by free French. Folllowing WW2, in 1946, the first representative in French government for the Central African Republic was elected, Barthélemy Boganda. He became disillusioned with French politics and returned to the Central African Republic and founded MESAN, Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa, which became the dominant political party in the early years of independence.

Era since Independence …

Independence from France was gained in 1960.

Autocratic rulers have dominated politics from independence into the 21st century.


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The flag and emblem of Ethiopia are shown above.

For individual banknotes of Ethiopia, select the images above.


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The flag and Coat of Arms of Chad is featured above.

Chad is desert. Lying in the heart of that portion of Africa that is above the equator, a thousand kilometers from the sea, it is dry.

Colonial Era …

Chad was a part of the French colonial empire from 1900 until independence in 1960.

French Equatorial Africa …

Chad was combined with regions that today are known as the Central African Republic, Gabon, Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo, to form what was then known as French Equatorial Africa. Today there are 5 countries coming from the conglomerate; then there were four territories that were combined:  French Gabon, French Congo, Oubangui-Chari and French Chad. French Cameroon was joined following WW1.

Mauritania – ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata

Cow in front of ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti,
Tichitt and Oualata
Ardin harp

Ksour (plural) or Ksar (singular) is a North African Arabic terms meaning signifying a castle or a village. Often they included withing a single surrounding fortified wall houses and granaries, shops, baths and mosques. They became the seeds of flourishing communities and centers of Islamic development in the region.

There were four such ksour in Mauritania and they are remembered on this banknote. They are Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata. These have now been designated UNESCO world heritage sites.


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The flag and coat of arms of Tanzania are shown above.

Tanzania, the name, is a compound formed the the words Tanganyica and Zanzibar, the two progenitor states which, united, formed present day Tanzania.

For specific stories, select the banknote images below. For general history, read further below.

Zanzibar …

The region was dominated from the Arabian peninsula in the 18th and early 19th centuries, until the Europeans took over in the late 19th century. Oman powerfully competed with other empires in the Indian ocean region from the late 1600s through the late 1800s. In 1698 Oman defeated the Portuguese at Fort Jesus, in Mombasa,1 and thereafter drove them from Zanzibar. By 1700 Oman had established a fort on the island of Zanzibar at Zanzibar City. The island of Zanzibar and much of the nearby mainland coastal regions was claimed by Oman by 1786. In 1840, Oman made Zanzibar city the capital of the empire.2During this time, Zanzibar became the centre for the Arab slave trade.

Tanganyika …

Following the Berlin Conference of 1884 and 1885, Germany aggressively joined other European states in the colonization “game”. The Scramble for Africa was on. Germany and Britain, in an agreement unknown to Oman at the time,3 had divided up the central Eastern African seaboard, giving the region roughly now known as Kenya to Great Britain, and the region roughly now known as Tanganyica and Rwanda and Burundi to Germany. The sultan of Oman, residing in Zanzibar and having laid claim to the coastal region of Tanganyica, objected to this claim of African territory by Germany. Otto von Bismark, the Chancellor of Germany, ordered 5 warships to Zanzibar City, which, upon arrival, on August 7 1885, trained their guns on the Sultans palace.4 The Sultan acquiesced. In 1890, Germany and Britain agreed that Zanzibar would be a protectorate of Great Britain.

Zanzibar …

Great Britain’s involvement with Zanzibar had been growing thoughout the 1800s. Zanzibar had become the center of the slave trade in the region, and Great Britain had had a change of heart and become opposed to the practice. In 1822, Great Britain began to place pressure upon the Sultan to bring an end to the trade. A series of treaties ensued which further restricted the trade. The protectorate established in 1890 included a provision that Great Britain would have the right of approval of a new ruler upon the Sultan’s death. The Sultan died on August 25, 1896, and this provision was violated on August 26, and what has become known as The Shortest War in History, The Anglo-Zanzibar War, began.

It all happened on a Thursday morning, from 9:02 am until 9:40 am, that war commenced and concluded between Zanzibar and Great Britain. It was August 27, 1896, and has been called the “shortest recorded war in history.”5

Tanganyika …

With the defeat of Germany in WW1, the colonial dispositions changed. In 1919, the Paris Peace Conference Supreme Council ceded all of East German Africa to Britain; over the strenuous objection of Belgium. Belgium and Great Britain negotiated a side agreement, and on January 10, 1920. Rwanda and Burundi became Belgian colonies, and the largest portion of East German Africa became a British colony under the name Tanganyika. And so, the territorial stage was set for present day Tanzania.

Tanzania …

Tanganyika became independent from Great Britain December 9, 1961. Zanzibar, having been a protectorate, not a colony, of Britain, was not granted independence, in that same sense as Tanganyika. But the British protectorate of Zanzibar was declared ended December 10, 1963. Following a tumultuous first few months, Zanzibar merged with Tanganyika April 26, 1964. The new united country was named the United Republic of Tanzania October 29, 1964. “On April 26, 1964, The Father of Nation Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and the First Zanzibar’s President Abeid Arnan Karume united Tanganyika and Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania. The Union was supported by what came to be known as the Articles of Union. Here is the original document of the articles as agreed by the founders of the two nations.”…6.


The flag and emblem of Somaliland are reproduced above.


The flag and coat of arms of Lesotho are shown above.

Known as Basutoland, established as a British crown colony in 1884. Called the Kingdom of Lesotho upon its independence from Great Britain in 1966, October 4.

Guinea Bissau

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The flag and coat of arms of Guinea Bissau are shown above.

The region experienced European visitations as early as the mid 15th century.1 2

Egypt 50 piastres

Egypt 50 piastres front
Egypt 50 piastres back

Ramses II is depicted on the front of out banknote. The Al-Azhar Mosque is featured on the other side.


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Egypt, whose very name appears a cipher, a hieroglyph, who can but feel humble before Thee! Foremost among the Five that complete the African Mediterranean States, You are the oldest; You, must be preeminent in any reckoning. Pyramids that puzzle eminent thinkers to this day, so simple in their structure. Sphinx gazing eternal at Leo’s horizon, stupidly marred by the mechanical troops of Napoleon, but a pretender to thy glory, O Egypt.

Select images above for banknotes of Egypt.

Egypt is ancient, breathtakingly ancient.

Egypt has been invaded and conquered many times, say our encyclopedias. The elders smile, the old men sigh, and the Sphinx remains, poised, unmoved, resting, waiting. The pyramids point, mark, remind, as the simplest of mathematical constructs. Egypt has never been conquered.

From the Crisis over the Suez (1882) to the Suez Crisis (1956) – Colonialism through the 20th century Great War…

The Suez canal had opened in 18691, with great international fanfare, just six months after the completion of the Trans Continental Railroad.2 The combined openings dramatically adjusted costs of trade and brought the world closer. Just 4 years later Jules Verne published Around the World in 80 Days in which his protagonist, Phileas Fogg, made use of these dramatic advances to accomplish his record journey. The Suez Canal soon assumed the world-wide strategic significance as we know it today.

Unsurprisingly, the cost to complete the canal was double the cost estimated. The subsequent indebted Egyptian ruler sold Egypt’s shares, 44% of the total of the Suez Canal Company, to Great Britain which had opposed the project during construction.3

The cost of the Suez increased the debt burden upon the already distressed Egyptian economy. Soon, Egypt sold its 44% share to Great Britain, and in addition to other measures, increased taxes upon the people. To protect their interests, France and now Great Britain too, increasingly meddled in Egyptian affairs. In those days, a colonel in the army named Urabi, rose up and led a nationalist revolt4 seeking to curb the European influence, especially of France and Great Britain.

Great Britain invaded Egypt, and defeated Urabi at Tel el-Kebir September 13, 1882. The intervention was ostensibly at the invitation of the Egyptian ruler, but certainly also to secure its own interests, as well as prevent default on the British loan for shares in the Suez canal. The British presence, ostensibly for just a short while, extended until finally expelled by Egypt in 1956, almost a hundred years later, the decade following WW2.

Britain remained in Egypt from that event in 1882 through the start of WW1, in what has come to be known as the veiled protectorate, “veiled” because there was no legal basis for it, “protectorate” because that was the official term applied to the continuing British military presence following the outbreak of WW1. With the entrance of the Ottoman Empire into WW1 on the side of the Central Powers, Britain unilaterally declared the protectorate of Egypt and compelled Egypt to declare itself independent of the Ottomans. Just a few years after the close of the war, Egypt unilaterally declared itself independent of Britain. Nevertheless, Britain’s military remained, a situation not “normalized” until a 1936 treaty granting that permission to Britain, in order to provide security for its primary link to its great colony, India. 1953 was the year the decolonization wave finally broke for Egypt, and the revolution cast out the British “advisers”, in that mighty tide of colonial revulsion following the close of the Great War of the 20th Century, divided by some into WW1 and WW2. It could not have been stopped, but the British managed to make it seem preventable. Rather than leaving it as an incontestable surrender to the supremacy of the goddesses of fate, they managed to make it look like a bungled administrative bureaucratic mistake. Well, it was that, but it was also the other; and so the history stands.5 6

From Independence to the Arab Spring…

Independence as the Republic of Egypt was declared June 18, 1953 with General Muhammad Naguib as President; but he was forced to resign the following year by General Abdel Nasser, generally acknowledged as the true leader of the independence movement. Nasser assumed power June 1956, the British completed their withdrawal from the canal zone and Nasser raised the Egyptian flag over the zone June 18, 1956. A few weeks later in July, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, and the Suez Crises ensued.

Nasser ruled in Egypt until his death in 1970. His era is remembered among Egyptians as a time of increasing prosperity, growing standards of living, and the flourishing of culture and the arts.

Anwar Sadat walked onto the world stage in 1970 as the 3rd president of Egypt following the death of Abdel Nasser; and ruled Egypt from 1970 until his assassination in 1981. Sadat was a key man in the 1952 revolution and a key confidante of Nasser and his vice-president twice. He grew into a giant of a man, both renowned and reviled, but enshrined with a Nobel Peace Prize for his bold endeavors for world peace. His kind is missed.

Hosni Mubarek held onto power from 1981 for thirty years, until his people refused it to him any longer in the Arab Spring, 2011.


Libya 1 dinar (2004)

Muammar Gaddafi is featured on the front of this banknote. Gadaffi was 27 years old when he led a bloodless coup d’etat, abolished the monarchy, and established the Libyan Arab Republic in 1969.

Libya 1 dinar (2004)

The Mawlai Mosque in Tripoli is featured on the back of this banknote.

Muammar Gaddafi was oriented nationally towards socialism and internationally towards Pan-Africanism. He had the good fortune of coming to power at the beginning of Libya’s surging oil-based wealth, and the passing of the the international leader of the pan-African movement, his next-door neighbor, the King of Algeria.

Cape Verde

Cape Verde 2000 escudos front 2015
Cape Verde 200 escudos back 2015

Algeria 200 Dinars 1992

Algeria 200 Dinars front 1992
Algeria 200 dinars back (1992)

The great Mosque of Algiers is depicted on this banknote above. The mosque was built in 1018, the minaret in 1322, and the whole modernized since then.

Algeria 100 dinars 1992

Algeria 100 Dinars front 1992 

The sea going galley was primarily powered by oars which can bee seen in the water mid-ship. Sails were available and used in favorable winds.

Algeria 100 Dinars back 1992

The Algerian victory over the invading Spanish in the 1775 Battle of El Harrach is commemorated in this banknote.

Also known as the Algiers Expedition of 1775, The Spanish Empire had expended considerable resources preparing for the seizure of Algiers. The intent was to teach to Ottoman rulers that the Spanish Empire would not be intimidated and would not back down. The Spaniards had the year before successfully resisted a British backed Ottoman siege in Morocco.

The Spanish expedition was huge. 300 ships, consisting of about 70 warships and 230 transport ships, carried 22,000 men and considerable war material to the shores of Algiers. But the Algerians were ready. Having been informed by spies of the impending campaign, the developed their plan.

The Spaniards poorly selected a landing ground full of dunes. Shortly after disembarkation they found their cannon mired in the sand. Light Algerian resistance soon fled the scene however, and the Spaniards completed their disembarking. The Algerian flight was a ruse, Once the Spanish army was free of their ships, an experienced Algerian army charged toe Spaniard, including a camel charge of experienced desert warrior tribesman and the Spaniards were completely overwhelmed. They fled to their ships leaving behind 3,000 dead and many weapons of war. The Algerian losses were 300.


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Ghana….her flag and coat of arms are illustrated above.

The prime meridian passes through Ghana, and only 7 other countries 1 in the world. The equator lies just 4 degrees south of Ghana, far nearer than any of those other 7 states, making Ghana nearer to that notional global center2 of the world than any other country.

For stories from Ghana, select any of the banknote icons above.

The prime meridian has a somewhat interesting history, and is a marker of the scientific progress of nations, not dissimilar from the monolith on the moon documented3 in 2001 A Space Odyssey; a first place medal we might say, in a specific, albeit antiquated, race. But, finally, it is entirely arbitrary. The equator, however, was established by God.4.

Ghana was formerly known as the Gold Coast. The name hearkens back to the colonial era when European nations were racing to capture resources for growth world wide. And the gold of that land is good.


Ghana 2 cedis front 1979
Ghana 2 cedis back 1979


Ghana 1 cedi front 1979
Ghana 1 cedi back 1979


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The flag above represented the Kingdom of Libya from Independence in 1951 until the 19969 coup d’etat that brought Muammar al-Gaddafi to power. Upon the demise of Gaddafi in 2011, this same flag was restored to represent the Republic of Libya.

The images above are from banknotes of our country. Select an image for its story.

The land is old, truly old. In olden days, the world was considered as eruba, the land upon which the sun sets, Europe, asusa, the land upon which the sun rises, Asia, and, libya. Libya was the vast unknown territory south of the Great Sea, around which was civilization.1

Tripoli is the capital city and figures prominently in history.2

Roman Libya…

Islamic Libya…

Ottoman Libya…

The European colonial era…

The European colonial era for Libya extended from 1910 when Italy invaded and commenced its territorial claims, through WW2 during which Britain and France assumed administration, until 1952 when Libya became independent.

The war between Italy and the Ottoman Empire,3 from 1911 to 1912, resulted in Italy’s capture of the provinces that would become known as Italian Libya.4

Libyan infrastructure advanced considerably under Italian rule, particularly in the 1930s, until it was interrupted by war.

From after the Great War to the Arab Spring …

Following the Great War of the 20th century, that which spanned from 1914 to 1945, the recently formed United Nations, the UN, the present manifestation of Woodrow Wilson’s dream of a League of Nations, declared that Libya should be, and shall be, an independent state, prior to January 1, 1952. A constitution was created establishing a federal system with separate parliaments for each of three main constituting regions, British administrated Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, and, French administrated Fezzan. A King was chosen by national assembly in 1950, King Idris I. And so it was that on December 24, 1951, Libya declared its independence; and it was not significantly contested.

Oil exploration and development advanced rapidly under the King’s rule; and Libya’s wealth advanced commensurately.

A small group led by 27 year old Muammar Gaddafi staged a coup d’etat on September 1, 1969, abolished the monarchy and established the Libyan Arab Republic. Gaddafi was an advocate of Pan-Africanism.5 6 7 When neighboring leader, president of Algeria Kwame Nkrumah a leader in the pan-african movement, passed away in 1972, Gaddafi became the most prominent and outspoken leader of the movement, calling for a United States of Africa. In 2008, surrounded by 200 leaders in Africa, Gaddafi was proclaimed King of Kings8in 2008, and died in the uprisings associated with the Arab Spring in 2011.

Since the Arab Spring…

Tunisia – Ibn Khaldun

Ibn Khladun,1 a brilliant mind that surveyed the world’s histories and tendencies and organized them in a system of thinking2 that influenced all those that have followed after. Born in Tunisia, he is brought before us on this banknote from that same country.

Tunisia 10 dinars front dated 1994
Tunisia 10 dinars front 1994

Selected somewhat randomly3 by me, from among his numerous contributions, is his theory on taxation.4 He argues for low taxation, such as the people are happy to pay, so as to maintain economic incentive. He observed that early dynasties receive large revenue from a relatively small tax percentage assessment whereas aging dynasties receive smaller revenue from increasingly larger percentage tax assessments; this illustrating the negative impact of taxation on productivity. He says governments expenditures should be wise and productive.

Tunisia 10 dinars back dated 1994
Tunisia 10 dinars back 1994

The date prominently featured on the back of our banknote is 600 years after Ibn Khuldun (1332-1406), thus, has nothing to do with his story. It is however, significant in Tunisia’s story. It is the date of the so called bloodless coup5 in Tunisia when El Abidine Ben Ali came to power, the same who fled his country into exile at the commencement of the Arab Spring in 2011. 6

Libya 1 dinar – Post 2011 Civil War

Images of peace and happiness adorn the front and back of this 2013 banknote of Libya. The banknote, the 1st new issue since the Gadaffi era, was issued February 17, 2013, the 2nd anniversary of the Libyan revolution.

Libya One dinar, back
Libya 1 dinar 2013 back
Libya 1 dinar 2013 front

The people’s jubilation is unmistakable. The flags the people are flying are the clue to the people’s celebration. The tricolor red black and green bearing the white star and crescent was the original flag of Libyan independence, and once again, after 42 years, was their flag, the flag of Libya, their country.

1951 – 1969 The flag of The Kingdom of Libya from 1951 independence until the 1969 coup d’etat that brought Gadaffi to power.

1969 – 1972 The flag of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 – 1972 under Gadaffi.

1972 – 1977 The flag of the Federation of Arab Republics 1972 – 1979 under Gadaffi.

1977 – 2011 Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya under Gadaffi.

1977 – 2011 Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya under Gadaffi (the flag has a revised aspect ratio)

2011 – present Libya after the Arab Spring.


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Morocco. On his right hand is the mediterranean and on his left is the atlantic. situated at the northwest corner of africaour country’s uunique positiin , if geography is destiny then moroccos unique posotioning amd unique culture lends support to the throry that geography is destiny. the known world on his right hand and the unknown workd on his left and the pillars of hercules, the ancient remains of the eworlds of the gods in his lap.

Might this not be the most exotic place on earth? Situated on the northwest corner of Africa, Morocco bears the southern half of the pillars of Hercules, the edge of the known world the portal to the vast unknown. The northern is Gibraltar. On her right hand, she watched as the nations of old ebbed and flowed in the great Sea, the Mediterranean. To her left lay infinite, the edge of the world, Atlantis. It is no wonder that Morocco has produced such a unique ad beautiful culture. and then more added

although so close to Europe and washed by the Mediterranean,

Casablanca, Marrakesh, the place the sun sets, the west. Is this the most romantic place in the world? the most exotic on earth? Northward it gazes upon the pillars of hercules1, Gibraltar beyond and its own northernmost prominitory. easteward it ponders placidly the Mediterranean, the cradle of western covilization, westward its showres are wave washed by the might atlantaic, an ocean incomprehensible to the mere mediterranean dwellers on its right hand. The pillars of Hercules to the ancients were the edge of the knwon world. to the right they contemplated the rich unfolding kaleidioscope of civilizations in the medieranea. to the left? there the would gaze in quietude and wonder on the infinite unknown. Platosaid that Atlantis was out there.

blue tiles buildings, yellow dunes, whitecapped oceans and mountains

The westmost land, westward from the middle west and the near west, the land where the sunsets, the sacred land, the land of God.. deriving its name form marrakesh, and the magrihb, the west.

distnat from rome and constantiople, though influences by these empires, morocco developed on its own, its own culture, its own cultural ties, its own government its own lifestyle.

different from other mediterranean dwellers, the earl morrocons watched the sun set evey day over an ocean, seemingly infinite. who can doubt that adventurers aroce amng them who dared that sea, wo went forth, mostly never returning, but some did, with tales. perhaps it was moroccon borne tales that Plato heard and recorded under the heading Atlantis.In the 16th century, Ottoman invaders from Algeria attempted to add Morocco to their empire, thus threatening the country’s independence. They, too, were thwarted, leaving Morocco virtually the only Arab country never to experience Ottoman rule. 2

By the late 17th century, Morocco’s cultural and political identity as an Islamic monarchy was firmly established.  3

Morocco’s isolationism in the era of European wars4

world wars era and early 21st century


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The city of Algiers, the eponym of our country Algeria, is a city of many names, many masters.1 It’s prominence has endured through a procession of empires due to its enviable situation as a seaport for eager traders. A recent writer observed that, with a little encouragement from its present overlords, Algiers would be the San Francisco of the Mediterranean.2

The city of Algiers is also known as Alger la Blanche, “Algiers the White”, for its renowned white buildings climbing up the steep slope of the Atlas Mountains from the seaport to the pinnacle. A 19th century illustration is reproduced below. Alger la Blanche, is of course, French, and the titling hearkens back to the era of French dominance from 1830 until independence in 1962.

Henry Parke / E. Clark [Public domain]
Like a lighthouse beckoning seafaring traders come, the white-washed buildings of Old City Algiers, ascend as a triangle, up the steep slope beyond its famous harboring islands.

“Algiers” means the islands, in Arabic. It is named for the four islands just off this east facing shore on the western edge of a large bay of the Mediterranean. From ancient times it has beckoned traders as an ideal natural harbor.3

“Algiers” is a shortened form of an earlier name signifying the Islands of the sons of Mazghana, recalling the influence of the noble Berber peoples in times past.

In the Greek era, the town was known as Icosium, meaning the twenty, and was explained as the town founded by twenty of the companions of Hercules. Hercules had visited the Atlas mountains during his celebrated Labors. during the celebrated Labors of Hercules. It’s easy to see why. Four islands just offshore on the western edge of the bay of alondro made for an beautiful natural harbor since the days of old. The town changed hands over the centuries many times as political dominions rose and fell. The natural harbor continued to be the attraction of empires

The name Algiers, the islands, in arabic was adopted in 1529 when Spaniards were expelled by the Ottomans. The Ottoman Turk corsair Barbarossa ruled the region largely autonomously from Constantinople; and, in time, turned Algiers into the chief base for the notorious Barbary Pirates, which continued for three hundred years.

Numerous attempts by multiple countries were made to dislodge the pirates. The fledgling United States of America paid tribute money to the Barbary Prirates for a time. The first war of that young country was against the same to end the practice. But it was the French who finally brought the age of the Barbary pirates to a close when they took Algiers in 1830.

European Colonial Algeria…

The city became the administrative center of the French colonial empires in North and Africa. In the dark days of WW2, Algiers served as the Allied forces headquarters in North Africa. In the darkest days, when Germany was occupying France, the city was the provisional capital of the French people.

Algiers is built on the slopes of the Sahel Hills, which parallel the Mediterranean Sea coast, and it extends for some 10 miles (16 km) along the Bay of Algiers. The city faces east and north and forms a large amphitheatre of dazzling white buildings that dominate the harbour and the bay. The city takes its name (Arabic: “The Islands”) from several small islands that formerly existed in the bay, all but one of which have been connected to the shore or obliterated by harbour works. Pop. (2008) 2,364,230; (2007 est.) urban agglom., 3,354,000. 4 One can imagine early sailors, as your sailing west and see four islands on the other side of the north opening by, that is the best harbor i the region. And so the trading posy grwa dn became known as the four islands.

Algiers is the capital. white buildings ascending steeply from the white capped shores in triangular fashion as a lightnouse, unintended homage to its ancient roots as a safe haven and vaulble enriching trading post amongst our forebeares.

ascending glistening white triangle as a beacon to voyagers

1962 is said to be the year that France declared Algeria to be independent, whatever that means.

The Arab Spring…

Algeria, while experiencing unrest, did not see the radical upheavals to its system of governance that occurred in numerous brethren Arab States.


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The name Tunisia is eponymous with its major city Tunis, as is its neighbor, Algeria, with Algiers. Tunis is said to be derived from the verb meaning to encamp, to rest, to lie down. And this is readily understandable to any journeyer who’s had this kind of conversation: Let’s aim for that mountain peak today. We’ll rest the night just shy of the ridge, or just over the ridge in the shade from the wind. We’ll encamp and lie down there, and get a fresh start in the morning. In plan view, in two dimensions at sea level, the conversation would be, we’ll aim for that point today and encamp on the lee side, out of the current and the wind. The ancients were expert astronomers, thoroughly conversant with latitudes, and it is unlikely that they did not understand this point was the northernmost point of Africa in the Great Sea. At the least, they understood it as a point, and appreciated it as a fine encampment.

Carthage grew up on this spot. Yes, that Carthage. The Carthage of legends, the Carthage of epic movies, the Carthage of Hannibal, the center of the Phoenician Empire. A mighty empire was managed for centuries from this campsite on the northern edge of the African continent. No doubt they needed a good right’s rest.

The Romans rose and fell, but not before they conquered Carthage, converted to Christianity, and Carthage had produced Tertullian and Augustine, whose writings altered the course of human thought and whose death dates plagued secondary school students in the after centuries.

The Battle of Carthage 698 AD marked the end of the Roman era as administrated from Constantinople. The Arabs were on the rise, took over the Mediterranean coasts and occupied Carthage, and the land converted to Islam.

From Independence to Revolution

The European colonial era officially closed for Tunisia on March 20, 1956 with independence from France. The following year, Tunisia became a republic, only the second in the modern Arab world, and elected as president, Habib Bourguiba, who continued in office for thirty years until he was removed from office in what was been described as a bloodless coup d’etat.1 His successor, El Abidine Ben Ali, became president November 7, 1987, and continued in office for twenty four years until fleeing the country in the Arab Spring.

The Arab Spring2 may be said to have begun in Tunisia. It was in Tunisia, December 17, 2010, where the street vendor poured gasoline over himself and set himself on fire.

Mohammed Bouazizi died January 4, 2011. Standing before a government building in the middle of the midday street, he emptied a canister of gasoline over his head and cried out, “Then how am I supposed to make a living?”, and then lit the match. He was the prime breadwinner for his widowed mother and six siblings. Twenty-six years old and out of a job, he was selling vegetables from a sidewalk cart. Authorities, that had harassed him previously, had that morning confiscated his cart and scale for failing to present a permit. He went to the government office to protest and beg to get the equipment of his livelihood returned, but no one would listen. Reports vary, but it is said that no permit was necessary and that harassment by authorities was frequent, verbal, and occasionally, physical. One can hear the desperation and anger in his voice as he yells at a faceless government building, “Then how am i supposed to make a living?” The match he lit ignited a fire across many nations as his deed gave expression to the economic dilemma they all felt; and in shared grief of this young man’s unnecessary death, the multitudes rose up as one, uniting in defiance of the inhumane authoritarianism of their various governments.

Like wildfire, in almost spontaneous combustion, protests in other nations erupted. January 14, 2011, ten days after Mohammed Bouazizi’s death, the President of Tunisia fled the country into exile. By the end of February, rulers in Egypt and Libya and Yemen had been forced from power. Essentially all of North Africa and the Arabian peninsula were engulfed in the conflagration. It’s been called “biggest transformation of the Middle East since decolonization.”3

closeup detail from swaziland 10 lilangeni banknote, year 2014 back


Swaziland 10 Lilangeni Banknote — Year 2014 — Face and Back
swaziland 10 lilangeni banknote, year 2014 back
swaziland 10 lilangeni banknote, year 2014 front
closeup of artwork on seychelles 10 rupees banknote front, featuring sea turtle


Seychelles 10 Rupees Banknote, Face and Back
seychelles 10 rupees banknote front, featuring sea turtle
seychelles 10 Rupees banknote back, featuring coat of arms
closeup detail from Namibia 10 Dollars 2015 banknote front (2)


Namibia 10 Dollar Banknote – Face and Back

Namibia $10 banknote front

Dr. Sam Nujoma is featured on our banknote of Namibia.

Namibia $10 banknote back, featuring springbok


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The Place where the King lives; 1 so means the name and so named is this country, the remnant of an empire as magnificent as its wealth was unimaginable. Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean two thousand miles inland, beyond Timbuktu, and encompassing the mighty Niger River bend, for four hundred years the Mali empire continued, the largest and richest in the history of West Africa.

Sundiata Keita, the Lion Prince2, the founder of the empire, was born a cripple, and therefore his life was spared. The king was suspicious of Sundiata’s father and had eleven of his sons, Sundiata’s brothers, put to death to prevent challenges to his rule. But the king did not fear a cripple, and so Sundiata was spared. Exiled, Sundiata began wearing iron leg braces at age 7, and, after long and painful effort, he became able to walk unaided in his mature years.

His countrymen prevailing upon him to return from exile and deliver his people, Sundiata returned, and, with talented generals and the secret aid of his sister3, overthrew the evil king, Symangurur, and founded the empire that would last four centuries and astonish the world with its accumulated wealth.

A hundred years later, Musa ascended the throne becoming known as Mansa Musa I4. While Islam had been introduced into the region for generation, Mansa Musa I became the first ruler of Mali to truly embrace the religion. In 1324 he embarked on his first, and what has become subsequently world renowned, pilgrimage to Mecca. As noted in the 2019 Smithsonian exhibition, Musa brought with him on his journey 8,000 courtiers, 12,000 slaves, and 100 camels each carrying 300 pounds of gold5 “The streets were littered with gold”, says Thad Morgan, writer for “This is the richest guy anyone has ever seen, that’s the point,” says Rudolph Ware, associate professor of history at the University of Michigan .7

Rwanda 5000 Franc 1988 banknote front (2), featuring coffee harvesters

Rwanda 1980’s Francs

Art of Rwanda 1000 & 5000 Francs Banknote, Year 1988 – Face and Back
Rwanda 5000 Francs Banknote, Year 1988, front, featuring women harvesting coffee
Rwanda (1988) 5000 francs, front

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.

Rwanda 5000 Francs Banknote, Year 1988, reverse, featuring banana trees and Lake Kivu
Rwanda (1988) 5000 francs, back

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.

closeup detail of Rwanda 5000 Francs Banknote, Year 1988, reverse, featuring Lake Kivu
detail from the back of Rwanda (1988) 5000 franc banknote

Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes, covers approximately 1000 square miles.

Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1988 front, featuring warriors
Rwanda (1988) 1000 francs banknote

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.

closeup detail of Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1988 front, featuring watutsi warriors
detail showing Watutsi warriors

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.

Click here for more stories from the African Great Lakes Region.

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Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 back, featuring gorillas
Rwanda 1000 francs (1988)

Eastern Gorillas and canoes on Lake Kivu are illustrated on the reverse of this 1988 1000 franc Rwandan banknote.

closeup detail of Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 back, featuring gorillas
detail showing Eastern Gorillas on back of Rwanda (1988) 1000 francs banknote
closeup detail of Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 front, featuring zebra
detail from Rwanda (1989) 100 francs banknote
Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 front, featuring running zebra
Rwanda (1989) 100 francs banknote
Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 back, featuring volcanoes Karisimbi and Bisoke, and mother with child
Rwanda (1989) 100 francs, front
Rwanda 1000 Francs 1988 banknote back featuring gorillas of Rwanda

Gorillas of Rwanda

Art of Rwanda 1000 Francs Banknote, Year 1988 – Face and Back
Rwanda 1000 Francs 1988 banknote back featuring gorillas of Rwanda

These wonderful creatures inhabit the volcano regions of Rwanda.  They are vegetarians and generally eat leafy green foliage and therefore prefer the dense mountain rainforests and subalpine forests of Rwanda.  The men are black furred and giant, weighing 350 to 450 pounds and standing 5’6” upright.  The women are half to 2/3s their size.  The old men grey noticeably with age until they are recognized as silverbacks.  The silverbacks lead stable and cohesive family groups held together by long time bonds between the men and women.  They are community oriented rather than territorial.  The men defend their women and children, and the silverbacks will defend their clan to the death if required.  Women bear children on average of once every three or four years and their time of pregnancy is about 8 1/2 months.  Newborns have pinkish grey skin and begin to crawl around nine weeks.  The children are weaned when they are about 3 ½ years old.      

closeup detail of Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 back, featuring volcanoes Karisimbi and Bisoke
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, detail from (1989) 100 franc Rwanda banknote

The clans are diurnal, foraging and traveling by day and sleeping by night, when they create nests usually on the ground by folding the dense vegetation over themselves.  Generally, they forage in the morning and the late afternoon, preserving a the midday for a time of rest.  This midday rest is a time for the building and reinforcement of relationships.  Mutual grooming reinforces their social affections and keeps their fur clean from parasites.  The children play, wrestling and running and somersaulting, and the silverbacks and women often join them.

They are normally gentle and quite shy.  Conflicts are generally resolved by intimidating displays and threatening behaviors that rarely lead to violence.  But when two clans meet, if the conflict is not resolved by threats, the silverbacks may fight to the death.

Click here for more stories from the African Great Lakes Region.

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Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 back, featuring gorillas
Rwanda 1000 francs (1988)
Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1988 front, featuring warriors
Rwanda (1988) 1000 francs banknote
Malawi 50 Kwacha 2017 banknote back featuring elephants of Malawi

Elephants of Malawi

50 Kwacha Banknote – Face and Back
Malawi 50 Kwacha Banknote back, featuring elephant and eco tourists
Malawi, 50 kwacha, back

Elephants, a tree, and a safari vehicle in Kasungu National Park decorate the back of this banknote.

Kasungu National Park extends along the Zambian border.  It averages 1000 meters in elevation and is covered with woodlands and bush and numerous grassy river channels running through it.  It provides home for elephants and hippos, antelope, impala, zebras and buffalo.  The illustration shows a safari vehicle in the foreground and an elephant nearby, but the perspective belies the true size of our beloved creatures. 

photo of elephant and safari vehicle
photo from internet

Try this photo. 

Our elephants can be 4 meters tall!

closeup detail of Malawi 50 Kwacha Banknote back, featuring 2 elephants
detail from back of Malawi 50 kwacha banknote

African elephants are very social beings.  Both the men and women have tusks.  The elephants illustrated in the 50 kwacha note are a mother and child.  Herds are led by a matriarch, usually the oldest woman and consist of their daughters, sisters and their children.  The boys remain with the herd through adolescence and then generally move on.  The men tend to be loners but will sometimes congregate in smaller bachelor pods.  Now for the tree.

If you look closely, the immensity of the tree trunk can be seen below baby’s neck and through mama’s legs.  Yes, this appears to be none other than the wonderful Baobab!  Please compare it to this photo from the field.

photo of baobab tree in Malawi
“Tolkein Tree”, Liwonde national Park, Malawi

This baobab tree resides in Liwonde national Park, Malawi, which is just 250 miles are so, as the creatures roam, from Kasungu national park.

The baobab is also known as the “Tree of Life”.

As to why this particular tree is called the “Tolkein Tree”, well, that is a tale for another post.

For more stories from the Southern Africa in this website, click here.

Zambia 50 Kwacha banknote back (2), featuring imafe of Zanco Mpundu Mutembo breaking his chains

Zambia – The Chain Breaking Man

Art of Zambia 50 Kwacha Banknote – Face and Back
Zambia 50 Kwacha banknote back
Zambia 50 Kwacha banknote back
closeup detail of Zambia 50 Kwacha Banknote, featuring  Zanco Mpundu Mutembo as “Chain Breaking Man”
detail from Zambia 50 kwacha banknote, reverse, “Chain Breaking Man”

Zanco Mpundu Mutembo was arrested and handcuffed with chains which he broke in the presence of 18 soldiers armed with guns.


Shockingly, he broke the chains in full view of soldiers and photographers who took shots of what seem like magical power.

He dropped out of school after his father’s death and joined the political struggle led by Robert Makasa and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe .

In 1957, having already made his impact in Northern Province, suffering imprisonment and beatings in the process, Mutembo, along with seven others were sent to Kenya where Dedan Kimathi was leading a rebellion against the colonial rulers. Their mission was to learn how to carry out their own rebellion back home.

Before Kaunda and others would speak, Mutembo would go on stage first to tell the crowds how bad the colonial government was hence the importance to fight for independence.

Early 1960s, Kaunda wrote a letter to the governor, Sir Arthur Benson, to protest against a clause in the constitution that gave Europeans an upper hand in the legislature. Mutembo took up the task to deliver the letter to Government House (now State House ).

On his way out, however, he was arrested and tortured. At about 15:00 hours that day, he was taken to Kaunda’s office in Chilenje where he was celebrated as a hero.

About 03:00 hours the following day, Mutembo was taken to Cairo Road where he climbed a tree with a megaphone to denounce the new constitution. At 06:00 hours, he started proclaiming his message, but was soon surrounded by police who threatened to shoot him if he did not get down. He was arrested.

Today, the tree still stands opposite the Main Post Office and later came to be known as “Zanco Tree “.

Mutembo appeared in court after having been involved in a political brawl in Matero . He had been badly beaten in the fight and lost two of his front teeth, a mark he still bears. When the judge asked him to demonstrate to the court how he had been beaten, the young freedom fighter walked across the courtroom from the witness box and, reaching where one of the prosecutors – a white man – was standing, and punched him in the face, giving him a bloody nose. His action was a blatant show of rebellion in the face of the colonial government. At the end of the trial, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison plus four lashes for punching the prosecutor. He was sent to Livingstone State Prison where he was held in chains.

At Force Headquarters, after being interviewed, he was taken to a room where 18 military officers stood with guns at ready. He was then handcuffed to a chain and ordered to break free or get shot. Shockingly, he pulled so hard and broke the chains in full view of soldiers and photographers who took photos of what seemed like magical power. It was from these photos that the Freedom Statue would be crafted by casting experts.

Mutembo was also given an official vehicle – a Land Rover station wagon – bearing the initials of his status “SNNRG” (symbol of the nation Northern Rhodesia Government) and a Union Jack.

A statue was made depicting the scenario when Mutembo broke the chains in 1963. On October 23, 1974, during the celebrations of the 10th Anniversary of Zambia’s independence, the Freedom Statue was unveiled and became a symbol of Zambia’s freedom from the British colonial regime, and has earned its place on some of the country’s most important articles, including its currency. The statue is a reminder of Zambia’s fight for freedom. It is displayed at the Government Complex along Independence Avenue in Lusaka.

For more stories from Southern Africa in this website, click here.

Rwanda 100 Franc 1989 banknote front (2), featuring zebras

Rwanda Zebras

Art from Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 – Face and Back
closeup detail of  Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 front, featuring zebra
detail from Rwanda (1989) 100 francs banknote

Zebras are beloved in Africa for their beauty.  They are very social roaming in clans, called by humans “harems”, with long-lasting committed relationships.  A harem consists of a stallion, several mares and their offspring.  Many harems will congregate into a herd during migrations and for protection.  They’ll remain together and act in coordination to defend against predators.

Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 front, featuring running zebra
Rwanda (1989) 100 francs banknote

Herds can be seen today roaming in the grasslands of Akagera National Park near the shores of Lake Ihema in Northeast Rwanada, a region shared with giraffe, hippo, buffalo and hundreds of species of bird. 

closeup detail of Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 back, featuring volcanoes Karisimbi and Bisoke
detail from banknote showing volcanoes Karisimbi and Bisoke

Volcanoes National Park is in Northwest Rwanda and is the first national park in all of Africa.  It is dominated by five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains.  Two of the volcanoes, Karisimbi and  Bisoke are illustrated on this banknote.  The region, covered in rainforest and bamboo is just 100 miles or so, as the wildlife roams, from Akagera National Park.     

According to Wikipedia, “Recent civil wars in Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda have caused dramatic declines in all wildlife populations, including those of plains zebra. It is now extinct in Burundi.”  Why is Volcanoes National ark depicted on the same 1988 banknote as the Zebra?  I do not know, but the suggestion occurs to me that perhaps zebras were well known on the sides of the mountains but departed elsewhere during the war.

Click here for more stories from the African Great Lakes Region.

Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 back, featuring volcanoes Karisimbi and Bisoke, and mother with child
Zimbabwe 100 Trillion Dollar banknote 2008 front (2), featuring balanced stones

Zimbabwe – The Signpost of the Balancing Rocks

Zimbabwe 100 Trillion Dollar Banknote, Year 2008 – Face and Back
Balancing Rocks of Zimbabwe featured on Zimbabwe 100 Trillion Dollar banknote 2008
Balancing Rocks of Zimbabwe featured on Zimbabwe 100 Trillion Dollar banknote 2008 front

This stacked configuration of rocks is a common trail marker for hikers in North America, and, I’d guess, the rest of the world.  Two stones stacked might be a coincidence.  But three stones stacked, or more, isn’t considered natural.  Such stacking is an evidence of intent, and therefore, a signal, or signpost.  And so, such hand stacked stones are commonly used for trail markers in the wilderness.

But these rocks in Zimbabwe are massive. They weigh tons.  For a sense of scale, note in the image, the treetops surrounding the stones.

What giants stacked such stones?

And what sign did they wish to leave for us?  What trail did they intend to mark?

They are signposts of the constructing powers nature.  These stones congealed from molten lavas, as plutonic granites, within massive volcanic flows, just beneath the surface of the earth.  As subsequent ages of erosion by wind and water lowered the surface of the land, and scoured the soils between the stones, these giants of the past were left, revealed.

The travel brochures tell us that the stones symbolize a need for balance between development and ecological preservation.  That’s nice sentiment, and I am sure it is true.  But it’s a sentiment that feels somehow imposed, rather than derived; and more contrived to sell postcards rather than to communicate a wisdom learned.

 Zimbabwe 100 Trillion Dollar banknote 2008 front , featuring balancing stones

Especially considering this simple 3 stone signpost of nature appears beside the number One Hundred Trillion on a Zimbabwe banknote.  “Trillion” is a word that was almost never heard a decade ago.  It was used for measurements in science but almost never for money.  A trillion is a thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand.  It’s a number that we really cannot imagine.  A thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand dollar bills, stacked on top of each other, would reach over 60 miles high.  That number on a banknote indicates something seriously out of balance.

In the 1990s, president Robert Mugabe used monetary policy to rebalance the country’s culture after the serious racial imbalance of the past.  The adjustments created serious imbalances in other ways. and the national economy was impoverished.   The relation between a day’s labor, and the money received, became entirely out of balance. An imbalance of money was printed to offset the other imbalances; and the self-perpetuating cycle of hyperinflation took off, until the dollar was meaningless.  This 100 trillion dollar banknote, in just a short time, became equal to zero.

zimbabwe leagal scales in gold

Imagine placing 100 trillion dollars on one side of a balance scale and nothing on the other side, and the scale showing a perfect balance.

But those three stacked stones remain, balanced, an eternal signpost.

Zimbabwe 100 Trillion Dollar banknote 2008 back
Zimbabwe 100 Trillion Dollar banknote 2008 back

For more stories from Southern Africa in this website, click here.

Eritrea 1 Nakfa 1997 banknote front (3), featuring an illustration of the Lifting the flag of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front.

Eritrea – Nakfa

Eritrea 1 Nafka Banknote – Face and Back

Lifting the flag of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front. 

The image has become a national symbol, and is now included on Eritrean currency.  An interview with the photographer can be found here.

The EPLF has been noted for its egalitarian approach.  30% of its constituent fighters were women, which significantly affected the traditionally conservative paternalistic outlook of the nation.

The EPLF captured numerous Ethiopian soldiers in battle.  But in contrast to the way the Ethiopians treated their captured, the EPLF did not mistreat them.  The taught them the principles of the EPLF.  They instructed them in world politics.  They trained many of them in crafts and trades.

Eritrea consists of nine nationalities. Tigre, Tigrigna, Saho, Afar, Kunama, Nara, Bilin, Hidarb, and Rashaida.  More information on this can be found on the Eritrean website here.

These nationalities are depicted in the banknotes in a series of tryptich portraits, that is, three-paneled illustrations such as in many of the classics.  The artist who designed these banknotes is Mr. Clarence Holbert, the first African American to design an African banknote.  He passed away January 9, 2018.  His memorial was reverently attended by representatives of Eritrea, and can be read about here.

Eritrea 1 Nafka Banknote front, featuring 3 women and scene of lifting the Eritrean flag

The reverse of the currencies reflect scenes from Eritrean life.  As recalled by Mr. Holbert, the currency “features the everyday people of Eritrea because Eritrean President Isaias had given specific instructions that money not feature cabinet or government officials or their relatives.”

Eritrea 1 Nafka Banknote back, featuring school in the bush
A scene from pre-independence school in the bush, education beneath the trees. The artist is African American Charles Holbert.
closeup detail from Eritrea 1 Nafka Banknote front, 3 women
closeup detail from Eritrea 1 Nafka Banknote back, featuring school kids reading

The Nakfa region, inhabited since ancient times, came under Italian control in 1890.  Italy lost control during WW2, and Eritrea was “awarded” to Ethiopia as a part of a federation in 1952.  In the 1960s, Ethiopia annexed Eritrea as a province.  This instigated the independence movement.  In 1977, the Eritrea Liberation Front laid siege to Nakfa, and, took it in their first major victory.  Eight subsequent attempts at recapture failed, during which much of the above-ground town was destroyed, and during which also, the Eritreans developed an significant underground facilities. Independence was secured in 1991.

“Nakfa” is now the name of Eritrea’s currency.  It is taken from the town which had become the main base of the Eritrean independence movement.

closeup detail from Eritrea 1 Nafka Banknote back  featuring school kids reading

Nakfa is famous for its extensive underground entrenchments developed in the time of the resistance.  Included are hospitals, printing presses, a radio station, college and factories, in addition to rings of trenches and minefields.

eritrea nakfa

The following paragraph is from this blog post with this photo of the Nakfa territory.  A special test for tourists is also the sites of the liberation struggle situated in bleak mountains of the Sahel, northern angle of Eritrea. Hence one must be willing to enjoy the arduous journey across the rough terrain mountains to visit these miraculous EPLF defenses, trenches, bunkers of Nakfa, Himbol and the Roras Plateaus, and the Denden terrains.

Additional reference here.

For more stories from Africa on this website, click here.

For tags from this website, see below.

Gabon 2000 back (4)

Gabon – 2000 Francs – Year 2000

Gabon 2000 Francs Banknote, Year 2000 – Face and Back
Central African CFA 2000 Franc Banknote Gabon 2000 front
Banknote of Gabon, front. Note the letter “L” in the bottom left corner. This is the country code identifying Gabon as the country of origin for this Central African CFA franc banknote.

Our beautiful banknote can only be identified as belonging to the African country of Gabon, by the letter “L”, above the numeral 2000 in the bottom left corner.  If that letter had been “C” or “E” or “F” or “N” or “P”, it would be identified with one of the other 5 countries using the same currency.  Together, those 5 plus our Gabon comprise the CFA or Central African Financial cooperative.

The nations and their currency code, for the 2000 franc banknote, are as follows: C (Republic of the Congo; 1993-2002 issue); E (Cameroon; 1993-2002 issue); F (Central African Republic; 1994-2002 issue); L (Gabon; 1993-2002 issue); N (Equatorial Guinea; 1993-2000 issue); P (Chad; 1993-2000 issue)

closeup map of gabon detail of Gabon 2000 Francs Banknote, Year 2000

The Map on the left is on the front of the banknote.  Notice that it is segmented into 6 parts, each with a dot.  This is a map of the 6 Central Africa Nations that compose the CFA, or known in English as the Financial Cooperation in Central Africa.  The countries mapped are, starting from the top and proceeding in a clockwise rotation, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

The image on the right, selected from this website, highlights the 6 member countries in dark red, and their positions in the continent.

CFA 2000 Franc Banknote Gabon 2000 back (2)
Currency of Gabon, back

Debate continues over the present use of the French backed common currency in the 21st century as outlined in this January 2018 article in the Economist.

Gabon 500 Franc 2000 banknote back (2), featuring gazzelles grazing beneath a baobab tree

Gabon – Baobab

Gabon 500 Francs Banknote – Face and Back
Gabon 500 Francs Banknote back, featuring antelope feeding under baobab tree and a kota mask
Banknote from Gabon, back, 500 francs

Antelopes grazing near the baobab tree is the illustration on the back of our beautiful banknote from Gabon.  The massive and amazing baobab is often called the tee of life.  It is thought by many to be the inspiration for the “Ents” in the stories of J. R. R. Tolkein.  The image on the left is a Kota mask.  The Kota, (meaning “united” or “bound together”), being several groups sharing a similar culture, fashion these masks and other figurines from wood and then frequently cover them with brass to increase their power.

Gabon 500 Francs Banknote front, featuring shepherd and zebus, cattle
500 francs banknote of Gabon, front

On the front of our banknote, the shepherd watches over his zebus.  Zebus are a humped cattle that thrive throughout the topics.

The banknote is common to the 6 nations of the CFA, Central African Financial cooperative.  The capital letter “L” in the bottom left corner is the sole distinguishing mark that links this to Gabon.  The other 5 countries have their own distinguishing letters.  The first two digits of the serial number, 00 (16579666) indicate the year of the issuance of this banknote.  The year of this banknote is the year 2000.

The artist is Pierrette Lambert. 

Guinea-Bissau 1000 Peso 1993 banknote back (3), featuring allegory “Apoteose ao Triunfo”, which translates from the Portuguese as, the “Glorification of Triumph”

Guinea-Bissau the Glorification of Triumph

Guinea-Bissau 1000 Peso Banknote – Face and Back

Portuguese Guinea was a West African colony of Portugal from the late 15th century until 1973 when it declared independence from Portugal as Guinea-Bissau.  The Glorification of Triumph is celebrated in this beautiful banknote.

Guinea-Bissau 1000 Peso Banknote back, featuring the allegory named “Apoteose ao Triunfo”

The beautiful artwork on the back of this banknote is the allegory named “Apoteose ao Triunfo”, which translates from the Portuguese as, the “Glorification of Triumph”.  In the foreground are men and women and children bringing forth in celebration the bounty of the land.  And in the background, as if illustrating what is in their minds as they celebrate, are universal images of triumph and glory.  In the foreground, the man standing on the right is holding an arade, a classic farming instrument of the region.  Everywhere there is bounty.  In the lower right there is a chicken and a goat.  In the center foreground there are baskets abounding with the tropical fruits of the land.  Standing on the right, a woman is holding a basket of fish, while seated on the left, one is pouring a cup of nectar.  All the while, musical instruments are being played.

Guinea-Bissau 1000 Peso Banknote front
1000 pesos banknote of Guinea-Bissau

From 1975 to 1997, the peso was the currency of Guinea-Bissau from 1975 to 1997.  In 1997 Guinea-Bissau switched to the West African CFA franc.

map of Giuinea-Bissau
map of Giuinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau is on the West coast of Africa immediately South of Senegal.  It’s complex coastline, as seen in the image2

at the left, with its numerous islands bays and inlets, was attractive to the early Portuguese explorers.  They claimed the territory and named it Portuguese Guinea in 1446.

Portuguese Guinea became a major export port for the Portuguese Atlantic Slave Trade.

Burundi 100 Franc 2011 banknote front (2), featuring Louis Louis Rwagasore

Burundi – Louis Rwagasore, They Killed Him, and Then Lots of Others Got Killed, But He is Still Here

Burundi 100 Francs Banknote – Face and Back
closeup of portrait of Louis Rwagasore detail of Burundi 100 Francs Banknote front
detail from Burundi banknote, front, 100.

Imagine, if, before South Africa was changed,  Mandella had been assassinated.  Imagine if Kennedy had not been assassinated, and America had been changed. Imagine if Burundi and Rwanda had changed in the 1960s, and the genocide of the 1970s and 1980s and 1990s did not happen.  Imagine Prince Rwagasore not assassinated at the moment of Burundi’s independence …

But, they killed Rwagasore; and millions perished with him.

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

He was the oldest son of the King, heir-apparent to the kingdom stretching back 4 centuries.  Briefly under colonial Germany and then for the latest 2 generations under colonial Belgium, Louis Rwagasore saw independence in his beloved country’s future.  For that future, he prepared, both himself, and his nation.

He’d been educated in elite secondary schools of Rwanda by the Brothers of Charity, and in European Universities in Antwerp and Louvain.  He’d prepared to forsake the throne of his fathers, and to advocate for a constitutional monarchy instead.  He, an ethnic Tutsi, married an ethnic Hutu woman, to promote the cessation of ethnic rivalries.

In the 1950s he urged the Belgian vice-governor to institute a new constitution in preparation for Burundi independence.  He founded a series of economic cooperatives to foster independence, but these were banned by Belgium in 1958 when they realized they threatened their colonial power.   He then founded UPRONA, the Union for National Progress, Burundi’s first indigenous political party.  In 1960, as head of UPRONA, he advocated for full independence from Belgium and called for civil disobedience through the boycott of Belgian stores and government taxes, for which he was placed under house arrest.  But his ideas were wildly popular with the people, and, when independence came in 1962, Rwagasore was elected by a huge majority to lead his people into the future.

Rwagasroe had become the change he foresaw for his people.  He became educated.  He abandoned the royal life for life as the citizen of a republic.  He, a tutsi, married a hutu women, to bring forth children of Burundi.

Shortly before he would enter into office, he was killed.  It is thought that the murder was a conspiracy between the Belgians and the opposition party.

Although he never said it in such words that we know of, Rwagasore, we are confident to say, had been to the mountain top.  There he looked out, over the Jordan, into the land of promise, the land of the future, the good land, the right land.  And what did he see?  We know what he saw by the man he became.  He let what he saw transform him into the same image.  He became husband of a Burundi woman; he became father of Burundian children, he became a citizen of the Republic of Burundi, he became a leader in Burundi, and, indeed, a leader for all humankind.

For further readings regarding this remarkable man, see here.

Burundi 100 Francs Banknote front, featuring tomb of Louis Rwagasore
Banknote of Burundi, front
Burundi 100 Francs Banknote back, featuring scene building a house in Burundi
Banknote of Burundi, back.

For more stories from the African Great Lakes Region in this website, click here.

For story tags in this website, see at the bottom of this page.

closeup of portrait on of Burundi 500 Franc 1995 banknote front

Burundi – Melchior Ndadaye, Burundi’s 1st Democratically Elected President

Burundi 500 Franc Banknote – Face and Back
closeup of coat of arms detail on Burundi 500 Franc Banknote back

It was October 21, 1993 when President Melchior Ndadaye was assassinated.  That morning the sun arose on the first democratically elected president of Burundi.  That evening the darkness arose for another year of genocide.  In the words of the American ambassador to Burundi:

“The bayonets thrust into President Melchior Ndadaye’s thorax, and the bullets that felled his vice president and cabinet members, critically injured the world’s newest democracy, born only 102 days before. Six million people, more than the population of Denmark mark or Ireland, and equal to the population of Israel, were suddenly thrust back into a miasma of misrule and uncertainty after a brief season of hope while the outside world took only temporary measures to stanch the bleeding.”

Ambassador Robert Krueger. From Bloodshed to Hope in Burundi: Our Embassy Years during Genocide (Focus on American History Series) (Kindle Locations 489-491). Kindle Edition.”

Burundi 500 Franc Banknote front
closeup of portrait on of Burundi 500 Franc 1995 banknote front

Reverse side features Banque de la République du Burundi (Ibanki ya Republika y’Uburundi;

Burundi 500 Franc Banknote back

Burundi) building, Bujumbura

Democratic Republic of the Congo 1 Franc 1997 1 centime banknote back (2), featuring Nyiragongo volcano and arabic coffee

Democratic Republic of the Congo – 1997

Congo 1 Centime Banknote, Year 1997 – Face and Back
Congo 1 Centime Banknote, Year 1997 back, featuring Nyiragongo volcano and arabic coffee
Congo banknote, 1997, back, 1 centime
Congo 1 Centime Banknote, Year 1997 front, featuring coffee harvesters

Congo banknote, 1997, front, 1 centime. The coffee harvesters are featured on the front of this banknote from the Congo.
Rwanda 100 Franc 1993 banknote back (2), featuring Lake Kivu

Rwanda – Lake Kivu, The Exploding Kind

Rwanda 100 Franc Banknote, Year 2003 – Face and Back

From Wikipedia, “This lake (Lake Kivu) has a chance of erupting every 1000 years.”

Okay, good to know.

Um….    WHAT ? ! !!!

Lake Kivu is illustrated on the back of our banknote from Rwanda, and enlarged in detail below that.

Rwanda 100 Franc Banknote, Year 2003 back, featuring Lake Kivu
Rwanda banknote, 2003, back
closeup Lake Kivu details of Rwanda 100 Franc Banknote, Year 2003 back
Detail showing Lake Kivu, Rwanda, African Great Lakes region
Nigeria 5 Naira 2015 banknote back (2), featuring Nkpokiti Drummers

Nigeria – Nkpokiti Drummers

Nigeria 5 Naira Banknote, Year 2015 – Face and Back
Nigeria 5 Naira Banknote, year 2015 back
Nigeria 5
Nigeria 5 Naira Banknote, year 2015 front
Nigeria 5
closeup of portrail on Nigeria 5 Naira Banknote, year 2015 front
Detail from front
closeup of dancers on Nigeria 5 Naira Banknote, year 2015 back
Detail from Nigeria 5 Naira Banknote
Nigeria 10 Naira 2011 banknote back (2)

Nigeria – 2011

Nigeria 10 Naira Banknote, Year 2011 – Face and Back
Nigeria 10 Naira Banknote, year 2011 back, featuring women carrying
Nigeria 10
closeup detail of women on Nigeria 10 Naira Banknote, Year 2011, back
Nigeria 10 Naira Banknote, Year 2011, front, featuring portrait
Nigeria 10
closeup detail of women on Nigeria 10 Naira Banknote, Year 2011, back
closeup detail on Nigeria 10 Naira Banknote, Year 2011, front
closeup detail of portrait on Nigeria 10 Naira Banknote, Year 2011, front
Burundi 10 Franc 2005 banknote front (2), featuring Burundi coat of arms

Burundi – Unite Travail Progress

Burundi 10 Francs Banknote – Face and Back
Burundi 10 Francs Banknote  front, featuring Burundi coat of arms

The light background surrounding the shield is the map of Burundi.  Its shape itself is shield-like.  Burundi lies immediately south of, and borders, Rwanda.  Within the map is the emblem, the Coat of Arms, of Burundi.  The Coat of Arms was adopted in 1966, shortly following independence.  It is a shield and banner, backed by three traditional African spears.  The shield presents the face of the lion.  The banner presents the Motto of the Nation.

From the Constitution of Burundi:

Article 9.
Motto of Burundi is: Unity, Work, Progress. The emblem of the Republic is a shield charged with the lion head and three spears, the whole being surrounded by the national motto.

Burundi 10 Francs Banknote back, featuring the motto Unite Travail and Progress in English and Burundi

The three word motto is presented in French and Kirundi; the French words readily discernible to English speaking peoples, but, perhaps, with unanticipated irony.  The middle word of the motto, travail, in the French, is the word common for work in English; that is “labor” in the unadorned common sense.  Whereas, travail to English speaking minds is freighted with tones of suffering and even sorrow, and is sometimes used in to describe the work of a woman bringing a child to birth.  I am shaking my head slowly with sadness and care as I write this, it feeling so apropos to poor Burundi.

Burundi 20 Franc 2005 banknote front (2) featuring The Intore Warrior Dancer

Burundi – Intore Dance

Burundi 20 Francs Banknote – Face and Back
Burundi 20 Francs Banknote front, featuring Intore warrior dance

The Intore Warrior Dancer is presented on the front of our banknote.  The warriors defended the King and paraded in dance before the delighted people when returning from victory.  The dancer wears the skin of a leopard and an elaborate headdress, bells on their ankles and necklace of ivory.  In his right hand is a spear and in his left a representation of a shield.  For a photograph and link to a fuller article, see below.

Burundi 20 Francs Banknote back, featuring Burundi coat of arms

The Burundi Coat of Arms adorns the back of our banknote.  The face of a lion is on the shield backed by three spears.  The National Motto is presented in French on the banner and encircling Kirundi, two of the three national languages of Burundi, the other being English.

Intore Dancers of Burundi
Intore Dancers of Burundi

This photo is taken from the fuller article on Intore dancers here.

Guinea 100 Franc 1960 banknote front (2)

Guinea – 1960

Guinea 100 Francs Banknote – Face and Back
Guinea 100 Francs Banknote  back, featuring banana harvest
Guinea 100 Francs Banknote front

October 2, 1958, Guinea declared independence from France.

In 1959, the Guinean franc banknote was issued to replace the CFA franc.  In 1960, 1st Mars, the date of our banknote, the 2nd issue of the Guinean franc was issued.1

Historically, the Guinea region was one of the first parts of Africa to trade with Europeans.

In 1478 (during the War of the Castilian Succession), a Castilian armada of 35 caravels and a Portuguese fleet fought the battle of Guinea in the waters off Elmina, for the hegemony of the Guinea trade (gold, slaves, ivory and black pepper). The war ended both with a Portuguese naval victory and the official recognition by the Catholic Monarchs of the Portuguese sovereignty over most of the African territories in dispute (Treaty of Alcáçovas, 1479).[9][10] This was the first colonial war among European powers. Many more would come. After the Portuguese and Castilians came the Dutch, French and British.

The extensive trade in ivory, gold, and slaves made the region wealthy, with a number of centralized kingdoms developing in the 18th and 19th centuries. These were much smaller than the large states of the wide-open Sahel, but they had far higher population densities and were more centralized politically. The cohesion of these kingdoms caused the region to show more resistance to European incursions than other areas of Africa. Such resistance, combined with a disease environment hostile to Europeans, meant that much of Guinea was not colonised by Europeans until the very end of the 19th century2

map of Guinea togo and slave coast 2
The Region of Guinea, Negroland and Guinea with the European Settlements”Herman Moll, 1727, published in Wikipedia article, nea
Malawi 1 Kwacha 1992 banknote back (2) featuring workers harvesting tobacco

Malawi – Tobacco

Malawi 1 Kwacha Banknote – Face and Back
Malawi 1 kwacha banknote (1993) reverse, featuring farmers harvesting tobacco
Malawi, 1 hwatcha banknote, featuring tobacco workers

From wikipedia here:   Tobacco production in Malawi is one of the nation’s largest sources of income. As of 2005, Malawi was the 12th largest producer of tobacco leaves and the 7th largest global supporter of tobacco leaves. As of 2010, Malawi was the world’s leading producer of burley leaf tobacco. With the decline of tobacco farms in the West, interest in Malawi’s low-grade, high-nicotine tobacco has increased. Today, Malawian tobacco is found in blends of nearly every cigarette smoked in industrialized nations including the popular and ubiquitous Camel and Marlboro brands. It is the world’s most tobacco dependent economy.

Burley leaf from Malawi makes up 6.6 percent of the worlds tobacco exports and accounts for over 70 percent of Malawi’s foreign earnings. Tobacco sales generate 165 million dollars per year for Malawi, with tobacco making up 53 percent of Malawi’s exports.

Approximately 75 percent of the population depends on tobacco farming although only a small proportion of Malawians are smokers. 5 million workers are indirectly employed in related industries or are family members of tobacco workers.

Malawi 1 kwacha banknote (1993) obverse, featuring portrait of President-for-Life Hastings Banda
Malawi, 1 kwatcha banknote, 1992, President-for-Life Hastings Banda

During the era of Hastings Banda, 1966-1994, the local tobacco industry grew and changed and flourished.  Production rose 100% by the 1970s from the pre-independence days.  Furthermore in the 1970s, tobacco production began its huge shit from the “developed” nations to the “developing” nations, a movement upon which Malawi capitalized.  Formerly one of the very poorest of African nations, its economy has been bolstered substantially by tobacco.

Malawi gained independence in 1964, and Banda the presidency in 1966.  In 1970 he was named President-for-Life, a position held until he lost a UN pressured election in 1994.

Malawi 5 Kwacha 2005 banknote back (2) Featuring mother and children preparing food - Food Security

Malawi – Food Security

Malawi 5 Kwacha Banknote, Year 2005 – Face and Back
Malawi 5 kwacha banknote  (2005) reverse - featuring an image of family preparing food - Food Security
Malawi, 2005 banknote, 5 kwatcha, featuring artist’s theme “Food Security”

“Food Security”.  The beautiful artwork suggest, perhaps, a Mother, two older daughters and a young child.  The Mother is smiling.  She is pouring into a basket almost ready to overflow. This makes her happy.  Her family will be fed into the future.  The older daughters are working the heavy poles, processing the produce picked from the fields behind them.  They have learned their Mother’s ways and priorities.  One must provide for food for the family.  The young one is learning from her older sisters.  The artwork is beautiful.  The illustration is moving.

As I write this, I am mesmerized.  I am sitting in a pub, on my second beer, feeling a little uncomfortable because I ate too much food for lunch.  As I did yesterday.  And the day before.  And the day before that.  As I am getting older, I do find myself worried about “security” in my future.  Some kinds of security.  But I have never, not for one moment, ever, in my now somewhat long life, been worried over food security.  Have you?  I’d love to hear your stories.

A site I just discovered is here, the Famine Early Warning System Network, referenced from this Malawi report, here.  From this, I learn that there are very many people working together toward Food Security.  I want to help. 

Do you?

Malawi 5 kwacha banknote  (2005) front, featuring portrait of John Chilembwe
Malawi, 5 kwatcha banknote, featuring John Chilembwe, Preacher and Political Activist, early advocate of Independence for Malawi
Malawi 20 2015 back

Malawi – 2015

Malawi 20 Kwacha Banknote, Year 2015 – Face and Back
Malawi 20 Kwacha banknote, year 2015 back back, featuring machinga teachers training college, text books and graduation cap and tassle
Malawi 20 Kwacha banknote, year 2015 front, featuring portrait of  Inkosi Ya Makhosi M’Mbelwa II, also known as Lazalo Mkhuzo Jere
Malawi banknote, featuring Inkosi Ya Makhosi M’Mbelwa II, also known as Lazalo Mkhuzo Jere
Malawi 5 Kwacha 2005 banknote front (2), featuring John Chilembwe, a minister and educator

Malwai – John Chilembwe

Malawi 50 Kwacha Banknote – Face and Back
Malawi 50 kwacha banknote (2007) reverse , featuring Independence Arch - Blantyre

Featured on the back side of our banknote is the Independence Arch of Malawi, which also featured significantly in the independence celebrations of 2017, chronicled in the local media here.

Malawi 50 kwacha banknote  (2007) obverse, featuring John Chilembwe

John Chilembwe, a minister and educator, was against the colonial movement in the days of Nyasaland, the early 20th century.

The following is from a Wikipedia article here:
The Chilembwe uprising was a rebellion against British colonial rule in Nyasaland (modern-day Malawi) in January 1915, led by John Chilembwe, an American-educated Baptist minister, whose radical evangelical views of racial injustice may also have been influenced by millenarian Christians. Based around his church in the village of Mbombwe in the south-east of the country, the revolt was centered on the black middle class and encouraged by grievances against the colonial system, including forced labour, discrimination and the new demands on the indigenous population caused by the outbreak of World War I.

The revolt broke out in the evening of the 23rd January 1915, when rebels, incited by Chilembwe, attacked the A. L. Bruce plantation’s headquarters at Magomero and killed three white colonists; and a largely unsuccessful attack on a weapons store in Blantyre followed during the night. By the morning of the 24th January the colonial authorities had mobilised the white settler militia and redeployed regular military forces south. After a failed attack on Mbombwe by troops of the King’s African Rifles (KAR) on the 25th January, a group of rebels attacked a Christian mission at Nguludi and burned it down. The KAR and militia took Mbombwe without encountering resistance on the 26th January after many of the rebels, including Chilembwe, fled, hoping to reach safety in neighbouring Portuguese East Africa (modern Mozambique). About 40 rebels were executed in the revolt’s aftermath, and 300 were imprisoned; Chilembwe was shot dead by a police patrol near the border on the 3rd February.

Although the rebellion did not itself achieve lasting success, it is commonly cited as a watershed moment in Nyasaland history. The rebellion had lasting effects on the British system of administration in Nyasaland and some reform was enacted in its aftermath. After World War II, the growing Malawian nationalist movement reignited interest in the Chilembwe revolt, and after the independence of Malawi in 1964 it became celebrated as a key moment in the nation’s history. Chilembwe’s memory, which remains prominent in the collective national consciousness, has often been invoked in symbolism and rhetoric by Malawian politicians. Today, the uprising is celebrated annually and Chilembwe himself is considered a national hero.

malawi The last known photo of John Chilembwe (left), leader of the uprising, taken in 1914 from wikipedia
The last know photograph of John Chilembwe (from Wikipedia article sited above).
Malawi 100 Kwacha 2014 banknote front (2) James Frederick Sangala, nicknamed Pyagusi by his people, One Who Perseveres

Malawi – James Frederick Sangala

Malawi 100 Kwacha Banknote, Year 2014 – Face and Back
Malawi 100 kwacha banknote 2014 front, featuring portrait of James Frederick Sangala

James Frederick Sangala, nicknamed Pyagusi by his people, One Who Perseveres, was instrumental in the independence movement of Malawi in the middle 20th century.

Malawi 100 kwacha banknote 2014 back, featuring College of Medecine and stethescope
Malawi 200 Kwacha 2017 banknote front (2) featuring Rose Lomathinda Chibambo, “One of the Founders of Malawi”

Malawi – Rose Chibambo

Malawi 200 Kwacha Banknote – Face and Back
Malawi 200 kwacha banknote (2018) face, featuring portrait of  Rose Lomathinda Chibambo

Rose Lomathinda Chibambo, featured on our banknote, has been heralded as “One of the Founders of Malawi” by a local news outlet upon her 2016 passing.  More of this talented and courageous woman’s story is told below.

Malawi 200 kwacha banknote back

From Wikipedia:
Rose Chibambo organised Malawian women in their political fight against the British as a political force to be reckoned with alongside their menfolk in the push for independence. She was arrested on 23 March 1959, two days after giving birth to a girl, and taken to Zomba prison. Her fellow freedom fighters, including Hastings Banda were arrested earlier, on the morning of 3 March when governor Robert Armitage declared a state of emergency. After Malawi gained independence in 1964, Rose Chibambo was the first woman minister in the new cabinet. When she fell out with Dr. Hastings Banda she was forced into exile for thirty years, returning after the restoration of democracy.

closeup detail of Morocco 20 Dirham banknote front

Morocco Bab Chellah – 20 Dirhams

Morrocco 20 Dirhams Banknote, Year 2005 – Face and Back
Morocco 20 dirhams banknote, year 2005, front, featuring portrait of King Mohammed VI
Morocco 20 Dirhams, front

King Mohammed VI is featured on the front of the 2005 series banknote.  Born the oldest son to Hassan II, Mohammed was named Heir Apparent and Crown Prince on the day of his birth in 1963.  On July 23, 1999, he ascended the throne upon the death of his father and reigns as king to this day.

Beyond him is the gate of the Chellah, often referenced as bab callah, or similar, “bab” being an Arabic word for gate.  Chellah is an ancient fortress in Rabat, about 3 kilometers up the River Bou Reg from the Kasbah illustrated below.  The gate can be seen in this photo in Google earth.

Morocco 20 dirhams banknote, year 2005, back
Morocco 20 Dirhams, back

Featured on the back of this banknote is the Kasbah of Rabat, on the Atlantic ocean at the mouth of the River Bou Reg.  A kasbah, with various similar english spellings from the Arabic noun such as qasaba and qasbah, is a citadel or fortress or the central fortified part of a town.  In Morocco it frequently refers to multiple buildings in a citadel or behind a defensive wall.  Sometimes they were built on commanding hills for defense.  Often they were built at the entrance to harbors, such as ours here at Rabat in Morocco.  This was built in the 12th century.  It has recently been added to the World Heritage list.  The Kasbah can be seen in this Google earth image.

Detail from Morocco 20 dirhams banknote, year 2005, back
Detail from the back of the 20 Dirham Morocco banknote illustrating the Kasbah of the Udayas
View of the Kasbah of the Udayas from the opposite side of the mouth of the River Bou Reg
View of the Kasbah of the Udayas from the opposite side of the mouth of the River Bou Reg; from Sale, twin city to the capital of Morocco, Rabat. The high tower of the Kasbah is far left in the photo and central in the banknote image.
French West Africa 5 Francs 1941 banknote front (2)

French West Africa 5 Franc – June 1941

French West Africa 5 Franc Banknote, Year 1941 – Face and Back
French West Africa 5 franc banknote 1941 front, featuring portrait of a leader
French West Africa, 1941, front, 5 francs

June 3, 1941 is the date on our French West African banknote, colonies of France.

June 3, 1941, is just about one year after Germany began to effectively “colonize” France in 1940 with its invasion at the commencement of WW2.  And it’s just about 3 years before June 6, 1944, D-Day, when the Allied invasion in French Normandy commenced, leading to the Independence of France from its colonizers.

Our banknote is a glimpse into French West Africa, during the time that its colonizer was being colonized.

French West Africa 5 franc banknote 1941 back
French West Africa, 1941, back, 5 francs

The back of our banknote illustrates a weaver at his trade in French West Africa,  There is a glorious tradition to the craft worldwide, and Africa is prominent.1


Our banknote is a relic of the sins of the past.  It is testament to changing sensibilities that the story of this banknote would stun many in our modern word.  But, none the less, that same story, represented by this banknote, haunts a billion people to this day.


French West Africa, or, in the French language of our banknote, Afrique Occidentale, is the name of the late 19th century and early 20th century administrative grouping of African states under French colonial rule.2

  A common currency was utilized through much of this period.

Historical Context

European political and economic rivalries led to what has come to be known as The Scramble for Africa3

in the concluding decades of the 1800s.  With the advances in the Age of Industrialization, the formerly challenging logistics of transportation and communication and resource development became simpler, and consequently, more far reaching.  Nations vied with one another for resources and safe trade routes and secure lines of communication.  Military bases were sought to secure those routes, such as Britain’s to its colony in India.  In addition to such hard assets, politicians coveted colonial possessions for prestige on the world stage and as negotiating chips in the world game. To avoid war over territories, Bismarck of Germany, prompted by the Portuguese and supported by the British, called a meeting of interested nations to resolve differences and competing interests.  This became known as the Berlin Conference of 1884.4

The Berlin Conference delineated procedures by which nations could claim territory in Africa as their own colony.  In addition to recognizing several historic colonial claims, the Principle of Effective Occupation5

was promulgated which was to have rapid impact and lasting effect on the continent.  Essentially, it would be henceforth considered insufficient to simply place one’s flag on the coast and claim an entire continent for the King as had been done by nations in the 15th and 16th centuries.  Under this Principle, it was necessary to have established some form of administration, treaties with inhabitants, policing force and other elements of occupation.

With the establishment of the Principle of Effective Occupation, the Conquest of Africa having already accelerated in the previous decade, now intensified into the Scramble for Africa.  Expeditions were launched into the interior, treaties were established and often coerced from the natural inhabitants, and settlements were established.  Within a short time essentially all of Africa was subdivided into colonial territories under European control.6

New boundary lines, enforced by European politics, crisscrossed the continent.  These new lines had no connection to history, traditional hunting grounds, migration routes, sacred burial grounds.

21st Century

European colonialism of Africa collapsed following WW2, but the colonial boundaries remain.  The generation of leaders in Africa arising with the post war independence movements, generally adhered to the established stated boundaries in hopes of avoiding new conflicts among the peoples.  The boundaries, though, have no regard for traditional separations or commerce of the local ethnicities of the natural inhabitants of the land. This is one significant reason for separatist movements in Africa.7

The region formerly known as French West Africa, is today occupied by the following countries: Ivory Coast, Benin, Mali, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Togo and Nigeria.

Togo 50 Franc banknote front (2), featuring 3 women

Togo – 50 Francs – Era 1958

Togo 50 Francs Banknote, 1958 – Face and Back

The name Togo is translated from the Ewe language as “land where lagoons lie”.1.  The Ewe are perhaps the largest of about 30 ethnicities inhabiting Togo.

Togo 50 Francs Banknote, 1958 front, featuring 2 women and 1 man
Togo 50 francs circa 1958

The Portuguese arrived in 1490, two years before Columbus set sail to the West, and, thus, just on the cusp of the colonial age. In a few short decades the colonial era took off, and with it, the Atlantic Slave Trade. Togo and its neighboring regions earned the infamous name “The Slave Coast”.

Togo 50 Francs Banknote, 1958 front, featuring man in feathered headress
Togo 50 francs circa 1958


The Map below is found in the Wikipedia article on the Slave Coast of Africa.2  Outlined in yellow towards the left of the map is Togoland, the name given to Togo during the period in which it was a German protectorate.  The concave Atlantic Coast below is known as The Bight of Benin and bears the name Slave Coast in this map.

Togoland became a German protectorate following the Berlin Conference of 1884, which effectively launched the Scramble for Africa.3  Just about a decade prior to the Berlin Conference, about 10% of Africa was under formal European control.   It was about 90% under formal European control about 3 decades after the conference.  During those few decades, European governments channeled their national ambitions and martial energies into Africa.  But they weren’t exhausted as evidenced by WWI.

The German protectorate was invaded and taken by French and British forces early in WWI and subdivided into British Togoland and French Togoland.

map of togo and the slave coast
“Togoland” and ‘The Slave Coast” map.   The Slave Coast is still marked on this c. 1914 map by John Bartholomew & Co. of Edinburgh. dated 1914, see Wikipedia article.
Ethiopia 10 Birr 2006 banknote front (2) featuring a weaver

Ethiopia – 10 Birr – Year 2006

Ethiopian 10 Birr Banknote, Year 2006 – Face and Back
Ethiopia 10 Birr banknote year 2006 front, featuring woman weaving
Ethiopia 10 2006 front

TEN BIRR is noted prominently left center of the front of our banknote.  The Birr is the name of the unit of currency in Ethiopia and has been since the middle 1800s.  “Birr” means “silver” in the local languages.

A weaver adorns the front.  A lion appears behind the inscription for TEN BIRR.

Ethiopia 10 Birr banknote year 2006 back, featuring man riding on tractor
Ethiopia 10 2006 back

Fields are plowed in the foreground with rolling hills in the background.

Uganda 5 Shilling banknote back (2) featuring woman harvesting coffee beans

Uganda – 5 Shillings

Uganda 5 Shillings Banknote – Face and Back
Uganda 5 shilling banknote front
Uganda 5

The Ugandan Coat of Arms features prominently on the front of our 5 shilling banknote.  The coat of arms is backed by a map silhouette of Uganda.

close up of Uganda coat of arms from 5 shilling banknote front (2)
Coat of Arms over map of the nation

The shield and two spears are said to represent the defense of the nation.  The three images on the shield, from top to bottom represent the waves of the Lakes of Vitoria, the largest in Africa, and Albert, the endless sunshine of the land and the historic drum calling to meetings of ceremony and significance.  The shield is above a green mound representing the fertility of the land, intersected by an image of the ever flowing Nile river.  The shield is flanked by two birds.  On the left (our right) is the crested crane, also the national bird of Uganda.  On the right (our left) is the Ugandan kob, emblematic of the abundant wildlife of the land of Uganda.  The banner reads “For God and for my Country”, the national motto.

Uganda 5 shilling banknote back, featuring woman harvesting coffee beans
Uganda 5 shillings banknote

The reverse of our 5 shillings banknote features a woman harvesting a rich crop of coffee beans.  It has appeared on several Ugandan banknotes.

Mozambique 5000 Metical 1988 banknote front (2) featuring wood carving by Alberto Chissano

Mozambique – 5000 Meticals – Year 1988

Mozambique 5000 Meticals Banknote, Year 1988 – Face and Back
Mozambique 5000 Meticals banknote 1988 front, featuring wood carving by Alberto Chissano and painting by Malangatana Valente
Mozambique 1988

The image on the left 1 is a wood carving by Mozambique’s son, Alberto Chissano.  The image on the right is a painting by Malangatana Valente.

Mozambique 5000 Meticals banknote 1988 back
Mozambique 1988

The emblem of Mozambique is on the front of our banknote.  It’s symbols are explicitly defined in the constitution.

closeup of Mozambique 5000 Metical banknote 1988 banknote back (2)
Mozambique 1988

From the constitution:
Article 194 The emblem of the Republic of Mozambique shall contain as its central elements a book, a gun and a hoe, superimposed on a map of Mozambique, representing, respectively, education, defense and vigilance, and the peasantry and agricultural production. Below the map the ocean shall be represented. In the center shall be the rising sun, symbol of the building of a new life. Enclosing all this shall be a toothed wheel, symbolizing labor and industry. Surrounding the toothed wheel there shall be, to the right and left respectively, an ear of maize and a piece of sugar cane, symbolizing agricultural wealth. At the bottom there shall be a red strip with the inscription “Republic of Mozambique.”2

Biafra 1 Pound banknote face featuring palm tree in foreground before rising sun

Biafra – 1 Pound Note

Biafra 1 Pound Banknote – Face and Back

Biafra 1 pound banknote front, featuring palm tree
Biafra 1 front

The image of the rising sun beyond the palm tree features prominently on the front of our banknote.  Biafra adopted the song The Land of the Rising Sun1 as its anthem.  The words were written by Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria, and, regarded as the father of Nigerian nationalism.

Biafra 1 pound banknote back
Biafra 1 back

The coat of arms of Biafra is featured on the back of our banknote.  As is appropriate, the symbols are full of meaning.2

closeup of coat of arms on Biafra 1 pound banknote back
Biafra 1 back

The eagle: Sovereignty, Pride and Self-Esteem

The horn of the cow: Cultural heritage

The shield: the map of Biafra

The rising sun: Expectation

Eleven Rays of sunshine: the original 11 provinces of Biafra

Three rings: Three patriarchs of Biafrans

Two Leopards holding the shield: Defenders

The field of green: Natural resources

Biafran 5 Pound banknote back closeup of 4 Biafran girls smiling

Biafra – 5 Shillings

Biafra 5 Shillings Banknote – Face and Back
Biafra 5 shillings banknote front, featuring palm tree
Biafra 5 front

The Palm Tree stands in front of the Rising Sun.  The national anthem of Biafra is “The Land of the Rising Sun”1, written by Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria, and considered the father of Nigerian nationalism.

Biafra 5 shillings banknote back, featuring 4 smiling girls
Biafra 5 back
map of Biafra
Biafra Map, from wikipedia

The Republic of Biafra is the name of a 1960s secessionist state in Western Africa.  The Ibo people, sometimes called Igbo, predominantly occupied the coastal region of southeastern Nigeria including the delta of the mighty Niger River.2

Economic, cultural and religious tensions issued in a secessionist movement which led to the Nigerian Civil War lasting from July 1967 until January 1970.  The independence of Biafra was recognized by a number of surrounding nations and was supported by with arms from France.  Most of the rest of the world supported Nigeria’s claim to control over the region.  Nigeria was further supported with supplies of military arms from Britain and the United States.3

The international movement known as Medicins Sans Frontieres, or, Doctors Without Borders, was born in response to the crisis in Biafra.4

A fuller history can be read here.

Senegal French West Africa 5 Francs 1949 banknote front (2) featuring woman

Senegal – 5 Francs – Year 1949

Senegal 5 Francs Banknote, Year 1949 – Face and Back
French West Africa 19xx 5 front
French West Africa

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

Senegal 5 Francs banknote French West Africa 19xx 5 back
French West Africa

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.

map of senegal rivers
Senegal and Gambia Rivers on either side of Cape Verde

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.

map of senegal
map of Senegal shown surrounding The Gambia

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.

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.

Liberia 50 Dollars 2016 banknote front (2) featuring president Samuel K. Doe

Liberia – 50 Dollars – Year 2016

Liberia 50 Dollar Banknote, Year 2016 – Face and Back
Liberia 50 dollar banknote year 2016 front, featuring portrait of President of Liberia, Samuel K. Doe.
Front of 50 dollar banknote, Liberia, 2016

The front of our year 2016 banknote features one time President of Liberia, Samuel K. Doe. 1, the first native Head of State in the history of Liberia. 2 The story of President Doe incarnates the dichotomy of Liberia. Samuel K. Doe, born in 1950, become Head of State in 1980 at age 30, died by assassination in 1990 at age 40, and honored on our banknote twenty-six years after that.

Liberia 50 dollar banknote year 2016  back
Back of 50 dollar banknote, Liberia, 2016

For 133 years previous, the government of Liberia was dominated by the pioneering founders of the country and their descendants. In 1980, that all changed.

The generations-long brew of resentment among indigenous inhabitants of Liberia and the descendants of American transplants informed the thinking of young Samuel Doe. Having joined the army at age 18, and having displayed talent, in 1980, at age 30 he led the squadron which took the palace and killed the President. Naming himself general, Samuel Doe became Head of State at age 30, the first native Head of State in the history of Liberia.


liberian flag
Flag of Liberia

The flag is modeled after that of the United States of America.  Liberia’s 11 stripes represent the 11 signers of the Lberian Declaration of Independence.  The single star symbolizes African unity.

Coat of Arms of Liberia

The Coat of Arms for Liberia contains numerous symbols of the country’s founding and aspirations.

The sailing ship represents the arrival of freed slaves from the United States.  The plow and the shovel represent dignity and labor.  The palm tree represents royalty; and the rising sun, the birth of the country.  The white dove symbolizes the breath of peace.  The motto of the nation is bannered across the top of the shield, The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here.3


The colonial era began with the voyage of Christopher Columbus across the Atlantic ocean in 1492.  What has become known as the Atlantic slave trade, commenced almost simultaneously, and grew with the growth of colonialism.  In 1494, the Pope blessed the Treaty of Tordesillas which effectively divided the New World, outside of Europe, between Spain and Portugal, an indicator of just who were the dominating world powers at that time.  For the next one and one third centuries, the colonial era was largely the story of the Spanish and the Portuguese; and so was the story of the Atlantic slave trade.

Within 10 years of Columbus’ first voyage of 1492, the first African slave arrived in the new Spanish colony.  The year was 1501.  The place was Hispaniola, now known as The Dominican Republic.  The Portuguese began to colonize Brazil in 1532.  Although the Portuguese initiated their slave operations in the new world later than Spain, it wasn’t long before they exceeded Spain in the slave trade.  In fact, by the time of the final abolition of the African Slave Trade, the Portuguese had imported more African slaves into Brazil than any other country did into any other colony.  An estimate has 4 million slaves from Africa arriving in Brazil, 40% of the total number of slaves from Africa in the New World.4  Another million arrived in Spanish colonies.

With the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, ‘the image of Spain’s invulnerability in the Atlantic’5 was also overthrown.  Soon other European nations embarked on colonization programs and, building upon the established economic model, expanded the Atlantic Slave Trade.  These nations included Great Britain, France, Holland and Denmark.  The Dutch transported their first slaves to colonies in 1637 and the British in 1641.  And then the British were among the first nations to abolish slavery in1808, followed soon by Holland in 1814.6Spain abolished slavery in 1818 and Portugal in 1858.  Approximately 4% of the total Atlantic slave trade arrived in the territories now under the governance of the United States.

Slaves were transported to the United States territory, both before and after the founding of the country.  Modern estimates from various sources often range around 400,000 souls in total7 8 9., with about 25% arriving following the ratification of the Constitution, and 99% of that latter number to the southern states of the country.10

The spreading views of The Enlightenment combined with Christian sentiments to fuel political movements against slavery in the early history and prehistory of the United States. These views rang out in the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson in 177611 and the 2nd Inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln12 almost 100 years later.
In the early years after the founding of the United States of America, a movement developed out of concern for the slavery dilemma. By this time, slavery as an institution was well established, particularly in the agricultural oriented states of the South. And, in the natural evolution of things, there were people who defended slavery, people who attacked slavery, people who were slaves, and people who were free men now and formerly slaves. What to do? What is to be Done? Liberia was an early answer to this question. Liberia. The very name means Liberty. Liberia.

An early movement was known as American Colonization Society led directly to the founding of our nation Liberia.  In 1822 the ACS formed a colony on the West coast of Africa with the intent to found a nation for free African Americans.  The concept was that freedom there would be better than emancipation within the United States.  The concept had supporters and detractors across the spectrum, but the colony was established and in 1847 declared independence as the country of Liberia, about a decade and a half before the American Emancipation Proclamation and Civil War.  By 1867, just after the end of the American Civil War, 13,000 people had emigrated to Liberia from the United States..


The map below is from the website database  Select tab “Assessing the Slave Trade”, and, from the drop down menu, select “Introductory Maps“, and got to Map 9: Volume and direction of the trans-Atlantic slave trade from all African to all American regions

map of liberia slave trade
Map 9: Volume and direction of the trans-Atlantic slave trade from all African to all American regions

I would sincerely welcome your suggestions for improvement to this article.  Thank you.

Benin 500 Francs Banknote, Year 1994

Benin – 500 Francs – Year 1994

Benin 500 Francs Banknote, Year 1994 – Face and Back
West african CFA 500 franc banknote front
Benin CFA franc
West african CFA 500 franc banknote back
Benin CFA franc

This CFA franc originates in Benin.  The country code on the front of the banknote, top right corner and lower left, indicates this.  The country codes are as follows: A – Ivory Coast; B – Benin; C – Burkina Faso; D – Mali; H – Niger; K –  Senegal; T – Togo; S Guinea-Bissau.1

The first two digits of the serial number indicate the year the banknote was issued.  This banknote was issued in 1994.

The CFA franc began on December 26, 1945.2

somalia 1990 front 1000 (2) 300

Somalia – 1000 Shillings – Year 1990 – Muqdisho

Somalia 1000 Shillings Banknote, Year 1990 – Face and Back
somalia 1000 shilling Banknote year 1990 front, featuring two women weaving baskets

Muqdisho, as noted on the front of our banknote below the serial number at bottom left center, or Mogadishu, as known in English, translates as “the beautiful place”.  It is a coastal city, the capital and largest city, of Somalia; and it is featured on our banknote.  It is also know locally as Xamar.

somalia 1000 shilling Banknote year 1990 back
Somalia 1990

Two views of Mogadishu are presented on this side of the banknote.  The one is an aerial view of the port and the other is the waterfront.

1990, the year of our banknote, was a precipitous year for Mogadishu, perhaps the last of relative peacefulness for a long time.  In 1991, Drought and Famine and Civil War would break out and leave Mogadishu ruined.  Somalia and Mogadishu had been flooded with an estimated 1.5 million refugees from the recent war with Ethiopia.  Siad Barre, president of Somalia since 1969, was forced to flee Mogadishu in January 1991 into exile.  In 1991, May, the northern region of Somalia, north of the tip of the horn of Africa, declared its independence as the Republic of Somaliland.  With the overthrow of the Said government, Somalia and Mogadishu was in the control of competing clansman, armed with the pillaged stores of Somali armaments.  A massive drought began in the Summer of 1991, at least partly a direct military tactic, and was followed by devastating famine.1

The UN sent military observers in 1992 and a significant UN force arrived in December 1992 to bring stability.  15 Somali factions signed a peace agreement in the January and March 993, but by June 1993 security deteriorated and in early 1994 the UN forces withdrew.2


Our banknote is dated 1990.  For those curious, the events chronicled in the Hollywood movie Black Hawk Down occurred on October 3 and 4, 1993.  From, “A year before, U.S. soldiers were deployed to Somalia to support a United Nations humanitarian mission to help with a devastating famine.
Without a government in place, militia and clans were fighting among themselves for power, so President George H.W. Bush sent the troops over to help with more than 1 million people starving from the famine.”3

Somalia 5 Shilling 1994 banknote front (2) featuring camel caravan

Somaliland – 5 Shillings – Year 1994

Somaliliand 5 Shillings Banknote, Year 1994 – Face and Back
Somaliland 5 Shillings banknote, year 1994 front, featuring The “Goodirka” Building
Somalia 1994

Hargeysa 1994 stands out top center of our banknote.  Hargeysa was the capital and 1994 was the year of the first issuance of the Somaliland shilling.  It was issued October 18, 1994, and about a hundred days later, January 31, 1995, the Somali shilling was banned within the borders of the new state, Somaliland.

The “Goodirka” Building housing the Supreme Court of Somaliland is featured on our 5 shilling banknote. The building is in the city of Hargeysa, the largest city in Somaliland, and well as its capital. The beautiful animal on the right is the kudu.

Somaliland 5 Shillings banknote, year 1994 front, featuring camel caravan
Somalia 1994

Camel Caravan in the foreground with the hills known as Naasa Hablood in the background. The hills are near the capital city Hargeysa, feautured on the other side of our banknote.  Naaso Hablood translates as “girl’s breasts”.1

Somaliland arose out of the political conflict in 1991 that issued in the Somali Civil War.

Somaliland is “a self-declared republic that is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia. Having established its own local government in 1991, the region’s self-declared independence remains unrecognized by any country or international organization.”2

West Africa 500 Franc 1994 banknote back (2) featuring man on garden tractor

West African CFA 500 Franc

West African CFA 500 Franc Banknote – Face and Back
West african CFA 500 franc banknote front
Benin CFA franc

The italicized text below is taken entirely from Wikipedia (reference at end) and is in this website for reference.

The West African CFA franc (XOF) is known in French as the Franc CFA, where CFA stands for Communauté financière d’Afrique (“Financial Community of Africa”) or Communauté Financière Africaine (“African Financial Community”). It is issued by the BCEAO (Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, i.e., “Central Bank of the West African States”), located in Dakar, Senegal, for the eight countries of the UEMOA (Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine, i.e., “West African Economic and Monetary Union”):
Burkina Faso
Ivory Coast
These eight countries have a combined population of 102.5 million people (as of 2013), and a combined GDP of US$78.4 billion (as of 2012).” 1

West african CFA 500 franc banknote front

Benin CFA franc.  The letter “B” in the upper right corner and the lower left of this banknote is the country code.  This letter, “B”, indicates that this banknote originated in the country of Benin.

The banknotes generally utilize the same images both on the front and the back.  The country of issuance is identifiable by a country code, a single letter.  The country codes are as follows:

A – Ivory Coast
B – Benin
C – Burkina Faso
D – Mali
H – Niger
K – Senegal
T – Togo
S – Guinea-Bissau

closeup detail of Central African CFA 2000 Franc Banknote front, featuring portrait of a woman

Central African CFA 2000 Franc

Central African CFA 2000 Franc Banknote – Face and Back
 CFA 2000 Franc Banknote Gabon 2000 back (2)
Currency of Gabon, back

The entire italicized text below is taken from Wikipedia (see reference below) and included in this website for reference.

The Central Africa CFA franc (XAF) is known in French as the Franc CFA, where CFA stands for Coopération financière en Afrique centrale (“Financial Cooperation in Central Africa”). It is issued by the BEAC (Banque des États de l’Afrique Centrale, i.e., “Bank of the Central African States”), located in Yaoundé, Cameroon, for the six countries of the CEMAC (Communauté Économique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale, i.e., “Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa”):
Central African Republic
Equatorial Guinea
These six countries have a combined population of 45.0 million people (as of 2013), and a combined GDP of US$88.2 billion (as of 2012). In 1975, Central African CFA banknotes were issued with an obverse unique to each participating country, and common reverse, in a fashion similar to euro coins.
Equatorial Guinea, the only former Spanish colony in the zone, adopted the CFA in 1984.” 1

The banknotes are published with the same images for all participating countries.  The country of origination, however, is identifiable by a country code on each banknote.  Tracking these codes is more difficult than for the Western Africa CFA francs, because the country codes may change.  The list below has been compiled from data in the Wikipedia article on the Central African CFA franc. 2

Central African CFA 2000 Franc Banknote Gabon 2000 front
Banknote of Gabon, front. Note the letter “L” in the bottom left corner. This is the country code identifying Gabon as the country of origin for this Central African CFA franc banknote.

The first two digits of the serial number identify the year of issuance.  So, for example, the serial number on our banknote from Gabon, above, is 0015384617.  The first two digits are 00.  This indicates that the year of issuance is the year 2000.  Had the year of issuance been 1997, the first two digits would be 97.

For the banknotes issued from 1993 until 2001, the country codes for the 6 participating nations were as follows:
C – Congo
E – Cameroon
F – Central African Republic
L – Gabon
N – Equitorial Guinea
P – Chad

For the banknotes issued in 2002, the country codes for the 6 participating nations were as follows:
T – Congo
U – Cameroon
M – Central African Republic
A – Gabon
F – Equitorial Guinea
C – Chad

Angola 5 kwanza 2012 banknote (B550) back featuring bird flying over Ruacana waterfalls

Angola 2012 – 5 Kwanza – Year 2012

Angolan 5 Kwanza Banknote Year 2012 – Face and Back

Angola 5 Kwanza Banknote Year 2012 front featuring double bust of Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Antonio Agostinho Neto, two presidents of Angola.
Angola, 5 kwanza banknote, dated 2012

Conjoined busts of Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Antonio Agostinho Neto, two presidents of Angola.

António Agostinho Neto (17 September 1922 – 10 September 1979) served as the 1st President of Angola (1975–1979), having led the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the war for independence (1961–1974). Until his death, he led the MPLA in the civil war (1975–2002). Known also for his literary activities, he is considered Angola’s preeminent poet. His birthday is celebrated as National Heroes’ Day, a public holiday in Angola.1

José Eduardo dos Santos, born 28 August 1942)[2] is an Angolan politician who served as President of Angola from 1979 to 2017. As President, José Eduardo dos Santos was also the commander in chief of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) and President of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the party that has ruled Angola since it gained independence in 1975. He was the second-longest-serving president in Africa, surpassed only by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, who took power less than two months before dos Santos.2

Angola 5 Kwanza Banknote Year 2012 back featuring the Ruacana waterfalls
Angola, 5 kwanza banknote, 2012

The Ruacana waterfalls are featured on the back of our banknote.  The Ruacana falls are on the Kuene river which forms much of the border between Angola to the North and its neighbor Namibia to the South.

closeup of Angola coat of arms from Angola 5 kwanza banknote
Angola Coat of Arms

The Angola coat of arms is featured on our banknote.

Central is the machete and the hoe, symbols of revolution and agricultural workers.

The star rising represents progress.

The right half of the circle is a cog, or gear, symbolic of industrial workers.  The left half of the circle is a wreath of maize and cotton leaves, symbolic of agricultural workers.

The banner is Portuguese for Republic of Angola.

Angola celebrates its independence day November 11.  November 11, 1975 is the date of independence from Portugal.

closeup of Lesotho coat of arms from Lesotho 5 maloti banknote

Lesotho – 5 Maloti – Year 1989

Lesotho 5 Maloti Banknote – Year 1989 – Face and Back
lesotho 5 maloti banknote year 1989 front featuring portrait of King Moshoeshoe of Lesotho

Lesotho, “the land of the people who speak Sesotho”1
Depicted on the front of our banknote is King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho.  Moshoeshoe II presided as king in Lesotho during the era in which Lesotho gained full independence from Great Britain in 1966. He took his name from the great King Moshoeshoe I, founder of the kingdom in the 18th century.

lesotho 5 maloti banknote year 1989 back featuring  Maletsunyane Falls of Lesotho

The waterfalls depicted on our banknote our located in very remote territory, and, consequently, seen by very few people.. This is the Maletsunyane Falls of Lesotho, on the river of the same name.

The banknote featured is Lesotho, 5 maloti, dated 1989.  The currency is named loti, plural is maloti.

Lesotho celebrates its Independence Day on October 4.  In 1966, Lesotho declared its independence from Great Britain.

closeup of Lesotho coat of arms from Lesotho 5 maloti banknote
Lesotho Coat of Arms

The coat of arms of Lesotho is featured on our banknote.

The central crocodile is featured on a Basotho shield, the symbol for the largest ethnicity in Lesotho.  This symbol has been retained from Basutoland which preceded the establishment of Lesotho.

The shield is upheld by two Basotho horses.

Two weapons, the knobkierie club and the assegai spear are crossed behind the shield.  Vertically between them is a thyrsus tipped with ostrich feathers.

Peace, Rain, Prosperity, the motto of Lesotho, is written on the banner below

Burkina Faso 5000 Francs 2002 banknote back (2) featuring women at market scene

Burkino Faso – 5000 Francs – Year 2002

Burkino Fasso 500 Francs Banknote – Year 2002 – Face and Back

Burkina Faso 5000 francs 2002 banknote front
Burkina Faso (2002) 5000 francs front

The capital letter “C” in the top right corner and on lower left area of our banknote is the indicator that this West Africa banknote originates in Burkina Faso.  This CFA franc is backed by the treasury of France and is a common currency for 8 West African countries.  These countries as of the date of this post are Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Benin, Mali, Niger and Senegal.

The artwork is striking and sets these banknotes among the most beautiful in the world.   The artist is Pierrette Lambert, who developed the art for numerous banknotes.1

In the background center is a uranium smelting plant.

Burkina Faso 5000 francs 2002 banknote back featuring women in market scene
Burkina Faso (2002) 5000 francs

On the reverse of our banknote we are treated to a typical local market scene.

Sierra Leone 1000 Leone 2013 banknote front (2) featuring warrior Bai Bureh

Sierra Leone – 1000 Leones – Year 2013 – Bai Bureh

Sierra Leone 1000 Leones Banknote – Year 2013 – Face and Back
Sierra Leone 1000 leones banknote year 2013 front featuring Bai Bureh, the great Warrior of Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone 1000 leones banknote date 2013

Bai Bureh, the great Warrior of Sierra Leone, is named and featured on our 2013 banknote of Sierra Leone.

To me, his image on our banknote is quite striking, more so than the images of most any other leader on most any other banknote I have observed.  Bai Bureh’s image resembles that of the classic jester of the courts of Europe of the middle ages.  Sometimes it was only the jester that could be sufficiently daring to point out the folly of the ruler; and Bai Bureh, perhaps more than anyone in Africa, caused their overlords, the British to turn in circles.  At the end of this post, the reader will find the only known photograph of Bai Bureh, taken in 1898 as he sits peacefully, under arrest, with his unmistakable impish grin.  One can sense that his guard adores him.  He is revered to this day in Sierra Leone.

In his youth, his father sent him to a nearby small village for training in the craft of warriors.  His training elders recognized in young Bai superior innate abilities.  They named him Kebalai, the Warrior who never tires of War.  Not long after his return to his village he was named ruler of the village.  In succeeding years he defeated this and that territory and led his followers to victory over invaders and afterwards restoring the territory to the rightful inhabitants.  The people recognized in Bar Bureh a true leader and rallied around him and crowned him leader of Northern Sierra Leone in 1886.  He was 46 years of age.

As the British extended their power and during the Scramble for Africa, Bar Bureh continually resisted and evaded them.  He refused to acknowledge their treaties and he refused to pay their taxes.  Bar Bureh wanted the British to go home to Britain and let the Sierra Leone’s manage their own affairs.  Soon the British sent the military after him, but his superior knowledge of the terrain and innate brilliant skill allowed him to evade the British time and time again.

His humor delighted his followers and appears to have charmed his enemies.  Upon the British governor’s offer of 100 pounds for information leading to the capture of Bai Bureh, Bureh issued an offer of 500 pounds for the capture of the British governor.

The story is told that upon his capture, the British treated him as a political prisoner, rather than a military captive.  Subsequently, rather than executing in the manner routine in that era, he was sent into exile in a neighboring country, some historians suggesting that all of this treatment indicated the respect of Mr. Bai Bureh by the British army.

Today, Bai Bureh is considered by many military historians as the pioneer of modern guerilla warfare methods.

Sierra Leone 1000 leones banknote year 2013 back featuring satellite dish
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leon (from wikipedia) Bai_Bureh_(1898)
Bai Bureh, seated, upon his arrest in 1898
photo public domain

The photo at left is the only known photo of Mr. Bai Bureh, the Great Hero of Sierra Leone.  A remarkable and delightful article on the recent discovery and authentication of this sole photograph is online here, and I certainly urge the reader to read that article.

The photo above is from wikipedia and attributed as public domain

By Lieutenant Arthur Greer –

Sao Tome and Principe 5000 Dobra 2013 banknote front (2) featuring Rei Amador

Sao Tome & Principe – 5000 Dobras – Year 2013 – Rei Amador

Sao Tome & Principe – 5000 Dobras Banknote – Year 2013 – Face and Back
sao tome e principe 5000 dobras 2013 banknote front featuring Rei Amador and papa figo bird
Sao Tome & Principe

Rei Amador, an inspiring symbol of freedom and self-determination, is named and featured on our 2013 banknote.  In 1595 Rei Amador led the slave rebellion, known as the Maafa Revolt, on San Tome against the Portuguese.  On July 9, 1595, boldly, in the face of the Portuguese invaders, he raised a flag and proclaimed himself as king of Sao Tome and Principe.  Half of the enslaved population rallied to him and fought against the Portuguese, but the superior weaponry of the Portuguese overmastered the rebellion.  Rei Amador is considered the forerunner of all of the African Abolitionists; the predecessor of Toussaint Louverture of Haiti, Nzumbi of Brazil, Samory Toure of Guinea and Francois Makandal of Saint-Domingue.

The beautiful papa figo bird adorns the same side of our banknote.

sao tome e principe 5000 dobras 2013 banknote back
Sao Tome & Principe 5000 banknote
closeup detail of coat of arms on sao tome e principe 5000 dobras banknote  2013 front (3)

The national coat of arms is represented on the front of our banknote.

The central shield is upheld by a falcon on the left and a parrot on the right.

A star rests above the shield.

The banner below the shield displays the motto of the nation: Unity, Discipline, Work.