Mighty Africa ,Mysterious Africa – This magnificent continent is considered in this website under these five great regions: Northern Africa, Eastern Africa, Western Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa
A lovely classroom scene is featured on the obverse of our Cameroon 500 franc banknote. It appears as if a classroom demonstration is taking place, with one student at the blackboard illustrating the alphabet to others, How important education is! And how commendable that education is being celebrated on our banknote.
The Central Africa CFA franc is a common currency among 6 central Africa states. The capital “U” in the top left and right corners is what distinguishes this particular banknote as originating from Cameroon. In 2002, the year of issuance of our banknote, (see back lower right corner), U designated Cameroon, whereas the other 5 nations are designated as follows: T – Republic of Congo, M – Central African Republic, A – Gabon, F- Equatorial Guinea, C- Chad.
In the earliest days of independence from the colonial era, 1972-1976, education in Cameroon was split between the French system of teaching with the French language, and the British system of teaching and the English language. The two methods and languages in one country were considered a testament on unity between east Cameroon and West Cameroon. But not only are the languages different, but the logic of the instructional methods are different, and it became recognized that the differences were creating some, perhaps unnecessary, confusion. English is now the primary language in education in Cameroon. The constitution of Cameroon states: “the State shall guarantee the child’s right to education [and that] primary education shall be compulsory“.
Cameroon became a German colony in the late 19th century. Following Germany’s defeat in WW1, by a League of Nations mandate, France and Great Britain came to control portions of the territory. Following WW2 an independence movement began and was resisted by the French. Cameroon gained independence on January 1, 1960.
“Issued by the Military Authority in Tripolitania” reads our banknote prominently across the obverse top center. The Tripolitanian Lira was issued in this region under British command, generally now known as Libya, during and immediately following World War 2. It was replaced in 1952 with the Libyan pound, Libya having become independent the preceding year, 1951. Tripoli today is the largest city in Libya., Benghazi being the second largest city.
Tripolitania, on the Mediterranean coast of northern Africa, is a region populated since time immemorial, and prominent since, at least, the Carthaginian empire, a great competitor of the early Roman empire. A city, on the site of present day Tripoli, was founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC; and was subsequently overtaken by the Greeks and then the Carthaginians. With the defeat of Carthage in the Punic Wars, Tripolitania came under the governance of Rome until the Fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century. The 8th century Muslim Conquest brought Tripolitania under the influence of Islam, and the 15th century Ottoman Conquest brought it into the new empire.
A military coup d’etat brought Omar Gaddafi to power in 1969. Gaddafi ruled until he was overthrown in the 2011 civil war, a part of the Arab Spring.
Tripoli has an ancient heritage. Americans may recall the name in the lyric from the theme song of the Marine division of its armed forces, “..to the shores of Tripoli“. A Barbary wars fought around Tripoli were perhaps the official first armed conflict of the newly birthed United States.
The front of our banknote features the agriculture of coffee in central Africa. The coffee flower in the lower left and the coffee fruit in the upper right, then the coffee picking in the upper center and the coffee winnowing in the lower center, all elements of the agriculture so important to Central Africa. Our banknote is from Chad. This is indicated by the letter “P” in the top right corner and lower left corner of the front of our banknote.
6 countries participated in the common currency known as the Central African CFA franc at this time. The images are the same, but each banknote is marked with a country code. 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
The first two digits of the serial number identify the year of issuance. So, for example, the serial number on our banknote from Chad, above, is 0058189410. 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.
The logging industry is featured on the reverse of this banknote from Chad. Appropriate trees are selected and felled in the forest. Then they are topped and delimbed and cut into transportable logs. The image on our banknote shows five men, equipped with tools of the trade, guiding their prepared logs on the waterways of Central Africa to the preplanned spot where a transport truck is waiting.
The beautiful hardwoods from the equatorial rainforests of Central Africa are prized around the world.
The six participant countries are indicated in this map on our banknote.
Our banknote featured wood carvings and a wood carver.
The Republic of Central Africa.
The territory is beautiful. Modern exploratory research indicates it is rich in natural resources below the ground in addition to its large swaths or arable land.
Its history is ancient with evidence of inhabitants dating back 10 millenia at least.
The landlocked country was ultimately penetrated by the Atlantic slave trade as was so much of West Central Africa.
France colonized the region about 150 years ago and the boundaries by which it is now known then began to take shape.
Independence was gained from France in 1960 and its present boundaries set.
The Central African Republic is among the very poorest of our world. The following measures were taken in the last half of the 2nd decade of the 21st century by various international agencies. The Central African Republic rates:
a) the lowest GDP per capita at purchasing power parity in the world as of 2017.
b) the country had the lowest level of human development, ranking 188th out of 188 countries.
c) It is also estimated to be the unhealthiest country
d) It is the worst country in which to be young.
A young Gambian lady graces the front of this banknote of Gambia. Adjacent to her is an image of the giant kingfisher bird of Gambia. The giant kingfisher, pictured at rest, and also in flight in a smaller image to the left, can be 18 inches long and resides throughout sub-Sahara Africa.
A scene with cattle and herders, in a meadow with palm trees in the background, is on the back of our banknote.
Properly called The Gambia, (like The Bahamas), Gambia is completely surrounded by Senegal, except for a brief Atlantic Ocean coast. The land of The Gambia is completely dominated by the mighty Gambia River flowing due West into the Atlantic ocean from the mountains in the East. The river is navigable for almost 1000 kilometers inland from the ocean and thus invited early explorers. The Portuguese, the earliest known European explorers, traveling South from Portugal, first encountered and explored the somewhat parallel running Senegal River in the North. A decade later, they rounded Cape Verde, the westernmost point of the African continent and encountered and began the exploration of the river Gambia. A century or so later, the French and the British exploratory endeavors began to overshadow those of the Portuguese and Spanish, and the French settled the regions around the Senegal River and the British settled the Gambia River territory.
The island in at the mouth of the river, now known as Kunta Kinteh Island, has been designated as a world UNESCO heritage site. The first European settlers arrived in the late 1500s from Holland, but in 1664 the island was ceded to the British. Thereafter, if not before, it became integral to the African Slave Trade. The island itself became well known through the influential Alex Haley broadcast Roots. Kunte Kinteh is the name of a character described in Roots.
The date of our banknote not known exactly, but the features on the front and back were known to occur on 1996 and 2006 issues of the 5 dalasis banknote, and therefore likely all of the intervening years too.. The 2015 issue of the 5 dalasis banknote is pretty much the same on the front and back except that the image of the happy young lady is replaced with the image of the then president, Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh seized power in 1994 in a coup d’e’tat and ruled for 22 years until he fled the land in 2017 following an electoral defeat. So the 2015 banknote image shows him near the conclusion of his reign. Today his administration stands accused of perpetrating violence against the people including executions tortures and rapes. A truth and reconciliation commission was established October 15, 2018 to further the healing of the nation.
A Bountiful Harvest of Coffee is celebrated artistically on our banknote. On the left is a broad view of a well organized farm. On the right is detail of the coffee plant and fruit. At center is a large coffee plant and at left the coffee fruit is being separated.
The zebra and giraffe adorn our banknote, and, at center is the coat of arms of Tanzania.
The central shield bears four images from top to bottom: the enflamed torch, the flag of Tanzania, a crossed axe and hoe, a spear over a pattern of waves.
The shield rests upon the image of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The shield is surrounded on the left and right with the tusks of the elephant.
The shield is upheld by a man standing upon a plant of cloves, and a woman standing upon a plant of cotton.
Beneath them is the unfurled banner with the motto of the nation, Freedom and Unity in Swahili.
The giraffe looks out at us from our banknote of Tanzania. We cannot see the totality of our graceful creature, but if we were to zoom out, we would find that we would have to zoom out more than for perhaps any other land-based living mammal. Our giraffe is, likely, a Masai giraffe, the largest subspecies of the entire giraffe family, residing in southern Kenya and, our, Tanzania. The Masai giraffe is also known as the Kilimanjaro giraffe. As Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, so the Masai giraffe is the tallest mammal on the earth. Our giraffe can be 19 feet tall, and, with its 6 foot long legs, can run at about 35 miles per hour..
The coat patterns vary among the various giraffe subspecies, the masai giraffe’s spots being somewhat more jagged than jagged. It is believed that no two individual’s spot patterns are identical and thus individuals may be identified.
The Masai giraffe is generally found in Tanzania and Kenya and Somalia and Ethiopia.
The majestic profile announces the featured subject of our banknote, The Lion Family.
Kundelungu is a National park of the Democratic Republic of the Congo established in 1970.
Kundelungu National Park is mentioned on the face of our banknote, captioned beneath the lioness and her cubs. Kundelungu National Park was constituted in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the southeastern sector, near to southern border with Zambia.
The Congo Lion has been proposed as a lion subspecies, but is not so accepted at this time. Lions range in DR Congo, Uganda and Burundi, and the region is considered a potential stronghold for lions if the poaching can be stopped. Presently, lion populations are considered stable in only a few remaining reagions in Botswana and Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Lions are suffering from poaching and diminishing habitat.
Musical instruments and musical scores adorn this side of our banknote from Sudan.
The story of Sudan, the southern neighbor of Egypt, traces back, at the least, to the age of the Pharoahs. At the end of the colonial era, it was under British control, from which it gained independence in 1953, in the rearrangement of all things following the wars of the 20th century.
2011, the year of our banknote, is also the year of the dissolution of Sudan’s union with much of its southern populace. This dissolution was the climax of two civil wars, the first of which commenced in 1955, 2 years after independence from Britain, and the second of which commenced in 1983, 11 years after the end of the first, but widely regarded as a continuation of the 1st civil war. The South seceded and has been recognized internationally as a new nation, South Sudan.
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.
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.
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.
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 at left if from wikipedia and attributed as follows:
By Lieutenant Arthur Greer – http://www.sierraexpressmedia.com/archives/57097, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28429122
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.
On the reverse of our banknote we are treated to a typical local market scene.
Lesotho, “the land of the people who speak Sesotho”1
Depicted on the front of our banknote is King Moshoeshoe of Lesotho. Moshoeshoe presided as king in Lesotho during the era in which Lesotho gained full independence from Great Britain in 1966.
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.
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.
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”): Cameroon Central African Republic Chad Congo-Brazzaville Equatorial Guinea Gabon 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
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
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”): Benin Burkina Faso Guinea-Bissau Ivory Coast Mali Niger Senegal Togo 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
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
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.
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
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.
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 Military.com, “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
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 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.
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.
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.
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 total789., 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 www.slavevoyages.org. 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
I would sincerely welcome your suggestions for improvement to this article. Thank you.
The CFA franc was introduced in 1945. The letter “K appearing twice on the front of our banknote is the distinguishing mark that identifies Senegal as the country of origin. The other countries sharing the CFA franc, with their identifying marks are: Côte d’Ivoire / Ivory Coast “A”; Benin “B”; Burkina Faso “C”; Mali “D”; Niger “H”; Togo “T” and Guinea-Bissau “S”. Senegal, as stated, has “K” as the identifying mark.1
The back of our banknote features canoes, men, and, the river. It is thought by many that the origin of the word “Senegal” is an early word in a local dialect meaning “our canoe”. This meaning, although disputed by some technicians, has nevertheless become popular today, being used commonly in phrases with meanings to the effect: “we are all in the same canoe.“2
French West Africa was a federation of 8 states existing from 1895 until 1960.3
Senegal’s Capt-Vert projects its triangular point 4 directly into the Atlantic Ocean, the westernmost point of the grand collective landmass termed Afro-Eurasia.5 Also known as Cape Verde, it is roughly equidistant between the mouths of two great rivers, the Senegal and the Gambia, about 100 kilometers from each. These became the early colonial outposts of the Europeans.
Middle 1400s Portuguese explorers, decades before the voyage of Columbus, reached the Senegal first (being the northernmost river of the two and closer to Portugal), rounded Cape Verde and explored the Gambia second (map image6 right). Two hundred years later, the French and the British, emerging from their own borders with global ambition, established trading posts, and then settlements, and, eventually, forts in the region, the French at the Senegal River and Cape Verde area, and the British at the Gambia river. In the wars of the 17th and 18th centuries between the French and the British, these West African settlements changed hands again and again. But by the time of the late 19th century “scramble for Africa”, the French found themselves in the better position.
The British found themselves occupying a relatively thin strip from the ocean, inland along the banks of the Gambia River. France occupied the regions along the Senegal River, the region of Cape Verde, and the land completely surrounding the British on both banks of the Gambia and inland. These boundaries remain unto this day; and that’s why the map looks the way it does.7
Senegal celebrates its Independence Day on April 4th. On April 4, 1959, Senegal joined with French Sudan to form the Mali Federation, which became independent from France the following year, April 4, 1960 with the signing of a Transfer of Power Agreement. Due to internal political differences, that federation swiftly dissolved and the two nations declared separate independences in August of the same year. Senegal retained its name Senegal, and the former French Sudan adopted the name Mali. Mali celebrates its Independence Day September 22, that date in 1960 being the day it emerged independent from the Mali Federation.
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.
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
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.
The coat of arms of Biafra is featured on the back of our banknote. As is appropriate, the symbols are full of meaning.2
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
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.
The emblem of Mozambique is on the front of our banknote. It’s symbols are explicitly defined in the constitution.
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
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.
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.
The reverse of our 5 shillings banknote features a woman harvesting a rich crop of coffee beans. It has appeared on several Ugandan banknotes.
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.
Fields are plowed in the foreground with rolling hills in the background.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
European political and economic rivalries led to what has come to be known as The Scramble for Africa 3 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 Occupation 5 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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?
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.
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.
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). 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 century. 2
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.
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.
This photo is taken from the fuller article on Intore dancers here.
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.
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.
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.”
Reverse side features Banque de la République du Burundi (Ibanki ya Republika y’Uburundi; Bank of the Republic of
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.1
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Zanco Mpundu Mutembo was arrested and handcuffed with chains which he broke in the presence of 18 soldiers armed with guns.
Mr. Mutembo was ORDERED TO BREAK FREE FROM THE CHAINS OR BE INSTANTLY SHOT DEAD.
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.
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.
Try this photo.
Our elephants can be 4 meters tall!
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, them 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.
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.
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.
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 summersaulting, 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.
Coffee in Rwanda has been a significant industry both before and after the infamous 1990s. Coffee crops were encouraged by Germany during their colonial period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rwanda came under Belgian colonial influence following WWI and coffee growing was systematized. Coffee has continued as a prime industry for Rwandans since their 1961 independence and is a key part of their economic rejuvenation in the 21st century.
The banknote above illustrates the coffee plant, a family working the coffee fields in one of the numerous small plantations in this “land of a thousand hills”, and a woman carrying the harvested coffee.
The back of the currency is an illustration from the Rwandan countryside. Banana trees are shown on the left and lake Kivu and hills are shown on the right.
Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes, covers approximately 1000 square miles.
Watutsi warriors are illustrated on the front of the 1000 franc banknote.
The Coat of arms from independence until the 21st century is on the bottom left. “Republique Rwandaise – Liberte’ – Cooperation – Progress”.
The Coat of arms was restyled in 2001, after the genocide of the 1990s.
The Watutsi, also known as Tutsi, were victimized by the Hutus in the genocide of 1994, but the hostilities went both ways for decades, whereas the animosity was ultimately but a century old. The Germans appear to have developed the so-called racial distinction between the Tutsi and the Hutu during their brief colonial enterprise, favoring the minority Tutsi for administrative positions. The distinction appears to have been only a hypothesis as no archaeological, historical nor even linguistic distinctions have been discovered since to support the distinction. The Belgians relied upon existing the Tutsi administrating structure as they commenced their colonial administration following WWI. Their rule reinforced the ethnic divide. In 1931, during the time of the eugenics movement in Europe and the United States, an ethnic identity card was issued for each Rwandan.