Democratic Republic of the Congo

back to Map of Africa

The flag and emblem of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are shown above

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, drawing it’s name from the ancient Congo, is a giant country, lying in the heart of the continent, adjacent to the source of the Nile Lake Victoria, bisected by the Equator and wrapped by the Congo River, one of the largest in the world.

The Congo River is the 2nd largest by volume discharge in the world, after the Amazon.1

The river is the deepest in the world, crosses the equator twice in its circuitous course from the highlands to the Atlantic ocean.

European explorations were conducted in the 1870s by Henry Morton Stanley sponsored by the King Leopold of Belgium. At the Berlin Conference, 1885, King Leopold acquired rights to the Congo River basin region and began to develop it as his personal resort. naming it the Congo Free State. Until 1908, Leopold forced the inhabitants to produce rubber, during which time, it is estimated that millions died. In 1908, the country Belgium formally annexed the region naming it the Belgian Congo.

Independence was achieved June 30, 1960, under the name Republic of the Congo. November 25, 1965, Mobuto came to power through a coup d’etat and, in 1971, renamed the country Zaire.

The 1st and 2nd Congo Wars …

Trouble in the East escalated during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and in 1996, Rwandan Tutsis invaded Congo commencing the 1st Congo War. May 17, 1997, upon Mobutu’s flight to Morocco, A Tutsi became President and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Congo. Continuing disharmonies led to a renewed outbreak of war in 1998. The 2nd Congo War, as it became known, lasted until 2003 and took over 5 million lives and left the country devastated.

Back to Map of Africa

Republic of the Congo

back to Map of Africa

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

Sometimes known as Congo-Brazzavile, this country shares the Congo River with DR Congo for most of its final descent to the Atlantic Ocean. The Congo, a giant of a river,1 2follows a long slow counterclockwise circular path from southern central African highlands northward and then westward and then southwestward to the Atlantic Ocean. Along this final southwestward journey, Congo Brazzaville occupies the river bank outside of the circle and DR Congo occupies the inner bank. This country, Congo-Brazzavile, was colonized by the French, whereas the southern bank was colonized by the Belgians, first as the personal property of King Leopold and then later as a colony of the nation, Belgium.

the colonial era …

In a 1880 treaty between Pierre Brazza and Kink Moakoko, the Congo region came under French authority. was colonized by the French in 1880. The colony became known as French Congo and then in 1903, Middle Congo, and then in 1908 French Equatorial Africa was organized and Brazzaville was designated as the federal capital.

During the Nazi occupation of France in WW2, Brazzaville served as the capital for Free France from 1941 to 1943. Following the war, and with the establishment of the French 4th Republic,3 Congo-Brazzaville received a local legislature. With the institution of the French 5th Republic, French Equatorial Africa was dissolved into its constituent colonies and Congo Brazzavile became known as Republic of the Congo. On August 15, 1960, the Republic of the Congo gained independence.

since independence …

Independence from France as gained 15 August 1960. It might be said that the post World War, cold war era, brought a different kind of colonization to Africa Nominally independent, political leaders were enticed with opposing patronages in the new bi-polar world.

In 1965, Congo established relations with the Soviet Union, People’s Republic of China, North Vietnam and North Korea.

Back to Map of Africa

Gabon

back to Map of Africa

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.

Back to Map of Africa

Cameroon

back to Map of Africa

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.

Independence…

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.

Back to Map of Africa

Central African Republic

back to Map of Africa

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.

Back to Map of Africa

South Sudan

back to Map of Africa

The flag and coat of arms of South Sudan is featured above.

South Sudan formally gained independence from Sudan in 2011, July 9 and became a member of the United Nations July 14, just a week later.

Civil war has occupied South Sudan since December 2013 when a power struggle declined into accusations of an attempted coup d’etat, and then the South Sudanese Civil War. For awhile Uganda forces supported the government against the rebels. The UN sent peace keeping forces into the region.

Back to Map of Africa

Chad

back to Map of Africa

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.

Lake Chad waters 4 countries a one time vast inland lake without outlet. The Chad Basin is vast, occupying 8% of the land area of the entire continent,1 and includes almost all of the country Chad, most of Niger and parts of five other countries. 2 At it’s lowest point is Lake Chad providing water for four countries.3 It is said that the lake shrunk in size 95% from the 1960s to the 1990s, but has recovered significantly since then.4The lake is shallow,5 and, therefore, one can imagine its expanse varies rapidly with inflowing water or its evaporation. The name Chad means “large expanse of water”.6

A crossroads of civilizations7 Chad has been termed in describing the flow of civilizations for millenia prior to the European arrival in the 19th century AD.

Colonial Era …

France established a protectorate over Chad in 1900.8 By 1920, colonial status for Chad was established and incorporated as part of French Equatorial Africa.9

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.

France generally viewed Chad as an unimportant colony and, consequent;y, little effort was expended to either administrate it or modernize it, to develop its educational system, or to develop its resources.10

Independence …

Independence was granted to Chad August 11, 1960.11  Sara François Tombalbaye served as its first president. Two years into his rule he banished opposition parties and ruled autocratically. Civil way began in 1965 led by Muslims in the North. In 1975 Tombalbaye was killed. In 1979 the capital was seized by rebels led by French and United States supported Hissène Habré and essentially all administrative functions of government ceased.

Habre consolidated power through corruption and violence and thousands are considered to have died under his rule.12 He was overthrown by his general Idriss Déby who worked at reconciling the competing factions and continues to rule in Chad to the present.

back to Map of Africa

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. 

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.
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”):
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

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

democratic republic of congo 20 francs banknote back, year 2003, featuring lioness and 2 cubs

Democratic Republic of the Congo – 20 Francs – Year 2003

The Democratic Republic of the Congo 20 Francs Year 2003 Banknote – Front and Back
Democratic republic of the Congo 20 francs banknote 2003 front featuring male lion
Central African Republic

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.

Democratic republic of the Congo 20 francs banknote 2003 front featuring lioness with 2 cubs
Central African Republic

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.

Republic of Central Africa 500 Franc banknote back featuring man with masks

Central African Republic – 500 Francs – Year 1987

Central African Republic – 5/100 Francs Banknote – Year 1987 – Face and Back
Republic of central africa 500 Francs banknote front featuring wood carvings statue and vase
Central African Republic

Our banknote features wood carvings and a wood carver.

Republic of central africa 500 francs banknote back featuring wood carver
Central African Republic

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:

  1. the lowest GDP per capita at purchasing power parity in the world as of 2017.
  2. the country had the lowest level of human development, ranking 188th out of 188 countries.
  3. It is also estimated to be the unhealthiest country
  4. It is the worst country in which to be young.

What shall we do?  Today?

Closeup detail Chad 1000 Francs 2000 banknote back featuring people on raft

Chad – 1000 Francs – Year 2000

Chas 1000 Francs Banknote – Year 2000 – Face and Back
Chad 1000 Franc banknote year 2000 - front
Chad 1000 francs year 2000

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 – Equatorial 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.

Chad 1000 Francs Banknote year 2000 back
Chad 1000 francs year 2000

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.

Chad 1000 francs banknote year 2000 closeup detail map
Chad 1000 francs year 2000

The six participant countries are indicated in this map on our banknote.

Chad is at the top of this map.

Closeup of detail Chad 1000 Francs 2000 banknote front (2)
Chad 1000 francs year 2000

Closeup detail Chad 1000 Francs 2000 banknote back featuring people on raft
Chad 1000 francs year 2000
detail from Cameroon 500 Francs Year 2002

Cameroon – 500 Francs – Year 2002

Art of Cameroon 500 Francs Banknote – Year 2002 – Face and Back
Cameroon 500 Francs banknote Year 2002 , featuring school children in class
Cameroon 500 Francs Year 2002

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.

Cameroon 500 Francs Banknote - Year 2002 featuring village woman and 2 hits
Cameroon 500 Francs Year 2002