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

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

Zanzibar …

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

Tanganyika …

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

Zanzibar …

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

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

Tanganyika …

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

Tanzania …

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

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

Rwanda 1980’s Francs

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

Coffee in Rwanda has been a significant industry both before and after the infamous 1990s.  Coffee crops were encouraged by Germany during their colonial period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Rwanda came under Belgian colonial influence following WWI and coffee growing was systematized.  Coffee has continued as a prime industry for Rwandans since their 1961 independence and is a key part of their economic rejuvenation in the 21st century.

The banknote above illustrates the coffee plant, a family working the coffee fields in one of the numerous small plantations in this “land of a thousand hills”, and a woman carrying the harvested coffee.

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

The back of the currency is an illustration from the Rwandan countryside.  Banana trees are shown on the left and lake Kivu and hills are shown on the right.

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

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

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

Watutsi warriors are illustrated on the front of the 1000 franc banknote.

The Coat of arms from independence until the 21st century is on the bottom left.  “Republique Rwandaise – Liberte’ – Cooperation – Progress”.

The Coat of arms was restyled in 2001, after the genocide of the 1990s.

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

The Watutsi, also known as Tutsi, were victimized by the Hutus in the genocide of 1994, but the hostilities went both ways for decades, whereas the animosity was ultimately but a century old.  The Germans appear to have developed the so-called racial distinction between the Tutsi and the Hutu during their brief colonial enterprise, favoring the minority Tutsi for administrative positions.  The distinction appears to have been only a hypothesis as no archaeological, historical nor even linguistic distinctions have been discovered since to support the distinction.  The Belgians relied upon existing the Tutsi administrating structure as they commenced their colonial administration following WWI.  Their rule reinforced the ethnic divide.  In 1931, during the time of the eugenics movement in Europe and the United States, an ethnic identity card was issued for each Rwandan.

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

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

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

Gorillas of Rwanda

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

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

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

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

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

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Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 back, featuring gorillas
Rwanda 1000 francs (1988)
Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1988 front, featuring warriors
Rwanda (1988) 1000 francs banknote
Rwanda 100 Franc 1989 banknote front (2), featuring zebras

Rwanda Zebras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rwanda 100 Francs Banknote, Year 1989 back, featuring volcanoes Karisimbi and Bisoke, and mother with child
Burundi 100 Franc 2011 banknote front (2), featuring Louis Louis Rwagasore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For further readings regarding this remarkable man, see here.

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

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closeup of portrait on of Burundi 500 Franc 1995 banknote front

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burundi 500 Franc Banknote back

Burundi) building, Bujumbura

Rwanda 100 Franc 1993 banknote back (2), featuring Lake Kivu

Rwanda – Lake Kivu, The Exploding Kind

Rwanda 100 Franc Banknote, Year 2003 – Face and Back

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

Okay, good to know.

Um….    WHAT ? ! !!!

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

Rwanda 100 Franc Banknote, Year 2003 back, featuring Lake Kivu
Rwanda banknote, 2003, back
closeup Lake Kivu details of Rwanda 100 Franc Banknote, Year 2003 back
Detail showing Lake Kivu, Rwanda, African Great Lakes region
Burundi 10 Franc 2005 banknote front (2), featuring Burundi coat of arms

Burundi – Unite Travail Progress

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

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

From the Constitution of Burundi:

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

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

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

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

Burundi – Intore Dance

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

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

Burundi 20 Francs Banknote back, featuring Burundi coat of arms

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

Intore Dancers of Burundi
Intore Dancers of Burundi

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

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

Uganda – 5 Shillings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tanzania 500 Shilling banknote front featuring giraffe

Tanzania – 500 Shilingi

Tanzania 500 Shilingi Banknote – Face and Back
Tanzania 500 shilingi banknote back featuring coffee harvest

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.

Tanzania 500 Shilingi banknote front featuring coat of arms and giraffe and zebra

The zebra and giraffe adorn our banknote, and, at center is the coat of arms of Tanzania.

detail from Tanzania 500 shilingi banknote front (3) featuring coat of arms
Tanzania coat of arms

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.