Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Earth, Eastern Africa, Uganda

Uganda

 

Uganda 5

The Ugandan Coat of Arms features prominently on the front of our 5 shilling banknote.

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 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 is the crested crane, also the national bird of Uganda.  On the right 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 shillings

The reverse of our 5 shillings banknote features a woman harvesting a rich crop of coffee beans,

 

Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Burundi, Earth, Eastern Africa

Burundi – Intore Dance

Burundi

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

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

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

Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Burundi, Earth, Eastern Africa

Burundi – Unite Travail Progress

 

Burundi

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

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.

Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Eastern Africa, Rwanda

Rwanda – Lake Kivu, the Exploding Kind

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 banknote, 2003, back. Lake Kiva is pictured on the back of this 2003 Rwandan banknote.
Detail showing Lake Kivu, Rwanda, African Great Lakes region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Burundi, Eastern Africa

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Burundi) building, Bujumbura

Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Burundi, Eastern Africa

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

 

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.

 

Banknote of Burundi, front. The tomb of Louis Rwagasore is illustrated on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

Banknote of Burundi, back, illustrating the building of a house in Burundi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Eastern Africa, Rwanda

Rwanda Zebras

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 (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. 

 

 

 

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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Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Eastern Africa, Rwanda

Gorillas of Rwanda

Eastern Gorillas, detail from Rwanda (1988) 1000 franc banknote

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.      

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 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.

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Rwanda 1000 francs (1988)

 

Rwanda (1988) 1000 francs banknote
Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Eastern Africa, Rwanda

Rwanda 1980s francs

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 (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.

 

 

Rwanda 5000 francs 1988 reverse (2)
detail from the back of Rwanda (1988) 5000 franc banknote

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

 

 

 

Rwanda (1988) 1000 francs, front

 

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.

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 (1988) 1000 francs, back

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

 

 

 

 

detail showing Eastern Gorillas on back of Rwanda (1988) 1000 francs banknote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

detail of Zebra on back of Rwanda 100 franc banknote (1989)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rwanda (1989) 1000 francs, back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rwanda (1989) 100 francs, front