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