A beautiful land locked country of South Eastern Africa, dominated by Lake Malawi, sometimes called the Calendar lake, being 365 miles long and 52 miles wide. The Shire River flows from the southern end of the lake. The Country in populated by baobab trees, elephants and many other wonderful beings.
The territory of Malawi was formerly known as Nyasaland when it was a British protectorate in the first hald of the 20th century.
The Federation of Rhodesian and Nyasaland incorprated the land for the final decade before independence. On July 6, 1964, that federation was dissolved; and Nyasaland became known as Malawai, free and independent.
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.
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.