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