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.
1993 was a year of new beginnings for the great people of Kyrgyzstan.
The banknotes here were issued May 10, 1993 by the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan. The values are “t y i y n”, one hundred of which constitute a single “s o m”. The som is the basic monetary unit of currency in Kyrgyzstan, divisible into 100 tiyins, just as the American dollar is divisible into 100 cents.
The word som means pure, and implies pure gold. Apparently the meaning of tyiyn is squirrel skin which at one time was used as currency. Coins for circulation were not introduced in Kyrgyzstan until January 2008. Only Belarus, of the former Soviet states, delayed the introduction of coinage later.
These banknotes were issued May 10, 1993. May 5 1993, the first post-Soviet era constitution of Kyrgyzstan was ratified.
Norodom Sihanouk, the artist politician, lived an extraordinary life at the center of power through much of the tumultuous 20th century. Major events include French colonization, WW2 domination by the Japanese, reassertion of French authority following WW2, independence from France, Vietnam War, Khmer Rouge, and then, the 21st century. He left us in 2012 at the age of 90 years old. In Cambodia he is known as Samdech Euv, “Father Prince”
The ancient kingdom of Cambodia had become a French colony by the time Norodom Sihanouk was born, grandson to the contemporary king, in 1922. In WW2 1941, the Japanese took control of Cambodia and, bypassing his father, installed 19 year old Norodom Sihanouk, as king, upon his grandfather’s death. Following WW2, the French sought to reassert their colonial authority in Cambodia and much of Indochina, while Sihanouk sought independence. Independence was achieved in 1953, and in 1955 Sihanouk abdicated the throne and formed a political party. His father ascended to the throne. Upon his father’s death in 1960, Norodom was appointed head of sate, which post he held until the military coup of 1970, during the Vietnam War, which ushered in the US backer Khmer republic.
The 1975 Cambodian civil war brought Pol Pot to power, Norodom back from exile, initially as a supporter. But a year later, in 1976, he resigned and was placed under house arrest until 1979. This was the period of the infamous “killing fields”. When the Vietnamese overthrew the Pol Pot regime in 1979, Norodom went again into exile; and, in 1981, formed a resistance party.
In 1991, peace accords were signed and in 1993 Norodom Sihanouk was reinstated as head of state and king of Cambodia, which he retained until abdication if favor of his son in 2004.
It is said that from 1966 to 2006 he produced at least 50 films, a number of which he also acted in.
The “naga”, the multi-headed serpent which is often the beneficent protagonist in Hindu Mythology; its mortal enemy being the “guardas”, the semidivine birdlike deity.
Nagas are multiheaded. The even number headed naga is said to symbolize the female, physicality, mortality, temporality and the earth; whereas the odd number headed nagas represent the male, infinity, timelessness and immortality.
Portuguese Guinea was a West African colony of Portugal from the late 15th century until 10 September 1974, when it gained independence as Guinea-Bissau. The Glorification of Triumph is celebrated in this beautiful banknote.
The beautiful artwork on the back of this banknote is the allegory named “Apoteose ao Triunfo”, which translates from the Portuguese as, the “Glorification of Triumph”. In the foreground are men and women and children bringing forth in celebration the bounty of the land. And in the background, as if illustrating what is in their minds as they celebrate, are universal images of triumph and glory. In the foreground, the man standing on the right is holding an arade, a classic farming instrument of the region. Everywhere there is bounty. In the lower right there is a chicken and a goat. In the center foreground there are baskets abounding with the tropical fruits of the land. Standing on the right, a woman is holding a basket of fish, while seated on the left, one is pouring a cup of nectar. All the while, musical instruments are being played.
Her husband was the Corregidor of the town of Queretero, a position of some political power. She became La Corregidora of Mexico, a position enshrined in the heart of a grateful nation.
“She”, as reported by a historian to BBC Mundo, “lit the fuse that started the Independence of Mexico.”
“She” is Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, who, living in early 1800s colonial Mexico, grew to despise the way the indigenous peoples were treated by their colonizers. While mothering 14 children as wife to a local politician, she began to attend literary meetings in her town home in which the literature of The Enlightenment was frequently discussed. After a time, she began to host these meetings in her home. And in due time the discussions, attended by educated figures such as Miguel Hidalgo and others, turned towards ideas of independence, and then a movement, and then, finally, plans for a independence.
With an upheaval in the Spanish monarchy, the possibilities of independence seemed more real than ever. The meetings in her home became the center of the developing insurgency. Plans were made and weapons began to become accumulated and cached in the houses of supporters. Plans were set for an uprising on December 10, 1810.
On September 13, it was learned that weapons were being stockpiled. The chief magistrate, the Corregidor, Doña Josefa Ortiz’ husband, was immediately informed and ordered to raid the houses, seize the weapons, and jail the participants. Worried for his wife, he told her of his orders; and, determined to protect her, locked her in a room to prevent her from arrest with the others.
The story is told here, that while locked up, she composed a letter of warning to Father Hidalgo, making it untraceable by pasting together individual letters from newspaper clippings. And then, while still locked in that room, she repeatedly stomped so hard on the floor with her heel, that one came to the door, one to whom she could entrust her letter to Hidalgo.
Hidalgo, receiving this intelligence, moved up the date of the insurgency to the morning of September 16, 1810. Early that morning Father Hidalgo rang the church bell summoning all the common peoples to Mass. There he delivered the impassioned sermon, now known in history as, The Cry of Dolores, in which he urged a rebellion against Spain so that Mexico could be governed by Mexicans.
From here: “There is no scholarly consensus on the exact words Miguel Hidalgo said at the time. The book The Course of Mexican History says “the exact words of this most famous of all Mexican speeches are not known, or, rather, they are reproduced in almost as many variations as there are historians to reproduce them”.
The same book also argues that:
“ …the essential spirit of the message is… ‘My children: a new dispensation comes to us today. Will you receive it? Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen three hundred years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once… Will you defend your religion and your rights as true patriots? Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe! Death to bad government! Death to the Gachupines!’
The date, September 16, 1810, the date of “The Cry of Dolores”, is celebrated in Mexico as Independence Day. It is considered to be the day the independence movement began.
And “that day” was possible, because of La Corregidora.
This image from the back of our banknote is very significant in the story of Mexico.
It has evolved over the centuries; and is reproduced in the nation’s coat of arms, great seal and flag. The coat of arms in 1821, at the first proclamation of independence of Mexico, showed the eagle on the cactus and wearing a crown. Two years later, while our heroine La Corregidora was still with us, the coat of arms was revised. The crown was removed, but the cactus remained; and the eagle now grasped the snake.
The image is reminiscent of the founding story of Mexico City, then named Tenochtitlan. The people of Aztlan, then residing north of contemporary Mexico, were directed to travel southward to find a new land. They were to look for an eagle perched upon a cactus and clutching a snake. This would indicate the place for the founding of a powerful empire. After years of traveling, place to place, during which they learned from other cultures, they arrived at Lake Texcoco. In the distance, in the middle of the lake, they saw an eagle, perched upon a cactus, devouring a snake. They had arrived. The Aztec empire flourished from that location.
Lifting the flag of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front.
The image has become a national symbol, and is now included on Eritrean currency. An interview with the photographer can be found here.
The EPLF has been noted for its egalitarian approach. 30% of its constituent fighters were women, which significantly affected the traditionally conservative paternalistic outlook of the nation.
The EPLF captured numerous Ethiopian soldiers in battle. But in contrast to the way the Ethiopians treated their captured, the EPLF did not mistreat them. The taught them the principles of the EPLF. They instructed them in world politics. They trained many of them in crafts and trades.
Eritrea consists of nine nationalities. Tigre, Tigrigna, Saho, Afar, Kunama, Nara, Bilin, Hidarb, and Rashaida. More information on this can be found on the Eritrean website here.
These nationalities are depicted in the banknotes in a series of tryptich portraits, that is, three-paneled illustrations such as in many of the classics. The artist who designed these banknotes is Mr. Clarence Holbert, the first African American to design an African banknote. He passed away January 9, 2018. His memorial was reverently attended by representatives of Eritrea, and can be read about here.
The reverse of the currencies reflect scenes from Eritrean life. As recalled by Mr. Holbert, the currency “features the everyday people of Eritrea because Eritrean President Isaias had given specific instructions that money not feature cabinet or government officials or their relatives.”
The Nakfa region, inhabited since ancient times, came under Italian control in 1890. Italy lost control during WW2, and Eritrea was “awarded” to Ethiopia as a part of a federation in 1952. In the 1960s, Ethiopia annexed Eritrea as a province. This instigated the independence movement. In 1977, the Eritrea Liberation Front laid siege to Nakfa, and, took it in their first major victory. Eight subsequent attempts at recapture failed, during which much of the above-ground town was destroyed, and during which also, the Eritreans developed an significant underground facilities. Independence was secured in 1991.
“Nakfa” is now the name of Eritrea’s currency. It is taken from the town which had become the main base of the Eritrean independence movement. Nakfa is famous for its extensive underground entrenchments developed in the time of the resistance. Included are hospitals, printing presses, a radio station, college and factories, in addition to rings of trenches and minefields.
The following paragraph is from this blog post with this photo of the Nakfa territory. A special test for tourists is also the sites of the liberation struggle situated in bleak mountains of the Sahel, northern angle of Eritrea. Hence one must be willing to enjoy the arduous journey across the rough terrain mountains to visit these miraculous EPLF defenses, trenches, bunkers of Nakfa, Himbol and the Roras Plateaus, and the Denden terrains.