Asia, Earth, Laos, Mainland Southeast Asia - Indochina, Southeast Asia

Laos – Kaysone Phomvihane

 

Laos, 2000 kip banknote, 2011, President Kaysone Phomevihane, Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang, Laos

Kaysone Phomvihane, featured on the front of our banknote, has been prominent in Laotian politics for the latter half of the 20th century, during the demise of French colonialism and the development of institutions of independence.  From 1955 until his death in 1992, he led the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.  From 1975 to 1991 he served as the Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.  From 1991 to 1992, the year of his death, he served as President of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.  He is remembered by the 2011 banknote.

Over his shoulder can be seen the illustration of the Wat Xieng Thong, the Temple of the Golden City.  This monastery is major monument to Laotian art and religion and royalty.  The structure, doors, ceilings, walls depict scenes from the Buddha’s life, symbols of Buddhist law and the circle of reincarnation, legends of Laos, the tree of life and many other important symbols and scenes.

Above and right of the Wat is the national emblem.  Details of the emblem can be seen in this website here.

Laos, 2000 kip banknote, 2011, Hydroelectric Complex in Xeset, Laos

The hydroelectric power plant in Xeset leverages the mountainous terrain and heavy annual rainfall of Laos.  This plant was commissioned in the 1991 with an installed capacity of 20 megawatts.

Laos is classified as a Least Developed Country by the UN.  The LDC classification is based upon a reevaluation every three years of the following three criteria: Poverty, Economic Vulnerability, and Human Resource Weakness.  Most Laotians live in the countryside and approximately 1/3 of the population has no access to electricity.  The geography of the country is considered to present significant hydroelectric power potential.  It is 80% hills and mountains, dominated by the Mekong River and its tributaries, and swept by monsoon rains from both sides of the Indochina peninsula.  The development of hydroelectric power is seen as a pathway for the improvement of the lives of Laotians.  It will enhance the lives of the people and also provide income through the export of power to neighboring nations.

Asia, Nepal, Southern Asia

Nepal – King Birendra

King Birendra Bir Bikram is featured on the front of this banknote of Nepal, wearing a plumed crown.  Described from his youth as extraordinarily kind and emotional, he was a firm advocate of democracy for his people, the people of Nepal.  He was King in Nepal from 1972 until 2001, when he died.

Centered on the front of the banknote is the Bajrayogini Temple near Sankhu and Kathmandu.

 

Nepal banknote, 2 rupees, front
Nepal banknote, 2 rupees, back

 

Detail from back of Nepal banknote, 2 rupees.

 

 

 

Detail from back of Nepal banknote, 2 rupees.

From Wikipedia: Before 28 May 2008, the modern emblem was preceded by a coat of arms, generally consisting of a white cow, a green [pheasant] (Himalayan monal), two [Gurkha] soldiers (one carrying a [kukri] and a bow, and the other a rifle), peaks of the [Himalayas], two crossed Nepalese flags and kukris, the footprints of [Gorakhnath] (the guardian deity of the Gurkhas) and the royal headress. It also contained the same red scroll with the national motto.
The emblem of Nepal was changed during the reconciliation period following the Nepalese Civil War. On 28 May 2008, a new emblem in the style of socialist heraldry was introduced. It contains the flag of Nepal, Mount Everest, green hills symbolising the hilly regions of Nepal and yellow colour symbolising the fertile Terai region, male and female hands joining to symbolise gender equality, and a garland of Rhododendron (the national flower). Atop this is a white silhouette in the shape of Nepal.

 

The elements of this intriguingly dense National Coat of Arms are many, and include the following:

Coat of Arms of Nepal from 1962-2008

One Plumed Crown

Two feet

Two crossed Flags

Two crossed knives

One Mountain peak flanked by personalized moon and personalized sun

White cow and a pheasant

Six Hibiscus flowers

Two citizens, one with a rifle and one with a bow

One Inscribed scarlet banner in snaskrit, the English interpretation being: Mother and Motherland are greater than heaven.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more stories from the African Great Lakes Region in this website, click here.

 

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