Africa, Earth, Malawi, Southern Africa

Malawi – Rose Chibambo

 

Malawi

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.

Malawi

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.

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

Laos – Culture (2003, 1000 kips)

Laos, Laotian Ethnic Groups Women: Lao Lum, Lao Sung and Lao Theung, Pha That Luang pagoda in Vientiane.

Traditionally there are three ethnic groups of Laotians, and they are illustrated beautifully on our banknote by these three ladies.   The Lao Soung, or Lao Sung, are the highland dwelling peoples constituting about 10% of the populace.  The Lao Theung, or Lao Thoeng, indicates the midland Lao peoples and represents about 25% of the populace.  The Lao Lum, or Lao, are the majority ethinc group, representing about 50% of the populace.

Over the left shoulder of our three ladies is the Pha That Luang pagoda.  Regarded as dating from the 3rd century, that is almost 2000 years old, this is the most significant pagoda in Laos.  It is rumored to contain the breastbone of the Buddha himself. It is said that the architecture contains numerous references to Laotian culture which has furthered its significance as an icon of Laotian nationalism.  It is said that the three levels of the pagoda each reflect a dimension of Buddhist doctrine.

Laos, Cattle, Power lines, Elephant, Deity
Laos, National Emblem

The National Emblem adorns the front of our banknote and is illustrated her.  The Pha That Luang Pagoda is at center top.  Left center is the modern empowering hydroelectric dam while right center is the forest on the traditional paddy field; the road forward is between the two.  The name of the state is inscribed below the one-half gear wheel on the bottom,
Fully ripened rice stalks encircle the whole, each wrapped, and inscribed between them, with the five words of the Laotian Motto: Peace, Independence, Democracy, Unity, Prosperity”.

 

Mexico, North America

Mexico – She Puts Her Foot Down, and Starts The Revolution

La Corregidora, detail from front of banknote of Mexico

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.

 

Africa, Eastern Africa, Eritrea, Horn of Africa

Eritrea – Nakfa

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.”

A scene from pre-independence school in the bush, education beneath the trees. The artist is African American Charles Holbert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Additional reference here.

For more stories from Africa on this website, click here.

For tags from this website, see below.

 

 

Caribbean Sea, Haiti, Island Nations

Haiti – The First Flag

 

Flag of France

The famous Tricolor of France.  The blue symbolizes Liberty.  The White Symbolizes Equality.  The Red symbolizes Fraternity.  Long may it wave.

And yet…..

One might imagine Dessalines, a leader in the Haitian revolution against the French, the first slave revolt of the New World that would lead to an independent nation, looking upon that flag as the tide turned in Haiti’s favor at the beginning of the 19th century.  “White”, he’d sneer. “Equalty”, he’d spit.

The story goes that Dessalines, ripped apart the French tricolor, the blue from the white, and the red from the white, throwing away the white, and leaving the remainder.

Catherine Flon, his goddaughter, a skilled nurse, and very active in the revolution, took the remaining red and blue, and sewed them together to create the original Flag of Haiti.

 

Haiti
France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean Sea, Haiti, Island Nations

Haiti – The Tigress of Haiti

Haiti bicentennial banknote, 1804-2004, featuring Santite Belair on the front.

“Long live Liberty, Down with Slavery”, were the last words of Suzanne Belair.

Well, did a contemporary Haitian leader name her The Tigress.

 

Detail from front of Haiti bicentennial banknote
Detail from front of Haiti bicentennial banknote.

Not quietly uttered, not in hushed tones, but shouted in the face of the French firing squad.  Sanite Belair faced the squad and refused a blindfold.

The witnessing townspeople, who the French hoped would be intimidated into submission at the sight of this woman’s execution, instead were fired up and continued the resistance.

Suzanne died in late 1802, and the French soon abandoned the Western Hemisphere entirely.

Suzanne was born around 1781.  She was born a free black woman, which afforded her a status better than the black slaves and worse than free whites.  But she despised slavery, joined the cause and married brigade commander Charles Belair, the nephew of the great Haitian freedom fighter Touissant  Louverture.  Together they instigated the uprising at L’Artibonite, which became one of the great battles of the Haitian Independence War.

Back side of Haiti bicentennial banknote, 1804-2004.
Europe, Italy, Mediterranean Europe

Italy – Maria Montessori – The Magnificent

Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society. – Maria Montessori, Education for a New World