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Article#0009        Date: 3 July 2006             Country: Botswana

Do we need their faces anymore?

6/16/2006 4:56:26 PM (GMT +2)

The Bank of Botswana (BoB) has announced plans to withdraw P1, P2 and P5 notes from circulation with effect from 1 July 2006 after the introduction of coin equivalents. BoB say this is necessitated by the high use of the three denomination banknotes, which tended to shorten their lifespan, resulting in frequent replenishment at significant cost. Following the announcement, Mmegi Staffer, BAME PIET revisits the issue of portraits on the national currency.

In the 1980s, following the death of Botswana's first president Sir Seretse Khama, there was a spirited campaign to block the replacement of his portrait in the country's currency with that of his successor Sir Ketumile Masire. As it came to pass, the campaign led from the Ga-Mmangwato heartland caved in and Masire's portrait was engraved on the currency. Then came the turn for Masire's successor, Festus Mogae to get his portrait on the currency. There was opposition though subdued. The entry of the three Batswana chiefs who sought the protection of the British Queen for the country at the close of the 19th century, and later that of the revered educationist and composer of the national anthem, Kgalemang Motsete were also met with little resistance. Money is a powerful tool that each country bestows its pride upon. It is the most circulating object around the world. Through bank notes and coins, a country can display its wealth, history, natural heritage, and culture. Botswana is no exception and for many years, the country has displayed its wildlife species on the coins and bank notes. On one side of a bank note there is the face of a reigning president, while on the other side, wild animals are displayed. With coins, one side displays the Coat of Arms, while the other has species of wild animals found in Botswana. Interviews conducted by Mmegi indicate that the people feel bank notes should not display a president's head. Some people prefer wild animals on bank notes than the president's portrait. The rationale is that animals do not change while presidents die or leave office necessitating the minting of new currency. Some people feel that putting the portrait of the president on the currency might encourage tribalism. This is because the president's tribe may feel superior because his portrait is on the currency. Kebafhe Pena of Ntsweng Ward in Kanye says that it would be good to put Botswana wildlife species on the currency and move away from using presidents. "Sometimes you find that you dislike a certain president, current or past, and the more you see his/her face on money, the more you dislike them. Again, presidents change from time to time so it is better to display wild animals on our money," she says. She feels that the current bank notes are not attractive and should be replaced. Ednah Rowland of Bome Ward of the same village shares the same sentiments. However, she suggested that the three chiefs who went to Britain to seek protection and whose portraits appear in the P100 note should remain on the currency. Motlhokomedi Gaotshoge of Moloko Ward feels that any changes in what appears in the currency will be welcome but the three chiefs should continue to be used in the P100 as they played an important role in the history of Botswana. The 78-year-old man suggests that the portrait of the reigning president can be put on the currency. Goretetse Moremong of Yoo Dijo Ward in Molepolole feels that presidents' portraits should be put on bank notes because they are leaders and this is one way of respecting them. He said it does not matter how many times presidents change, their portraits deserve to be put on the currency especially notes because wild animals are already displayed on coins.Tshidiso Tshipa of Serowe strongly feels that the current practice is best and should be maintained. She says that people want to see their president every day. She said another option that can be considered is the use of wild animals. Edward Ramatlopi and Kefilwe Phage of Molepolole and Ramotswa respectively say that they have no problem with any changes. "I will still use the money to buy from the shops whether or not it bears the face of a president," Ramatlopi says.

Original Article: http://www.mmegi.bw/2006/June/Friday16/36819556729.html

Page created:     3 July 2006
Last Update:      3 July 2006

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