On a 50,000 voyage with the mountain gorillas aka Mazike
This is a serialized write-up of all the major features of the Ugandan currencies. We are looking to see what the touristic features on the notes are and telling that story to the core of each notes.
Journeying with you to all these places displayed on the notes. Hope you caught our first story, then the Shs1000 note and went on to the Shs2000. Did you also see the Shs5,000, the Shs10,000 and Shs20.000 stories before this?
By View Uganda
The mountain gorillas, a treasure bequeathed the pearl of Africa. What makes them a big deal is that Uganda is home to more than 50% of world’s remaining Mountain Gorilla Species. So being the country’s highest denomination, the Shs50.000 note deserves to have the mountain gorilla.
The notes are fondly called Amazike by the urban youth in central Uganda. This is in reference to the Mountain Gorilla, the country’s most prized tourism attraction. Altogether, there are less than 900 of this particular species left, a good number of them stay in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, UNESCO world heritage site.
In other words, it has been certified as a site with outstanding universal value. Found in Southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Albertine rift, this tropical rainforest attraction is estimated to be over 25,000 years. The only other park in Uganda which has Mountain Gorillas is Mghahinga National Park, as found at the borders of Uganda and Rwanda.
To firm their strides in conserving the Mountain Gorillas, government in 1991 gazatted Mgahinga and Bwindi National park, both of which serve as their natural habitats. This has not only reduced on their vulnerability to poaching, but also allowed their population to increase by over 20% over the last two decades.
That is not enough, government and partners have gone ahead top start several conservation initiatives have come up to stop spread of communicable diseases from surrounding communities to them.
We all love peace, right? However, it doesn't come free. You have to fight for it or defend yourself when attacked. This is what shields used to offer to our forefathers, a means of defense against their enemies whenever war was waged at them.
Author of Tribal Crafts of Uganda, Margaret Trowell says that the shields were divided into two main types. Those made of wood and covered in cane, and those made of animal hide. While the former were usually long oval with pointed end and used by tribes in the inter-lacustrine region. The former she says, had a rectangular shape and were used by cattle keeping tribes of northern Uganda, like Acholis, Karamojong and Langi.
This book, one of the first historical books to be written about Uganda maintains that both hand handles fixed behind their boss for a stronger grip. In most cases, the Bantu shields were made of soft wood as they are light and easy to swing in a battle field. On the other hand, the ones of the pastoralists were made of buffalo hide as it is very resilient compared to cow skin.
Historical Monument-Stride monument
It was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II and is believed to be the most expensive monument in Uganda. Its construction cost over 150M. Yes, it was purely built in commemoration of the commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November 2007. Found at the Gardens of Uganda's Parliament, it was constructed by Kann Artists.
Also known as the stride, it celebrates the unity of the Commonwealth countries, as represented by the stride of a nucleus family group. It is made of cooper and stainless steel and, captures the idea of a husband holding a flag (bearing a sunflower) with his wife. In between them is their son, also walking in the same direction with a book in his hand.
The message behind is one of unity. If Ugandans stay united like the commonwealth countries, they will achieve lots of sustainable development. In turn, this will benefit their families.
Awards that the note has won
The Shs50, 000 note was named among three most beautiful currencies in the world in 2013. The ranking which was made by International Bank Note Society (IBNS) was based on the note’s distinctly rich and well-design features. Other features on it include the watermark of the head of a crested crane, an outline of a map of Uganda (highlighting the equator), a man wearing Karimojong head dress, and an indigenous basket.