The Republic of Mali, the “place where the king lives” is the eighth-largest country in Africa. It is mostly an arid area, with the country located mostly in the Saharan and Sahelian regions. However, the Niger River flows through the country, supplying it with fertile agricultural soil.
Mali was once part of the three main West African empires—Ghana, Mali, and Songhai— that controlled the trans-Saharan trade. The Islamic center of learning and trade, Timbuktu, was part of Mali. During the scramble for Africa, France seized Mali and made it part of French Sudan, also known as the Sudanese Republic. Senegal and French Sudan united in 1959 and achieved independence in 1960 as the Mali Federation. After Senegal withdrew from the Federation, the Sudanese Republic officially changed its name to the Republic of Mali.
Bank of the Republic of Mali
Mali briefly pulled out of the Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (Central Bank of the West African States) from 1962 to 1983. It established the Bank of the Republic of Mali in 1962 and issued its first series of banknotes.
The first series of notes were printed by the Statni Tiskama Cenin. They featured Modibo Keita, the first president of Mali, in front and different landmarks and tribes at the back. These notes did not have security threads nor watermarks.
For example, this purple 50 Franc note of 1960 was printed in 1960 and introduced in 1962. Its obverse side contains the portrait of President Modibo Keita, the serial numbers, date, signatures of the Minister of State, Minister of Finance, and Bank Governor, the Banque de la Republique du Mali name, and the denomination in French. Its reverse side also contains the denomination in French, the numerical value of the note, and the view of the Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu. It measures 117 mm long and 76 mm wide.
The second series of banknotes issued by the Bank of the Republic featured an updated portrait of President Modibo Keita and yellow security threads and were printed by Thomas De La Rue. Larger denominations like the 500 francs, 1,000 francs, and 5,000 francs also had a watermark of a man’s head. The notes of this series bore the date of independence (September 22, 1960) even though they were introduced to the public in 1967.
Central Bank of Mali
Modibo Keita was ousted from his presidency in 1968. After his impeachment, the Central Bank of Mali was established for the smooth reintroduction of Mali to the Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de L’Ouest.
The notes from the Central Bank use Banque de France as their printer. Unlike earlier notes with one color scheme, these notes were vibrant and colorful. They also didn’t have security threads nor a date. Instead, each note had a serial number and a watermark of a man’s head. The notes highlighted the different ethnic groups in Mali.
For instance, this 100 Franc note features a Tuareg woman, the Niger River, and the Hotel de l’Amitie in Bamako in front. At the back, it features a Bozo woman looking at the longboats used to transport goods along the Niger River. It measures 124 mm long and 80 mm wide.
Mali eventually rejoined the Central Bank of Western African States in 1983, sixteen years after the Central Bank of Mali was established. From then on, the country uses the Western African States franc as its currency.