The “Warm Heart of Africa”, Malawi is a landlocked country found in between Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. The name Malawi comes from the old name of the Chewa people, the Maravi. Though it has achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, it remains one of the least developed countries in the world. Its economy mainly relies on subsistence farming and agriculture.

Map of Malawi
Source: AS

Currency In Malawi

The Malawi kwacha (MWK) is the national currency. One kwacha is equivalent to 100 tambala. The tambala is also the Chichewa word for “rooster”, while the kwacha is Chichewa for “it has dawned”. It is said that a hundred roosters announce the dawn. The Malawi kwacha replaced the pound at a rate of 2 kwacha per pound.

Malawi 5 Shillings | 1964 | P-1 |
Source: Banknote World Educational

The Reserve Bank of Malawi was established in 1964. The bank replaced and assumed the central bank responsibilities of the Federal Bank of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Early kwacha notes featured the portrait of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who was the president of Malawi from 1964 to 1994, on the front side of the notes. The reverse side of the notes featured different agricultural scenes, highlighting the importance of the agricultural sector and industry to Malawi’s economy. Also, during Dr Banda’s rule, all banknotes had a rooster watermark, the symbol of Banda’s Malawi Congress Party.

The blue and brown 10 kwacha note of 1990 is part of the first series of notes to use novel serial numbers and a rooster registration device. Its obverse side shows a man poling through Lake Malawi on a dugout canoe and the portrait of President Hastings Banda. Its reverse side shows the Capitol Building in Lilongwe. It is also part of the last series of notes to exclusively feature President Hastings Banda.

Malawi 10 Kwacha | 1990 | P-25a |
Source: Banknote World Educational

Early Banknotes

 When President Hastings Banda was ousted in 1995, Elson Bakili Muluzi succeeded his presidency. The Reserve Bank of Malawi released a new series of banknotes. The 1995 series of banknotes featured the portrait of President Elson Bakili Muluzi, replaced the rooster with a fish registration device, and was the first to use windowed security threads and optically-variable ink sunburst.

The blue 10 kwacha note is part of the 1995 series of banknotes. Its obverse side features a crowned crane bird, the OVI sunburst, the fisherman poling through Lake Malawi, and a portrait of President Bakili Muluzi. Its reverse side still features the Capitol building in Lilongwe. Also the note has a windowed security thread and a fish watermark.

The Chilembwe series begins to circulate in 1997. Instead of the current president’s portrait, this series of notes featured the portrait of Reverend John Chilembwe, an orthodox Baptist educator and revolutionary. Many see John Chilembwe as a hero of independence.

Malawi 50 Kwacha Banknote, 2015, P-64b, UNC
Source: Banknote World

Modern Series

In 2012, the Reserve Bank of Malawi issued a new family of banknotes. For example the themes of the new family are the long term objectives of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy: sustainable economic growth, social development, infrastructure development, and good governance. Instead of highlighting one portrait of a person, the notes feature different heroes and distinguished Malawi people on the obverse side. Also, the reverse side of the notes also highlight other sectors, like tourism and infrastructure.

The red and orange 100 kwacha note begin to circulate in 2015. Its obverse side contains a depiction of fishermen on a boat, the Reserve Bank of Malawi headquarters building in Lilowe, and James Frederick Sangala. Also the reverse side of the note highlight the medical field by showcasing the College of Medicine in Blantyre and a stethoscope. Unlike earlier banknotes, the registration device of the note is the national map.

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