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Notes From The Forgotten Heart Of Africa, The Bank Of Yesterday: 500 New Zaire (Zaire, 1994)-Article

This Zairean banknote represents the 4th denomination of the New Zaire (Series 1994-96). Due to rampant inflation the New Zaire replaced the previous First Zaire Series, in 1993. The New Zaire was the currency of the Republic of Zaire, until July 1, 1998. Although it to fell into hyperinflation, leading to Zaire's eventual collapse.

Every one of the New Zaire's 25 banknotes, bears an image of Zaire's authoritarian leader Marshall Mobutu Sese Seko. After his overthrow on 16 May 1997, Mobutu's image was often cut out. This makes completing a full collection, a fairly impressive feat.

The New Zaire was replaced by the Second Congolese Franc.


The observe depicts Marshall Mobutu (1930-1997), to his left is a leaping Leopard. This is both a reference to the nation symbol and Mobutu's nickname, the "Leopard of Zaire". Due to his fierceness as a leader and his iconic Leopard skin hat. Which often wore with an abacost, during state visits and formal events. He promoted the style during his 1960s-70s authenticité (authentic) program.

The French language header reads, (trans.) "Bank of Zaire". While the subtext list the note's "Five Hundred New Zaire" value. At the center is a large number "500" and the note's 15 February 1994 print date. The note's value is repeated on upper-right corner, as "500 NZ". Opposite is one of the note's dual-serial numbers (XA 5299586 H), the second is on the lower-right.

At the note's left is the watermark area. The upper section features a decorative design, with the beforementioned serial number overprinted on it. At the center is the signature of the Bank Governor (Le Gouverneur). While the lower features a registration element, partially based on the Bank of Zaire logo. Backlighting the note with bright light completes the light puzzle effect.

The remainder of the observe features an underprint, of various overlapping guilloche patterns. Additionally the there is a window security strip, it aligns with the letter "A", in "Banque Du Zaire". This strip and the upper-left design features micro text, repeating "Banque Du Zaire", in sequence.


The reverse depict a sky view of the Bank of Zaire building, in Kinshasa. While the nation of Zaire has ceased to exist. It has found new life as the Central Bank of the Congo. The bank has since continued to experience many of the issues of the previous government. While inflation is high, its has not reached the levels experience by Zaire. As efforts have been made to reform the previous system.

Below the bank reads, (trans.) "Bank of Zaire". To its right is an unusual design, made of numerous overlapping guilloche patterns. At its base is a number "500", representing the note's beforementioned 500 New Zaire value. Toward the upper-right is a large number 500, in a false 3D style. It rest halfway on an modernist style geometric border.

To the right is the note's watermark area. At its top is a counterfeit warning, it reads, (trans.) "(c)ounterfeiting is punished with penal servitude". At the unprinted center is a Marshall Mobutu watermark, it can be viewed by backlighting. While lower section features a Bank of Zaire logo. Which also serves as the positive, for the observe side registration element.

The footer lists the note's printer as "Hôtel des Monnaies - Zaïre". Although allegedly notes with an "X" prefixed serial number, were printed by the "Casa de Moneda-Argentina". In an apparent non-authorized issue.


Additional Notes

  • This note's dimensions are 158 x 79 mm or 6.22 x 3.11 in, larger than a US Dollar.

  • The preferable method to preserve this note are standard sized protective sleeves.

  • The New Zaire ISO code was ZRN, it used both Ƶ. and Z as symbols.

  • The New Zaire was subdivided into 100 Makuta, it lacked coins entirely.

  • Likuta is the Kongo word for a single Makuta, 100 Makuta equals 1 Zaire.

  • The abacost was a distinct Zaire alternative to the Western style business suit.

  • Zaire was a former Belgian colony, who's schools promoted the French language.

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