Post-Colonial Coins, Independent East Africa: 5 Senti (Tanzania, 1966)-Article

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

This coin is a Tanzanian 5 Senti (cent), dated 1966. The 5 Senti represented the lowest denomination of the Tanzanian Shilingi (Schilling). On 14 June 1966, the Tanzanian Shilingi replaced the East African Shilling, on equal parity. The East African Shilling was a form of universal currency, that was used throughout British East Africa and British South Arabia.

The Tanzanian 5 Senti entered circulation in 1966 and was last issued in 1984. It was succeeded by 5 and 10 cent (post-colonial) equivalents, minted in 1964. They were discontinued due to rapid inflation, causing their use to become irrelevant. The coin utilizes an unusual dodecagonal (12-sided) shape, with a plain-edged design. The coin is made of bronze (95.5% copper/3% tin/1.5% zinc) and weighs 2g. The coin's diameter is 23.24mm (1.26in) and 1.33 mm (0.052) thick.


The observe features a portrait of Julius Kambarage Nyerere (1922-1999), in left profile. Julius Kambarage Nyerere was the first president of independent Tanzania. Prior to becoming President, Nyerere was a non-violent anti-colonial activist. Inspired by the works of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

Above is the text “Tanzania 1966”, confirming the coin as a first minting. Below is text in Kiswahili (Swahili), the national language of Tanzania and used throughout much of East Africa. It reads “RAIS WA KWANZA”, which translates to first president. The text is separated by 4 branches with flowers, this may be cashew flowers. Cashews are one of the 6 cash crops of Tanzania.

Both sides of the coin were engraved by English painter Christopher Ironside (1913-1992): FSIA 1970, OBE 1971, FRBS 1977. Christopher Ironside engraved the original Tanzanian Shilingi coin series. In additional to numerous “post-decimalization” coins for former colonies and commonwealths.


The reverse's center features a leaping Indo Pacific Sailfish, a large sport's fish found of the East African coast. The sailfish is flanked by the text “SENTI” and “TANO”, Swahili for five cents. Below is a number “5”, further reinforcing the coin's 5 Senti value.

Size Comparison

A 5 Senti with a US Quarter for comparison.

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