The Smoke That Thunders: 100 Kwacha (Zambia, 1991)-Article

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

This Zambian banknote represents the 6th denomination of 6th Emission First Kwacha (2nd of 1991 Sub-Series). The term "kwacha" means "dawn" in the Nyanja, Bemba, and Tonga languages. An allusion to the Zambian nationalist phase, a ""new dawn of freedom". Which is held in remembrance for Zambia's 24 October 1964 independence, from the British Empire. This same sentiment was represented in the Kwacha's sub-division, the "ngwee" or "bright".

The vast majority of First Kwacha notes were created by world-renown printer De La Rue London. With a very brief exception of two denominations, printed in 1974. These rare banknote were the Bradbury Wilkinson & Co printed 10 and 20 Kwacha. Its highly advisable to collect those banknotes if given the opportunity. They can be recognized by their lack of framing, giving them an unfinished appurtenance, Although in general, collecting De La Rue printed Kwacha has it's own reward. As they are particularly accessible new collector and aspiring completionist.

Due to high inflation throughout the Zambian Kwacha's history, the Frist Kwacha has been retired. The New Kwacha was proposed by the Bank of Zambia, in 23 December 2012. The New Kwacha is a redenominated variation of the First Kwacha. Sharing many of the previous Kwacha's aesthetics, with some exceptions. Most notably the usual portraits of 1st President Kenneth Kaunda, have been replaced by a African Fish Eagle. By 30 June 2013, the transition to the New Kwacha was declared complete.


The observe features a portrait of Kenneth Kaunda (1924-20??), the first President of Zambia. Opposite of Kaunda is an African Fish Eagle, the national symbol of Zambia. At the note's center is a Coconut Palm grove, below is the Zambian Coat of Arms.

The note's "One Hundred Kwacha" value is listed on the observe 4 times. Once in English text, at the note's center. And 3 additional times on the upper corners and lower right corner, expressed as "K100". Each instance of "K100", is backed by a unique guilloché background.

The upper right guilloché pattern and footer are linked by 6 lines, with a double fold. The second fold is obscured by the fish eagle's right wing. Above the eagle is a watermark area, to the left is a red vertical serial number. At the note's center right (roughly opposite of the serial number) is a windowed security strip.

To the far right is the positive of the note's registration element/light puzzle. The registration element is a hand bearing a torch, signifying a brighter future. The note's underprint features this same pattern, throughout its surface.

When viewed under ultraviolet light, turning the note into a rich blue. This causes 2 gray stamps, to glow bright florescent green. These stamps are slightly offset below the note's upper "K100"s. There is a hidden florescent green "100" below "Zambia", it's last "0" aligns with the security strip. This security strip shines a slightly different blue, with dark blue undertones. The serial number shines a bright orange. (See: Ultraviolet Gallery)


The Reverse features a rainbow across Victoria Falls, the world largest waterfall. To the note's left is a depiction of an African man breaking his chains. This scene has been immortalized by the famous "Freedom Statue" at Independence Avenue, in Lusaka (Zambia's capital). To the lower left is a Cape Buffalo Bull.

The note's "One Hundred Kwacha" is listed on the reverse 4 times. Once in English text, along the reverse's footer. And 3 times on the upper corners and lower right corner, expressed as "K100". Each instance of "K100", is backed by a unique guilloché background. The upper right and lower guilloché patterns are linked by 9 lines, with a single fold.

To the far left is a multicolor "flower" guilloché pattern, at its center is the negative for the observe's "hand and torch" registration element/light puzzle. This guilloché pattern serves as the starting point for waterfall's "rainbow". To the reverse's far right is a watermark area. The watermark depicts a smiling portrait of Kenneth Kaunda. (See photo below.)

The Smoke That Thunders

Victoria Falls is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, "The Smoke That Thunders", by the Lozi people of Southern Zambia. The massive falls are 1,708 m (5,604 ft) across and are home to a wide variety of wild life. Featuring 35 species of raptors, including Zambia's national symbol the African Fish Eagle.

While neither the highest or widest waterfall, Victoria Falls is considered the largest. Due to a mixture of its impressive width and 108 meter (354 ft) height. At it's highest recorded flow, the falls discharged an estimated 12,800 cubic meters (452,000 cubic feet) of water per second. Nearly twice that of Niagara Falls, which was recorded at 6,800 cubic meters (240,000 cubic feet) per second.

The falls are fed by the powerful 2,574 km (1,599 mi) long Zambezi River. The largest river flowing from Africa to the Indian Ocean. The river's headwaters are fed by dambo marshlands, deep within the African interior. Resting near the border of Zambia and Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire). Additional swamplands and tributaries empty along the Zambezi's path, further strengthening it. The Zambezi finally ends its long journey at the Zambezi Delta, in Mozambique.

Down stream from Victoria Falls is the Kariba Dam, which provides hydroelectric power to both Zambia and neighboring Zimbabwe. Prior to the filling of the dam's reservoir (Kariba Reservoir), the region's indigenous people served as guides, for curious foreign explorers and traders. The Kariba dam's construction lead to the displacement, of an estimated 57,000 indigenous Tonga people.

Victoria Falls received its current English name from British explorer David Livingstone (1813-1873), who visited the falls in 1855. In which, he claimed to be the first European to seen the falls. Livingstone, who previously visited Ngonye Falls further upstream. Found the (Victoria) falls more impressive, inspiring him to name it after (then ruling) British Queen Victoria (1819-1901).

That said, maps created in 1715, by French geographer Nicolas de Fer (1646-1720), correctly mark the falls location. In addition, to the indigenous trade routes Livingstone used on his journey, over a century later. Prior to the Livingstone's official documentation, the falls were also visited by Boer Voortreker (Dutch pioneers) hunters. Who began exploring the southern African interior (post-1836), in their efforts to escape British rule.

Victoria Falls Today

Today the area surrounding Victoria Falls, is now dedicated to a number of nature reserves, with restricted hunting. Both sides of the falls (Zambian and Zimbabwean) host a small nature reserve, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (Zambia) and Victoria Falls National Park (Zimbabwe). Which cover 66 sq km (41 sq mi) and 23 sq km (14.2 sq mi) respectively.

Downstream (on the Zimbabwean side) is the Zambezi National Park, which covers 40 sq km (25 sq mi). Animals crossing the river into Zambezi National Park, can access neighboring parks, within Zimbabwe. These are the Kazuma Pan National Park at 313 sq km (195 sq mi), and the substantially larger Hwange National Park. The Hwange National Park covers an astounding area of 14,651 sq km (9,103 sq mi). Easily making Hwange National Park the largest nature reserve, in Zimbabwe.

The Victoria Falls riverside wildlife includes River Hippopotamus, Nile Crocodiles, and African Clawless Otters. The river past the falls rests in a series of winding gorges and is overlooked by cliffs. These cliffsides host populations of Taita Falcons, Peregrine Falcons, Augur Buzzards, and the famous African Fish Eagle. Which catches passing fish, swooping down from their nests and rocky perches.

Interestingly the river below the falls supports 39 species of fish. While to the river above the falls, supports at least 84 species. This for the most part is due to a natural occurrence in some water falls. A hidden ledge along the fall's end, is partially exposed during months of low flows. Thus causing a certain degree of water to continuously backflow. Allowing certain species of fish to fight against the falls current and avoid falling over.

This natural backflow is also used by tourist visiting the famous "Devil's Pool". Where adventurous visitors, arriving between September and December. Swim in relative safety, along the falls edge. With the slight risk of being cast over, into the fall's plunge pool.

The land surrounding the waterfall plunge pool is masked in a massive cloud of mist. This mist often referred by indigenous people as "smoke" and is vital for supporting a rainforest growing beneath the falls. The rainforest supports a number of rare regional plant species. Such as Batoko Plum, Wild Date Palm, and African Ebony.

In addition to being the preferred home for populations of Vervet Monkeys, Chacma /Yellow Baboons, and African Leopards. Which freely alternate between the rainforest and the neighboring wooded savanna. In their effort escape sun's oppressive heat and search for food.

The savanna is home to an abundant number of impressive species. Such as African Bush Elephants, Cape Buffalos (featured on note's reverse), Grant's Zebras, Angolan Giraffes, African Lions and the occasional Southeast African cheetahs. All of which visit the river, as their primary source of water. As well as a means of migrating between Zambia's and Zimbabwe's nature reserves.

Ultraviolet Gallery

Size Comparison

Additional Notes

  • This note's dimensions are 140 × 67 mm or 5.51 x 2.64 in, shorter than a US Dollar.

  • The note's height is slightly larger than US Dollar, standard note protectors won't cover it.

  • It's advisable to use large note protectors, when preserving this banknote.

  • Notably the famous Freedom Statue was modeled on activist Zanco Mpundu Mutembo.

  • On Independence Day (24th October) wreaths are laid, at the Freedom Statue.

  • The symbol of a hand bearing a torch, was also used by Zambia's neighbor Zaire (Congo).

  • Cape Buffalo bulls are extremely powerful, weighing up 910 kg (2,010 lb).

  • In 1860, Livingstone returned to Victoria Falls, with naturalist Sir John Kirk (1832-1922).

  • Sir John Kirk was among the first to documented the fall's wildlife and indigenous people.

  • The Tongan know the falls as Shungu Namutitima, "Boiling Water".

  • Increasing regional temperatures threaten Victoria Falls famous mist cloud.

  • Tourist visiting the falls will often purchase special KAZA visas, estimated to cost US $50.

  • KAZA holders are grated travel between Zambia and Zimbabwe, thus both the falls sides.

  • KAZA visa holders can be granted up to 30 days travel, between the 2 nations.

  • The Devil's pool is accessible from the western tip of Livingstone Island (Zimbabwe).

  • On rare occasions tourist have been swept from the "Devil's Pool".

  • While not all First Zambian Kwacha list their printer, nearly all are printed by De La Rue.

23 views0 comments