Currency is a reflection of culture, and culture helps to reflect the values of the country. As far as Mozambique is concerned, it has an expansive history and cultural variety from Makua to Changana. However, Mozambique tends to be a country looking toward the future, and this future thinking is shown in their money. With only one person on all the bills and a concentration of animals on all of the currency, Mozambique does not want to reflect on the violent history of the revolution or the civil war.
The man on the money: Samora Moisés Machel. The first of the few presidents since the time of the war. His claim to fame began when he expelled the Portuguese from Mozambique to relieve the country from colonization and oppression. Although Mozambique dropped to one of the poorest country in the world under his reign, he is revered as a hero in the hearts of many Mozambicans.
The 20 MT ($0.57) is the smallest bill on the Mozambican market. On the back sits a picture of a rhino. However, the rinho is now ironic; with the last rhino in Mozambique killed in 2013, this current photo reflects a better time.
Disclaimer: This was not the original purpose of the picture. The currency came out in 2006 when there were still rhinos.
The animal represented on the 50 MT ($1.43) banknote is the kudus. The kudu is similar to an antelope and roams around Mozambique. Traditionally the horns of the animal have been used to make a musical instrument. This instrument has inspired any other types of noise makers. More recently it has inspired the vuvuzela; the vuvuzela was the noise maker during the South African World Cup that continually was blaring.
Giraffes! Giraffes are represented on the 100 MT ($2.86) banknote and are all around Mozambique. Well maybe not roaming in my back yard, but if you really want to find a giraffe, you can go out into the middle of the bush to see one; someone in your community may be willing to help you out. If going out into the middle of nowhere is not your cup of tea, you can go to any one of the national parks and see giraffes in their natural habitat.
The 200 MT ($5.71) banknote shows the lions that roam around Mozambique. People in my community tell stories of lions that would turn anybody’s ear. Lions are revered and feared throughout Mozambique, and Mozambicans respect the danger that comes with them.
Located on the back of the 500 MT ($14.29) banknote is the mighty buffalo. The buffalo are one of the four Big 5 animals located on the Mozambican bills. Can you name the others?
The powerful elephant is located on the 1000 MT ($28.57) banknote. The elephants are definitely a sight worth seeing in Mozambique. Unfortunately as Mozambique has slowly started to develop, it has displaced some elephants from where they have roamed for many years. However if you go up to the Niassa Reserve, you are surely not to be disappointed with the ones roaming around up there.
Coins are nothing to scoff at in Mozambique; unlike pennies, nickels, or dimes in American, coins have purchasing power in Mozambique. On top of being able to buy things with coins, it is often necessary for change. Also some restaurants or other establishments do not have the proper change on hand. Therefore, in order to save a little bit here and there, it is always necessary to have a little jingle in your pocket.
The 50 Centavos coin equates to $0.01. This coin is used so little that I forgot to include it in the original draft. On the front is the kingfisher bird; one of the many birds that sour above Mozambique. The diversity of birds in Mozambique has inspired some Peace Corps Volunteers to take up a bit of ornithology. Maybe looking at the coin long enough will inspire others as well.
The 1 Meticail ($0.03) shows a female student studying. Long before Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative, Mozambique has been aiming for more equality in the education system. Although this process is slow coming and has much more work to go, the constant reminder on the coin is valuable for all people around.
The 2 Meticais ($0.06) coin reflects on the fishing industry; it is one of the biggest industries in Mozambique. Although the Chinese bought most of the fishing rights, Mozambique still stands beside the fact that it produces a good catch.
The 5 Meticais ($0.14) coin displays a xylophone. Music is constant in Mozambique. From waking people up in the morning to keeping them up at night, music does not stop here. People gather around, laugh, and dance all throughout the day. In towns with power, most of the music is now played on speakers. However, most traditional music played during ceremonies is almost always exclusively xylophone and drums.
The 10 Meticais ($0.29) coin gives a picture of the headquarters of the Banco de Moçambique. Mozambicans take pride in their infrastructure, and Mozambican currency wouldn’t be the same unless it showed off its bank’s infrastructure.
Mozambique is a growing country, and the currency will begin to diverse with time. In the meantime, I’m doing fine with my multi-colored Samora Micheles in my pocket and couple of coins rattling around.