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Do you know the symbol at the back of your currency note?


NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 17 – I had never thought about it until the other day when my friend told me it had just cost him his dream job in a bank.

Abel, could not identify the basic physical features in any of our Kenyan currency notes, he just fumbled and failed his interview. All he had, like myself then, were clues.

I discovered we were not alone when I went to the streets of Nairobi on Wednesday to ask the same question and guesswork dominated the answers.

What is at the back of a Sh50 currency note, I ask Michael Mwangi, a taxi driver, who first laughs so hard like its rocket science.

“I think it is either two elephant horns or KICC. For a Sh100 note, I really don’t know,” he says still looking at his friends to see if they can give him a clue, “I just use money but I have never been that keen.”

“The back of a Sh500 note has a lion. I am sure. That’s all I know,” Stanley Githinji a businessman tells me looking at me straight in the eye perhaps with hopes I may just hand him the note.

There are plans by Central Bank of Kenya to change the looks of our currencies and before that happens, here are the basic features.

Sh50 shillings note

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The current Sh50 note was issued on April 2006 and the size is 138mm x 72mm. The main colours are brown and green.

The back of the 50 shilling note shows a theme of ‘a nomad with camels in a caravan’ as well as the “Mombasa Tusks” an iconic monument in Mombasa as in the earlier notes.

Sh100 note

The current Sh100 note’s main colours are purple, red and green and was issued on April 2006. The size of the Note is 141mm x 74mm.

The back of the note has as its theme the ‘Kenyatta International Conference Centre’ with the statue of Kenya’s founding President the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. It also consists a tower and snow capped mountains.

Sh200 note

The Sh200 note was issued on June 2005 and the main colours are green and blue. The size is 144mm x 76mm.

The back of the Sh200 note has ‘cotton picking’ as its theme and depicts cotton picking workers during a cotton harvest.

Sh500 note

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The Sh500 note contains all the Kenyan flag colours; red, green, black and white. It was issued on August 2004 and its measures 147mm x 78mm.

The back of the note has as its theme ‘Kenya’s National Assembly’ and shows the Parliament Buildings in Nairobi. The note also shows the traditional shield and crossed spears design taken from the emblem of Kenya.

Sh1,000 note

The current Sh1,000 note was also issued on August 2004 and the size is the largest at 150 mm x 80mm. The main colour of the note is brown.

The back of the above note has as its central theme ‘a grazing herd of elephants’ with two buffaloes and a dove to represent the rich Kenyan wildlife.


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