Visit Sipi falls, explore the gourds on Shs10,000
This is a serialized write-up of all the major features of the Ugandan currencies. We are looking to see what the touristic features on the notes are and telling that story to the core of each notes.
By View Uganda
The story of this note begins deep in Kapchorwa district, on a falls called Sipi Falls. The falls, a series of three waterfalls flowing off the edge of Mountain Elgon National Park is nothing short of breath taking. One of Uganda’s most visited falls, attracting over 10,000 tourists annually. It shouldn’t come as a surprise therefore that Sipi was chosen to feature on the Shs10,000 note.
Sipi falls, which happens to be the highest falls in Uganda has three levels and stretched a whole 95meters. A hike to its top will treat you to stunning views of the Karamoja plains and Pian Upe, the second biggest conservancy in Uganda. Along your way, you will also get to see ‘Sep’, an indigenous plant that resembles a type of wild bananas. It is used for treating measles and fever.
Yes, the bananas, a common staple in Uganda, the reason we are sometimes called the banana republic. This note recognizes that and thus showcases three distinctive species of plantain. No, this has nothing to do with Uganda being joked about for being a banana republic. Rather, it is a celebration of the immense fertility of the country’s soils, an advantage which has facilitated the growth of so many food crops especially bananas.
Material culture- Pots and gourd
The 10,000 note bears an illustration of a pot and a gourd, both of which served as utensils in the past. Gourds grew naturally throughout Uganda and didn't need bandaging (while growing) to produce desired shapes. Their preparation for use would start with them being plucked off their parent plants. They would then be dried in the till their back hardened. During this phase, the soft pulp inside them would rot and get washed out with water. To get rid of all their pulp, handful of pebbles would be inserted in them through the neck, after which they would be repeatedly shaken for days.
Their shape defined their purpose, as we would soon learn from Jacinta Apio, an 85 year old Langi grandmother based in Apac District. She says that they served several domestic purposes, plates, serving spoons, mugs, drinking vessels. For instance if they had a spacious base and thin long neck, we (Langi housewives) would cut them vertically into two halves. This made the neck convenient as a handle and the base good for scooping food.
On the other hand, if they had a spacious trunk, they would be cut at the lower part of their neck, this deemed them feet for used as a milking container or calabash for storing food. For an extra beauty, they would be decorated by burning under gentle heat. Alternatively, we would polish them with butter for an extra shine, or inscribe patterns against their skin.
The Shs10,000 also features the Statue of Education found in Kyambogo University. This representation is a reflection of Uganda's appreciation for formal education. The note depicts a lecturer guiding a student as he concentrates on something in an open book. The message here is that education is pivotal role in both personal and National development. Embrace, support and make the most of it.