Kenya is taking Presidents’ Portraits off its currency to promote tourism


The Central Bank of Kenya has launched new generation coins that exchanged the use of portraits of Kenyan ex-presidents for native wildlife images with new coins of one, five,ten, and twenty shillings bearing designs to pay tribute to Kenya’s environment and the nation’s abundant wildlife.

In 2017, more than 2.3 million people visited Kenya’s national parks and game reserves according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics so paying homage to major wildlife species is pragmatic given the fact that it promotes tourism, a key foreign exchange earner in Kenya instead of celebrating particular leaders. Currency notes usually featured the faces of the country’s first and second presidents, Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi while a limited 40-shilling coin featured the third president Mwai Kibaki. Removing their faces from the new currency was a constitutional way of lessening the cult of personality to promote commonality in a nation where tribalism and ethnic affiliations are the arbiters of social, political, and economic life.

Kenya adopted its current constitution in 2010, the law dramatically decentralized power relations, promised for greater accountability and fairer distribution of resources. The law also dictated that coins and banknotes “bear images that depict or symbolize Kenya or an aspect of Kenya but shall not bear the portrait of any individual.”

Kenya alone has over 40 ethnic groups but only two groups have been able to raise presidents, namely Kikuyu and Kalenjin, and currencies bearing their faces work to emphasize the nation’s ethicized political and economic reality.

Despite the excitement, the new-look currency has hit its first snag with the Consumer Federation of Kenya filing a case in court to stop further printing saying there weren’t enough consultations of the public in the process of developing the new designs.

This is great news for Kenya tourism as this move will definitely shows why Kenya is going hard on promoting it’s various tourist attractions.