PRETORIA (AFP) – The South African Reserve Bank on Tuesday rolled out new bank notes bearing the face of the country’s first black president Nelson Mandela, the latest monument to the 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon.
“Madiba is really a South African extraordinary human being, and somebody all of us relate to in one way or another,” said Governor Gill Marcus, as she used the notes for the first time.
“We felt it was time to reflect a new image that builds us. Everyone is excited about the new notes,” she added.
The notes show a smiling Mandela on the front and retain the images of one of the big five animals — lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant on the back–which featured on the old money.
Marcus said Mandela was happy with the notes.
The revered statesman held office between 1994 and 1999, he is currently living out his retirement in his childhood rural village of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape province.
He is the first black face to appear on South African money.