Photograph — Pond5

The Gambia’s Central Bank has removed the portrait of its former President, Yahya Jammeh, from the country’s banknotes. This is part of a total overhaul of Gambia’s currency which has been in use since independence. 

In January 2018, the apex bank disclosed that it was phasing out all copies of the dalasi (The Gambia’s currency) with Jammeh’s photo on them, which were issued in 2015. This came after Jammeh lost elections to the new President, Adama Barrow, in late 2016 but was forced out of power and then fled to exile in Equatorial Guinea the following year.

Jammeh’s face was vivid on all The Gambia’s currencies, but according to reports, the country’s new notes have been reprinted without his image. The banknotes include 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 dalasi, while the D25 bill has been scrapped. 

Replacing Jammeh’s images are pictures of birds on one side and several local scenes on the other – from a farmer in a rice paddy to a fisherman in a boat at sea. The poultry is believed to be one of the national birds. More so, the new notes are reportedly equipped with high-security features.

The Central Bank head, Bakary Jammeh, on Monday presented copies of the new notes to president Adama Barrow and they were rolled out into the economy on Tuesday through commercial banks.

“A national currency is not (a) personal property and the head of a sitting president should not be on that note,” one of the country’s rights activist, Madi Jobarteh, said of Jammeh’s decision to inscribe his image on the currency.

Ironically, Jammeh had criticized his predecessor – the country’s first president Dawda Jawara – for printing notes with his face on it back in 1971. Years on, Jammeh also had his face on the currency.

Jobarteh added that instead of Jammeh, there are “many Gambians who deserve to be on these notes because of their roles and contributions in the struggle for independence and development of this country since independence.”

The embattled Jammeh is currently under investigation based on accusations of various crimes such as torturing of opponents, executions without trial, forced disappearances and rape during his time in office. A commission of inquiry set up by President Barrow in January has heard that Jammeh looted state funds and mismanaged the economy with unilateral decisions to technocrats.


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