A Penny for your Thoughts

With rising inflation and the depreciation of our Rand we tend to not pay too much attention to the brown coins that jingle in our pockets, but the South African cents, as with coins all over the world, tell a little bit of the story of our country. When the Rand replaced the British Pound in 1961, the new coins bore the portrait of Jan van Riebeeck on one side, with the English and Afrikaans for ‘South Africa’ on the other. Over the years the face of the coins changed, with various Prime Ministers, Presidents, as well as the South African coat of arms appearing on the different denominations. But with the change in government, the design of the South African coins was given a complete overhaul in 1996, and for the first time in history our country’s name appeared on our coins in African languages—in fact, in all eleven languages as recognised by our Constitution! The coat of arms was also changed in 2000 to reflect the new design, showing the diversity of the people of South Africa.

Translated into isiZulu ‘South Africa’ reads ‘iNingizimu Afrika’. The Zulu name for our country has appeared (in rotation) on all of our coins at some point since the idea was first introduced twenty years ago. Other auspicious moments and people have also made their way into the design of our currency over the years, and to look at the different images over time is a bit like reading about the history of our country.

Go to samint.co.za to read a bit about the different series of our coins and to hear our story told in a completely different way.

Leave a Comment