The Banknotes of Somalia – Part 3

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Peter Symes

The Central Bank of Somalia

The First Issue

In 1975 there was a change to the structure of banking in Somalia. The two commercial banks, created in 1970, were amalgamated into the Commercial and Savings Bank of Somalia. At the same time, the National Bank of Somalia was renamed the Central Bank of Somalia. This event occurred around the same time that the last notes issued by the National Bank were being prepared for introduction, so it was inappropriate for a new issue under the authority of the Central Bank to be prepared immediately. However, a new issue was ultimately prepared and released into circulation, roughly three years after the changes to the banking system.

            This issue is the same in most aspects to the previous issue, with the differences primarily appearing in the text on the notes. The changes to the text are:

                      The title of the issuing authority is changed to ‘Bankiga Dhexe Ee Soomaaliya’ (Central Bank of Somalia)

                      The decree reads ‘XEER MJDS 6DII DISEMBAR 1977 LR74’ Endnote

                      The date at the bottom of the note now reads ‘1978’

                      The series identifier changes to ‘T’

In addition, the signatory for the Lacaghayaha is Ali Sheikh Hussein, while Dr. Omar Ahmed Omar continues to sign as Taliyaha.

            The only other differences, between the notes of the last issue by the National Bank and the initial issue of the Central Bank, were to the 5- and 100-shilling notes. The illustration on the back of the original 100-shilling note shows a group of women sorting fruit in a processing plant, with one women standing to the right holding a wheelbarrow. On the notes of the new issue, the woman on the right and her wheelbarrow have been removed and they remain absent in all future issues where this illustration is used. For the 5-shilling note, the colour of the note has become brighter and may now be called red (although it has a touch of crimson). Minor as the change of colour may have been, a more significant change occurred during the period of this issue when a second variety of the 5-shilling note was introduced. The second variety saw the removal of the illustration of the three wildebeest and two zebras and the introduction of an illustration of a herd of water buffalo.

            The illustration of the wildebeest and zebras was introduced on the last issue of the National Bank and retained on the first issue of the Central Bank. However, wildebeest inhabit southern and eastern Africa, as far north as the acacia savannas of Kenya, but they do not inhabit Somalia. Zebras, while not common in Somalia, do range into Somalia and Ethiopia from northern Kenya, but it is doubtful whether they can really be regarded as an animal native to Somalia. While the depiction of zebras on Somali banknotes might just be acceptable, the inclusion of wildebeest on this and the previous issue appears to have been a mistake by the banknote designer; a mistake which was not picked up during the design and approval processes. It is strange that the error persisted from the last issue of the National Bank to this issue before the correction was made, but it was corrected with the introduction of the second variety of the 5-shilling note.

            A further issue of the 10-, 20-, and 100-shilling notes was made in 1980 and this may be referred to as the ‘X’ series or the 1980 issue. All details of the previous issue are maintained except for the date of issue, the serial numbers, a change in title of a signatory and the actual signatories. The decree authorizing this issue reads XEER MJDS 5TII ABRIL 1980 LR52 and the inscription at the bottom of the note complements the decree by reading MUQDISHO 1980. There are two changes to the serial numbers. Firstly, the series number is now ‘X’ and, secondly, the series number and serial number are printed in red ink, whereas for all previous issues these numbers were printed in black ink.

            The title given to the head of the Bank changes in this issue from ‘Taliyaha’ to ‘Guddoomiyaha’ and the actual signatories for this series are Mohamud Jama Ahmed, signing as Guddoomiyaha, and Barre Haji Omar, signing as Lacaghayaha. In identifying a Somali word that could be used to mean ‘Governor’, the word ‘Taliyaha’ was originally chosen. However, Taliyaha also has a meaning of ‘Commander’ and it was felt that this meaning of the word was inappropriate for the Governor of the Bank. Therefore the word ‘Guddoomiyaha’ was chosen as an alternative. Guddoomiyaha may be translated as ‘Chairman’, ‘Mayor’ or ‘Governor’.

            In 1981 the ‘KH’ series was introduced. This series consists of just two denominations, 20 and 100 shillings. They are identical in all respects to their predecessors, save for reference to the dates on the notes and the series number. The series number is now ‘KH’, while the decree reads XEER MJDS 9KII DIISAMBAR 1981 LR66 and the inscription at the bottom of the note reads MUQDISHO 1981.

The Second Issue

In late 1982 preparations were put in place for the introduction of a new series of banknotes. The pertinent decree was enacted in December 1982 and in 1983 the notes were released into circulation. The notes of this series are similar to the notes of the preceding series, but they are reduced in size and this reduction meant that each note had to be redrawn.

            Even though the notes have been completely redesigned it often requires a second look to identify the differences between the new notes and the notes they replaced—so similar are the designs. The exception is the 5-shilling note, which is immediately identifiable as a different design. However, the 10-, 20- and 100-shilling notes have very similar characteristics to the notes they replaced. In addition to the four traditional denominations released in Somalia over the previous thirty years, this issue sees the introduction of a new denomination of 50 shillings.

            The notes of this series have several features common to each note, with the exception of the 5-shilling note. Firstly, the Somali star appears as a perfect registration device, at the bottom on the front of each note, registering perfectly with a complementary image on the back of the note. Secondly, a new fluorescent device consisting of a solid disc of ink, in which the Somali coat of arms is depicted, is centred on the front of each note. To the left of the fluorescent disc is the value of the note in western numerals and to the right is the value in Arabic numerals. Thirdly, the light brown, fluorescing security thread appears to the left of each denomination and, finally, the watermark of Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan appears in a pale area to the right.

            The 5-shilling note lacks all these features except the fluorescent feature, which appears at the right on the front of the note. It has no perfect registration device, no security thread, and no watermark. In addition, it has only one serial number whereas all other denominations have two. The simplicity of these notes is undoubtedly due to the low value of the note.

            The decree on the notes of this issue reads XEER MJDS 30KII DISEMBER 1982 LR 67 Endnote and the date and place of issue reads: MUQDISHO 1983. This is the third time that the date at the bottom of the note has differed to the date in the decree Endnote and, as such, reinforces the suggestion that the second date was intended to indicate when the notes were expected to be placed into circulation (although this objective was not always achieved). The signatories for this issue are Mohamud Jama Ahmed, signing as Guddoomiyaha, and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle, signing as Lacaghayaha. The series identifier for these notes always commences with ‘D’. The details of each note in this new series are:

5 shillings

            Size:                            120 x 60 mm

            Illustration on front:   A herd of water buffalo.

            Illustration on back:    Men harvesting bananas in a plantation.

            Dominant colour:       Burgundy.

10 shillings

            Size:                            133 x 68 mm

            Illustration on front:   The minaret of the remains of the Abdul Aziz Mosque, located in Mogadishu.

            Illustration on back:    Men building boats in the traditional manner.

            Dominant colour:       Green.

20 shillings

            Size:                            137 x 70 mm

            Illustration on front:   The headquarters of the Central Bank of Somalia.

            Illustration on back:    A herd of cows walking along the dry bed of a river (with just a little water apparent).

            Dominant colour:       Brown.

50 shillings

            Size:                            142 x 72 mm

            Illustration on front:   The ruins of an old mosque, located in the older part of Mogadishu known as Hamar weyn. (Also spelt ‘Xamar Weyne’.) Hamar weyn was one of the two original quarters, or districts, of Mogadishu. The mosque was built by Sultan Said Barkash, who was a representative of the Sultan of Oman at the time the Sultans of Oman ruled the coast of Somalia.

            Illustration on back:    A gathering of camels, sheep, cattle and farmers at a feeding trough, representing the agricultural wealth of Somalia.

            Dominant colour:       Orange.

100 shillings

            Size:                            148 x 74 mm

            Illustrations on front:  a) The ‘Dagahtur’, or ‘stone-throwers’, Monument.

b) A female allegorical figure, carrying her baby but brandishing a gun in one hand and agricultural implements in the other.

            Illustration on back:    Women working in a fruit or vegetable processing plant.

            Dominant colour:       Blue.

            This series of notes was subsequently re-issued over a number of years, although each issue did not necessarily include each denomination. Each time that the notes were re-issued, the only elements on the note that changed were the signatories and the date of issue. (The decree authorizing the notes remains unchanged.) The various issues are:

            Date:               1986

            Signatories:     Dr. Omar Ahmed Omar and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle.

            Denominations:          5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 shillings.


            Date:               1987

            Signatories:     Dr. Omar Ahmed Omar and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle.

            Denominations:          5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 shillings.


            Date:               1987

            Signatories:     Dr. Mahmud Muhommad Nur and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle.

            Denominations:          50 and 100 shillings.


            Date:               1988

            Signatories:     Dr. Mahmud Muhommad Nur and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle.

            Denominations:          50 and 100 shillings.

            As the Somali economy began to collapse in the late 1980s, inflation rose and it was necessary to issue a higher denomination note. So, in 1989, when a new release of the 20-, 50- and 100-shilling notes was made, the existing denominations, which were unchanged from the preceding series except for the date, were joined by a 500-shilling note. The new note carries many similarities to the other notes in this series. It has the same series number, the same watermark, the same security thread and the same fluorescent feature as the other notes issued in the previous six years. The signatories remain as for the preceding issue, being Dr. Mahmud Muhommad Nur and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle. There are however, two differences. Firstly, the 500-shilling note carries a new decree, with the text on the note reading XEER MJDS 1DA JANNAAYO 1989 LR7. Secondly, the series numbers and the serial numbers of the high-denomination note fluoresce when submitted to ultra-violet light.

            By 1989 the Somali economy was weakening daily and, as the situation worsened, a further supply of notes was ordered. As there was a diminishing requirement for small denomination notes, only the new 500-shilling note was ordered. The single feature that identifies the later issue of 1989 is the change in signature of the Guddoomiyaha. The later notes carry the signature of Dr. Omar Ahmed Omar.

            As the situation spiralled out of control, a further issue of the 500-shilling note was made and a 1000-shilling note was introduced. The 500-shilling is in all respects the same as the second issue of 1989, except that the date of issue is 1990. The new 1000-shilling note is in a number of ways similar to the notes that preceded it, but there are some subtle changes. The design of the note is similar to the 500-shilling note and the fluorescent security thread and watermark used on this note are the same as for previous issues in this series. However, the placing of the perfect registration device changes (being split between the top and bottom of the note), the font used for the serial numbers changes (although they still fluoresce), and the fluorescent feature is changed. In place of the disc containing the coat of arms, a simple fluorescent device of the denomination, i.e. ‘1000’, is superimposed on the signatures. In addition, the yellow ink on the back of the note fluoresces under ultra-violet light. (This is the first time that fluorescent ink has been used on the back of a Somali note.)

            Not surprisingly, a new decree authorized the issue of the 1000-shilling note. The text on the banknote that refers to the decree reads: XEER MJDS 1DA JANNAAYO 1990 LR.10 and the date of issue is 1990. The signatories for the 500- and 1000-shilling notes continue to be Dr. Omar Ahmed Omar and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle. Details of the two high denomination notes issued in 1989 and 1990 are.

500 shillings

            Size:                            148 x 74 mm

            Illustrations on front:  At the left, a seated fisherman is mending a fishing net, while just to the right of centre is a standing man propelling a traditional boat.

            Illustration on back:    The ‘Masaagidka Isbaheysiga’ or ‘Solidarity Mosque’ in Mogadishu. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘Saudi Mosque’, as it was built with assistance from Saudi Arabia. The mosque is not built in the traditional style of Somali mosques, which typically have cupolas over the roof.

            Dominant colour:       Green.

1000 shillings

            Size:                            154 x 76 mm

            Illustration on front:   Somali women weaving baskets.

            Illustrations on back:  An aerial view of the old port of Mogadishu at the top of the note and a panorama of the foreshore of old Mogadishu at the bottom of the note. Located one third from the left of the panorama is the Said Barkash Museum. Many of the buildings in this panorama are believed to have been destroyed during the civil war and disturbances that have wracked Somalia since 1991.

            Dominant colour:       Orange.

            By 1990, the economic crisis called for change in currency. The government acted to reform the currency by creating the New Somali Shilling, with one New Shilling being equal to one hundred old Somali Shillings. Notes in the denominations of 20 and 50 new shillings were ordered by the Central Bank. The notes are smaller in size than the notes of the previous series, but their design is reminiscent of the 500- and 1000-shilling notes of the preceding issue. The two ‘onion-domed’ arches, the panel at the left, and the horizontal lines in the left- and right-hand margins are similar to the 500- and 1000-shilling notes and the split perfect registration device of the Somali Star is the same as for the 1000-shilling note.

            The decree authorizing their issue is referred to by the following text on the notes: XEER MJDS LR.46 18.09.1990. The date and place of issue are MUQDISHO 1991 and the signatories remain unchanged from the last notes of the previous issue, being Dr. Omar Ahmed Omar and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle. The denomination of each note is written in the four corners on the front and the four corners on the back of the note. On the front the denomination is written twice in Somali and twice in English, while on the back it is written twice in Arabic, once in English and once in Somali.

            The serial numbers change their format on these notes. Instead of the series number and the serial number of the previous issues, these notes carry a serial number with a prefix. The prefix for each note commences at ‘AA’. The serial numbers fluoresce and a new fluorescent device is used on the notes. The device is a solid block of ink, in which the denomination, i.e. ‘N20’ or ‘N50’, is represented by the absence of ink.

20 new shillings

            Size:                            134 x 68 mm

            Illustrations on front:  A Somali man with a camel.

            Illustration on back:    Women harvesting cotton.

            Dominant colours:      Red, purple and green

50 new shillings

            Size:                            138 x 71 mm

            Illustrations on front:  A man weaving cloth at a hand loom.

            Illustration on back:    A woman with three children on a donkey.

            Dominant colours:      Light brown, dark brown and green.

            By late 1990 Somalia was in an unstable situation. On 27 January 1991 Siad Barre was thrown from office and forced to flee Mogadishu. The United Somali Congress (USC) then declared Ali Mahdi Mohamed as the interim President on 29 January. However, the USC was only one of a number of rebel movements that had been formed in opposition to Siad Barre’s government and none of the other organizations were particularly pleased with the unilateral move of the USC. On 18 May the Somali National Movement (SNM) proclaimed independence for Somaliland, which is the Northern Region of Somalia that was formerly British Somaliland. While the secession of Somaliland was not recognized internationally, it was not immediately challenged to any great degree from within Somalia (although it was later engaged in struggles with southern forces).

            In November 1991 a civil war broke out in Mogadishu between the supporters of Ali Mahdi and General Mohamed Farah Aideed. The civil war saw an estimated 14,000 killed, 27,000 wounded, and no victor. In addition, many Somalis fled Somalia, establishing a diaspora throughout the world. It was into the madness that was Somalia in 1991 that the New Somali Shillings were delivered from the manufacturer. With no effective central government and no functioning central bank, these notes were seized by Ali Mahdi, whose army and supporters were referred to as the ‘Mogadishu northern forces’. These notes have continued to circulate in the areas under the control of the northern forces.

            As fighting escalated and central control of the country evaporated, control of the currency reserves also disappeared. In a very short period of time, the Somali shilling depreciated to the point where it was worth very little. Other currencies began circulating in lieu of a stable Somali currency. American dollars, Ethiopian birr, Saudi riyals and the dirhams of the United Arab Emirates have all found a place in the Somali economy. However, the Somali shilling found a niche as small change to the foreign currencies and they remained a significant medium of exchange for small businesses, market traders and the poorer sections of the community.

            From 1992 the international community, through the auspices of the United Nations, attempted to bring stability to Somalia, but to no avail. Somalia became more fragmented with warlords fighting to establish small areas of influence and independence. As the warlords fought over relief supplies and the struggle for control of specific political and economic areas, drought, famine and disease hit Somalia. An estimated 300,000 people died in this period, either directly, due to the fighting, or indirectly from starvation or disease.

            Realizing that their efforts had been inadequate, the United Nations sent a multi-national force, led by the United States, to Somalia in December 1993. After a period of unsuccessful engagement, the American troops were withdrawn by 31 March 1994 and the remaining United Nations forces struggled on until March 1995. Their efforts achieved negligible results and Somalia was still a broken and disturbed nation when the United Nations forces were withdrawn.

            Somalia was now divided into several spheres of influence that remained reasonably static for a number of years. Ali Mahdi Mohamed controlled areas around and to the north of Mogadishu; Mohammed Farah Aideed controlled areas around and to the south of Mogadishu; Mohamed Ibrahim Egal controlled most of the former British protectorate, which had established itself as Somaliland; and Abdillahi Yusuf established a separate administration in Puntland, the north-eastern area of Somalia. Several other areas fell under the control of competing warlords.

            In 1996 Mohammed Farah Aideed, still the head of one of the major forces in Somalia, placed an order for Somali shillings with the British American Banknote Company, a Canadian company based in Ottawa. Despite condemnation in Canada for the transaction, the banknotes were printed and delivered to Somalia. The deal was evidently brokered by a Malaysian businessman on behalf of Aideed. However, Mohammed Farah Aideed never saw the money, as he died on 1 August 1996 from wounds received during a battle in Mogadishu. Ultimately, his son, Hussein Aideed, and other members of his clan received four shipments of the currency that was estimated at 165 billion Somali shillings.

            The notes printed for Aideed were probably in denominations of 500 and 1000 shillings, although this has not been confirmed, and they can be identified in a number of ways. Firstly, the notes carry the date ‘1996’ at the bottom of the notes and they are signed by Ali Amalow as Guddoomiyaha. Amalow was appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Somalia in October 1990, just prior to the fall of Siad Barre, and he did not sign any ‘official’ notes issued by the Central Bank of Somalia. Secondly, the use of the letter ‘D’ as the series identifier for the 1000-shilling notes suggests that these were the notes introduced by Aideed, as it can be expected that he would use the existing identifier for this series. The only known 500-shilling note issued after the fall of Siad Barre uses the same font for the serial numbers as the 1000-shilling note with the ‘D’ series identifier, suggesting they were printed at the same time. However, the use of ‘A’ as the series identifier for the 500-shilling notes does not follow the use of ‘D’ for the previously issued notes and therefore there is some doubt as to whether these notes were printed for Aideed.

            The bold initiative by Aideed, of issuing his own notes, did not go unnoticed by other faction leaders in Somalia. In 1999 the Puntland administration contracted printers in Indonesia to produce Somali shillings for their own use. These notes can be recognized by the different colour for the number ‘1000’ that appears in the centre of the notes. On these notes the number is purple, whereas for all other printings of this note it is green. In fact the differences are more varied, but this is the chief distinguishing point. On the original notes, there is a green, orange and purple intaglio print, but on the Indonesian-printed notes there is no intaglio printing. Instead the colours are printed by lithographic printing and areas that should have been green are printed in purple.

            Following the conclusion of the Somali National Peace Conference in Djibouti on 22 August 2000, a Transitional National Government was elected with Abdiqasim Salad Hassan chosen as president. As there had been a dozen different peace conferences over the previous ten years with no satisfactory outcome, this result looked promising. Relocating to Mogadishu, the government moved tentatively and soon the control of the government moved to businessmen who worked in concert with the politicians. One of the products of this collaboration was that the Transitional National Government became involved in importing fake banknotes to help prop up the economy. The Transitional Government imported Somali shillings from an unknown source but when it became apparent that almost anyone could have money printed and imported into the country, many business men did just that.

            In February 2001 Mogadishu businessmen imported 60 billion Somali shillings into the country. In order to gain control of the economy, the Transitional Government was forced to purchase this money from the businessmen for the cost of printing and transportation. An undertaking was also elicited from the businessmen that they would import no more money. However, later shipments of banknotes were brought into the country under the protection of the Transitional Government. Endnote

            Around May 2000 it was reported that Mohamed Hasan Nur, the leader of the Rahaweyn Resistance Army, had visited Italy and had arranged to have 500- and 1000-shilling notes printed in Italy and shipped to Somalia. He evidently intended that the currency would circulate in the Bay and Bakool regions of Somali, which were under his control. Endnote (It is not known whether these notes were actually printed and delivered.)

            The importation of fake currency was not limited to the old Somali shilling. It was only a matter of time before importations of fake new shillings began to appear and notes of this issue with a prefix commencing with ‘X’ are believed to be an ‘unauthorized’ importation. The new shillings were apparently imported by Mogadishu businessmen who probably found that there was more profit to be made in importing the higher value notes.

            It is not easy to follow all the trading, importing and printing of fake Somali banknotes. Certainly, the printing of notes by the British American Banknote Company for Mohammed Farah Aideed is one of the few well-documented cases of the printing of fake notes. However, many reports implicate Canada, Indonesia and Malaysia as sources of fake money without nominating the recipient or the printer. One report nominates the Indonesian company Pt. Pura Baru Kudus, located in Java, as involved in printing US$4 million worth of Somali bank notes, but there is no indication whether they were the suppliers for the Puntland administration or for another authority. While most of the businessmen importing currency are nameless, Mohamed Abdulle Daylaaf and Hussein Goley of Mogadishu are two businessmen who have been reported as importers of fake currency.

            (There is one interesting aspect to the factions circulating fake currency in Somalia. On 3 September 1998 Mohamed Said Hersi, known as ‘General Morgan’, declared Jubaland independent. Jubaland is in southern Somalia, bordering on Kenya, and has as its capital Kismayo. Of all the reports concerning fake currency, none have been found in reference to the administration led by Hersi. However, his reign was short, surviving only until June 1999, and it is understood that he may not have had the finances to purchase a stock of banknotes.)

            In many ways it is surprising that the importation of fake Somali shillings continues to occur. When the importation of the fake notes first occurred, importers realized a huge windfall due to the seigniorage gained in the issuing of the currency. Seigniorage is the difference in the cost of producing the banknotes and the value of the note when placed into circulation. It was reported by some Somali businessmen that the cost of producing a 1000-shilling note was US$0.028. In 1991 1000 shillings was worth US$0.20 and so the seigniorage (excluding transport and storage) was US$0.172 per 1000-shilling note. The exchange rate fluctuated over the ensuing years, but towards the end of the 1990s the rate plunged dramatically to the extent that, by 2001, a 1000-shilling note was equivalent to US$0.0416 and, if the cost of production remained steady, the seigniorage had dropped to US$0.0136. At some point in time, if inflation continues, it becomes unprofitable to print 1000-shilling notes. This is why 500-shilling notes are no longer printed. However, where 50-new-shilling notes are printed, it remains profitable for a much longer period.

            A significant aspect to consider in regard to the distribution of fake shillings is the social and economic effect on the market into which the currency is introduced. If fake currency floods the market, it immediately devalues the currency in circulation. In Somalia, where the poor are affected, this causes distress amongst the majority of people who have lower incomes. The BBC News reported in June 1999 that two people were killed by market guards in Mogadishu after riots broke out following the importation of fake currency. Endnote By this time the public of Somalia were all too aware of the economic impact of the importation of fake currency and in this instance the riot was the result of people venting their anger.

            The following table gives an estimate of currency acquired, or ordered, by various parties from 1991 to 2001.

Issuing Party

Currency Issued

Ali Mahdi (including 24 billion in New Shillings) 104.0>
North Mogadishu businessmen (New Shillings) 90.0
Aideed and businessmen 165.0
Transitional Government and businessmen 90.0
Puntland Administration and businessmen 86.0
Independent businessmen 60.0
Total 595.0

Table 2. Currency issued by issuer 1991 to 2001 (in billions of Somali Shillings) Endnote

            So, is it possible to identify the different notes prepared for the different administrations and the different businessmen? The answer is, not surprisingly, that it is in some cases and not in others. Firstly, of the notes prepared by various sources after 1991, it is known that there are four different 1000-shilling notes, one 500-shilling note and one 50-new shilling note. It is suspected that there are more varieties. The only positive identifying feature for most of the notes is the serial number. The different issues appear to use different letters for the series number and many use a different font for the serial number. All but one of the notes issued in Somali shillings carries the signature of Ali Abdi Amalow as the Guddomiyaha. Ali Amalow was appointed Governor in October 1990, just prior to the fall of Siad Barre and he did not sign any ‘official’ notes issued by the Central Bank of Somalia.

            These are the known issues and an opinion on who issued them where an estimate is possible.

500 Shillings

            Date:               1996

            Signatories:     Ali Abdi Amalow and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle

            Serial number:            Font A.

            Known series: A

            Issuer:             Unknown (possibly Aideed).

1000 Shillings

            Date:               1996

            Signatories:     Ali Abdi Amalow and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle

            Serial number:            Font A

            Known series: D

            Issuer:             Probably Mohammed Farah Aideed, as he presumably continued to use the ‘D’ series, the original series identifier for this issue.

1000 Shillings

            Date:               1996

            Signatories:     Ali Abdi Amalow and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle

            Serial number:            Font B

            Known series: M; serial number has six numerals.

            Issuer:             Unknown.

1000 Shillings

            Date:               1996

            Signatories:     Ali Abdi Amalow and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle

            Serial number:            Font B

            Known series: F, G, N, M; serial number has seven numerals.

            Issuer:             Unknown.

1000 Shillings

            Date:               1990

            Signatories:     Dr. Omar Ahmed Omar and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle

            Serial number:            Font C

            Known series: A

            Issuer:             Issued by the Puntland administration.

            Note:               This variety has a different colour for the denomination of ‘1000’ that appears in the centre of the note.

50 New Shillings

            Date:               1991

            Signatories:     Dr. Omar Ahmed Omar and Hassan Elmi Barkhadle

            Known series: XA, XY

            Issuer:             Mogadishu businessmen.

The matter of identifying all the fake currency and who issued the notes will probably never be fully described. Without access to examples of all notes, identifying the areas in which they circulated, and determining the printers of each series, the story of these issues will never be documented in full. It is to be hoped that, over time, more aspects of the notes and their issue will become known to more and more people, resulting in a better explanation of their issue.

Series Numbers

The sequence of series letters used on Somali banknotes, from the initial issues of the National Bank of Somalia to the notes issued by the Central Bank of Somalia in 1990, is a little unusual but entirely logical. There is, however, one conundrum surrounding the sequence used. The series letters used for the notes issued on the various dates are:

            1962    A

            1966    B

            1968    B

            1971    B

            1975    J

            1978    T

            1980    X

            1981    KH

            1983    D         (This was used for all notes dated from 1983 to 1990)

The sequence of letters used on the banknotes, of A, B, J, T, X, KH and D, is so very similar to the Somali alphabetical sequence of A, B, T, J, X, KH and D that it appears an aberration that the positions of T and J are reversed in the sequence on the banknotes. An explanation of how the actual sequence occurred is as follows. Firstly, the Latin alphabet was used for the notes issued while the bank was still under Italian influence. This accounts for the letters ‘A’ and ‘B’, with the ‘A’ used for the Italian-printed notes and ‘B’ for the British-printed notes. The letter ‘J’ was used in 1975 when the ‘Somalized’ notes were introduced. The letter ‘J’ was probably introduced because the ‘abjad’, or ‘numerical’, sequence of the Arab alphabet was being invoked. (Arabic is widely spoken in Somalia.) Under this sequence, the first four letters of the Arab alphabet transliterate as A, B, J, D. However, it appears that those in authority at the new Central Bank of Somalia decided to use the Somali alphabet for future issues and, for an unknown reason, they decided to utilize the unused ‘T’ prior to continuing the sequence of the Somali alphabet. Endnote

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

This article was completed in December 2005
© Peter Symes