#Article (Archive)

Dirty Banknotes

Jul 15, 2009, 9:15 AM

Whether you are commuting from one place to another or shopping in a market or a grocer's nowadays, you are likely to receive a threadbare banknote, especially the five dalasis banknote, as change. Some of them are worn out beyond recognition so much so that they seem to crumble in your palm. And in order to salvage a banknote that is coming apart, the recipient usually sticks it together with strips of cellophane. In some cases, the recipient does not mind a strip that is not so clear and transparent; any piece of paper is considered suitable. But this not usually the case with the higher denominations such as ten, twenty-five, fifty and one hundred banknotes. With the higher denominations, it is the edges that are usually torn off.  And this is even more painful, as you cannot replace the torn-off edge, making the banknote invalid for any transaction. The upshot is that you lose the money altogether. Just imagine it being a hundred dalasis banknote!
But it was a different story in Bakau about a fortnight ago. There was a young man who was not prepared to lose his hard earned one hundred dalasis just like that. When he saw that upper right-hand corner of his one hundred dalasis had been torn off, he folded it three times over and went into a grocer's to buy some loaves of bread and a few other things. What he bought added up to thirty-five dalasis. In appreciation of his fairly large purchase, the Fula man put everything into a plastic bag and handed it over to the young man. The young man in turn gently handed over the one hundred dalasis banknote to the Fula man. Apparently in his haste to attend to other customers, the Fula man never bothered to stretch out the banknote. He pulled out his drawer, kept the money inside and then rummaged for the change of sixty-five dalasis for the young man who hastened out of the grocer's.
The young man had barely turned the corner when the Fula man unfolded the one hundred dalasis banknote and saw that it was torn at the edge. He rushed out and called after the young man who feigned surprise. Waving the one hundred dalasis banknote in the air, the Fula man gripped the young man's arm, took the plastic bag, threw the one hundred dalasis banknote at him and walked back to his shop. He was about going to the police station when the crowd that had already gathered prevailed on him to forgive and forget.
The point is that our banknotes are symbols of our sovereignty and should be handled with care. Having worn out notes all over the place does not tell well of us, besides the possible health hazards such notes pose to the citizenry.
We believe that the situation is not beyond redemption; the earlier the relevant authorities swing into action, the better for everybody.