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Mandela bank notes to be issued by South Africa

New Mandela bank notes will feature the face of South Africa's first black president, and replace the current safari-themed bank notes bearing images of "Big 5" animals.

Nelson mandela bank notes 2012 02 11Enlarge
This picture taken on February 11, 2012 shows the new South African bank note of 50 Rand displayed on a screen during the announcement of a new line of bank notes in Pretoria. The new bank notes bear the former president's image Nelson Mandela circa 1990, the year he was freed from prison in a moment that came to symbolise the fall of apartheid and the rise of a new, democratic South Africa. They replace a design featuring the 'big five' safari animals (Cape buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino) introduced in 1992, two years before Mandela was elected the country's first black president. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A new set of bank notes featuring Nelson Mandela's image are to be issued by South Africa. 

The Mandela bank notes will be issued in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 rand, and will replace the current safari-themed notes that carry images of the "Big 5" animals: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and Cape buffalo.

Mandela, 93, became South Africa's first democratically elected president in 1994. He was released from prison on Feb. 11, 1990 — 22 years ago today — after spending 27 years behind bars, many of them at the infamous Robben Island prison. 

More from GlobalPost: New cookbook features Mandela's favorite dishes

President Jacob Zuma said the bank notes were a "humble gesture" to express the "deep gratitude" of South Africans toward Mandela.

"It is a befitting tribute to a man who became a symbol of this country's struggle for freedom, human rights and democracy," Zuma said, speaking at the central bank in Pretoria.

"The bank notes will make us remember and appreciate our achievements in order to continue the journey towards a more prosperous society."

The South African Reserve Bank is in the process of producing the new bank notes, but a release date has yet to be announced.

Advance notice of a news conference at the central bank briefly rattled the markets, with traders on edge about South Africa's economy. 

The rand dropped 2.5 percent against the dollar, but rebounded after bank officials said the news would not be about interest rates or resignations, the South African Press Association reported.

GlobalPost special report: Mandela's village: South Africa's road from Qunu

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/south-africa/120211/mandela-bank-notes-south-africa-currency