Is it just me or ever since the coins were reintroduced in this country, they have for lack of a better word become a ‘nuisance’? The last time I recall using coins in Zambia we were proudly brandishing the MMD sign. How times have changed. When the Bank of Zambia announced last year that they were rebasing the kwacha, I welcomed the gesture of dropping the three zeroes from the currency. I also thought that resurrecting the once extinct coins would add that bling to the kwacha. I even began to prepare myself to start saying the word ngwee once again. One thing I was not prepared for is what an inconvenience coins would become.
There was once a time (about three months ago) when I treasured a K500 and K1, 000. My wallet used to be stacked to the bream with those plastic notes no matter how faded they were. It was what I used to pay the conductor for my bus fare, buy groundnuts by the road side or even give it away to someone in need. Now with these coins I can hardly find a K1 or 50 ngwee on me, what’s the sign for ngwee anyway? Each time I put them in my pocket they somehow find themselves slipping out. I have just eventually resorted to tossing them in my laptop bag and scouring for them when I am down to my last dime.
Each time I pay for my groceries at the supermarket I pray that the cashier will not give me those coins but then she goes ahead and pulls out a bunch of them as change. Just great. What am I supposed to do with K5 worth of coins? I am aware that they are the same value and can buy the same things that they could buy before the rebasing but I guess I just do not know how to handle them. Frankly, speaking the K1 and 50 ngwee, has now become what a K100 and K50 was then. I just don’t care much for them. The only currency that can now be found on me begins from K2. This is simply because it can fit in my wallet perfectly. I have tried squeezing coins in there and suddenly sitting down becomes a difficult affair because of the over bulged wallet. Maybe it high time that I bought a piggy bank.
Bank of Zambia had spent a lot of time in helping us understand the rebasing process and the value of the old currency into the new rebased one. However, the handling of the coins is one thing they overlooked. Therefore, was enough time taken to determine how the re-introduction of the coins would be received. If I was given the option of the paper K1 and the coin, I would most definitely go for the paper. I am yet to come across someone who is comfortable with the use of coins, most people I have talked to are simply saying that they just collecting them and stashing them away in a bottle jar. I am slowly considering doing the same. I even have an evil plan for what I will do when I have collected my jar of coins. I will go to the supermarket with a trolley full of groceries and after the cashier tells me my bill; I will gleefully remove my jar of coins to pay. Forgive me in advance, to the cashier I will find on that day.