Katanga Cross

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A Katanga Cross.

A Katanga cross, also called a handa, is a cast copper cross which was once used as a form of currency in parts of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Katanga crosses were made in various sizes, typically about 20 cm (8 inches) across, and weighing about 1 kilogram (2 pounds). The name derives from Katanga, a rich copper mining region in the south-eastern portion of the DRC.[1]

These X-shaped ingots were cast by local coppersmiths by pouring molten copper into sand molds.

A mould of a Katanga Cross.

Original value[edit]

During its period of currency, a Katanga cross would buy about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of flour, five or six fowls, or six axes. Ten would buy a gun.[Opitz-p.124]

Modern uses[edit]

Katanga crosses appear in the Flag of Katanga, used by the State of Katanga (1960-1963), now the Province of Katanga.

In 1960, the Katanga Province of Congo-Léopoldville unilaterally declared independence as the State of Katanga. Three red katanga crosses appeared in the lower hoist of the flag. That flag is used currently by the Province of Katanga. The state issued its own coins in 1961 that, as a homage to their heritage, depicted the Katanga Cross. The State of Katanga was forcibly reunited with The Congo in 1963.

See also[edit]