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The Katanga Cross: A Symbol of Currency and Cultural Identity

In the heart of the Democratic Republic of the Congo lies the Katanga Cross, a unique cultural artifact that transcends its role as a currency to become a symbol of heritage and resilience. This blog post unravels the story behind the Katanga Cross, exploring its historical significance, craftsmanship, and enduring legacy. 

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Kantanga region was not only rich in copper but also home to a distinctive form of currency - the Katanga Cross of handa. Crafted in the copper workshops of Katanga, these ingots took the shape of equal-armed crosses, approximately 20 cm in size and weighing around 1kg. Beyond their practical use, these crosses held significant value in trade, often exchanged for commodities such as flour, fowls, or axes. 

The crafting of the Katanga Cross was a testament to the skilled artisans of the region. Meticulously shaped and forged from the abundant copper resources, these crosses reflected not only economic transactions but also the rich cultural tapestry of Katanga. The symbolism embedded in the cross extended beyond its utilitarian purpose, marking it as a cultural icon with deep roots in the local heritage. 

As Katanga declared secession in 1960, the Katanga Cross took a new role as a national symbol. It found its place on the state's flag and coins becoming a visual representation of Katanga's identity and autonomy. However, this period of self-governance was short-lived, as Katanga was forcefully reunified with the large Congo in 1963. Despite the political challenges, the Katanga Cross endured as a symbol of resilience and cultural pride. 

The Katanga Cross has not faded into obscurity but rather gained recognition on a global scale. Beyond its historical use as currency and national emblem, the cross has become a cherished artifact, appreciated by collectors, historians, and art enthusiasts. Its unique design, crafted by the hands of Katanga artisans, tells a story of a region rich in resources, culture, and the indomitable spirit of its people.