The Rwandan Franc was introduced as the currency of Rwanda in 1964. Apart from its regular circulating coinage, the country has also authorised some foreign mints to issue coins under its jurisdiction, which come in a variety of sizes - including in the internationally popular silver ounce (1 oz silver) format, denominated usually as 50 Francs. Like any bullion coin though, their actual value is unrelated to the face value, and is based primarily on the metal content and the spot price of that metal on the commodities markets.
This coin is part of the Rwandan Lunar Ounce series dedicated to the Chinese Zodiac, and marks the 2021 Year of the Ox (12 February 2021 - 31 January 2022).
The Ox (牛) is the second of the 12-year periodic sequence (cycle) of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar, and also appears in related calendar systems. The Chinese term translated here as ox is in Chinese niú (牛), a word generally referring to cows, bulls, or neutered types of the bovine family, such as common cattle or water buffalo. The zodiacal ox may be construed as male, female, neutered, hermaphroditic, and either singular or plural.
The Year of the Ox is also denoted by the Earthly Branch symbol chǒu (丑). The term "zodiac" ultimately derives from an Ancient Greek term referring to a "circle of little animals". There are also a yearly month of the ox and a daily hour of the ox (Chinese double hour, 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.). Years of the oxen (cows) are cyclically differentiated by correlation to the Heavenly Stems cycle, resulting in a repeating cycle of five years of the ox/cow (over a sixty-year period), each ox/cow year also being associated with one of the Chinese wǔxíng, also known as the "five elements", or "phases": the "Five Phases" being Fire (火 huǒ), Water (水 shuǐ), Wood (木 mù), Metal (金 jīn), and Earth (土 tǔ). The Year of the Ox follows after the Year of the Rat (the first year of the zodiacal cycle) which happened in 2020 and is then followed by the Year of the Tiger, which happened in 2022.
Within a plain rim, the obverse of the coin features the Coat of Arms of Rwanda. At its centre is a traditional basket, surrounded by the central tribal devices: a stem of sorghum on the left, and a branch of a coffee tree on the right, surmounted on a cog wheel with the sun with its rays above. These are protected by two typical Rwandan shields, one on the right and one on the left. The design is encircled by a rope, tied below in a square knot.
On a ribbon above, REPUBULIKA Y'U RWANDA (Republic of Rwanda); on a ribbon below, the motto UBUMWE · UMURIMO · GUKUNDA IGIHUGU (Unity, Work, Patriotism in Kinyarwanda - the official Rwandan language).
Around above, the name of the issuing authority: BANKI NKURU Y'U RWANDA (National Bank of Rwanda; in French: Banque Nationale du Rwanda; abbreviated as BNR).
Around below, the face value AMAFARANGA 50 MIRONGO ITANU (50 FRW - fifty Rwandan Francs).
The reverse design depicts an ox, in a "stained glass" mosaic style common to all coins in the series.
Inscribed within an octagon above, the Chinese character for ox: 牛. Below the ox, YEAR OF THE OX.
Around left, the name of the coin series: LUNAR OUNCE.
Around above right, the date of issue 2021. Around below right, facing outward, the precious metal content: 1 oz FINE SILVER 999 (one troy ounce of 99.9% silver).