Thursday, August 29, 2013

Who wants to be a millionaire? No one here.

In college I was a huge fan of the television show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I used to call in and attempt to get selected as a contestant frequently. I was never on the show, but I was more interested in the competition aspect and bragging rights more so than the money. Though I still can’t say I won, I can now say I am a millionaire. In fact, I'm not just a millionaire; I'm a BILLIONAIRE!!!

Have you ever seen a 100 billion dollar bill? No? Ok, well here you go:

This was GIVEN to me by a friend I made here in Zimbabwe. It wasn't a loan and I didn't pay him for it, he just gave it to me.  Now I can officially say I am a billionaire. Unfortunately that does not have a very positive connotation here.

Prior to my trip to Zimbabwe I investigated what type of currency I needed to obtain and the exchange rate. I was surprised to find out I didn't have to worry about changing money because there is no national currency here anymore. Instead US dollars are primarily used, though many outlets are also willing to accept South African Rand, Euros, and in some cases, Botswana Pula. But change is only given in US dollars.
In 2009 Zimbabwe stopped issuing the Zimbabwean dollar due to the fact inflation had become so extreme. In July 2008 a single US dollar was equivalent to 758,530,000,000 Zimbabwean dollars. Around the same time the cost of an egg was about 50 billion dollars. I suppose you would have to take a briefcase full of money to the store when you did your grocery shopping.

After continual hyperinflation over years and three attempts at redenomination, Zimbabwe eventually gave up and decided to retire their currency altogether. It is practically impossible to get hold of these old bills anymore unless you find a local who has one.  The government took them out of circulation and they have all been archived, though it is unlikely they will ever be used again.
So, I guess the moral of the story is to be careful what you wish for. Here in Zimbabwe when they used to have their own currency it became useless almost as soon as it was issued. Can you imagine getting a paycheck and then realizing it wasn't even enough to do your weekly shopping because the value of money had dropped so dramatically?


  1. Hi Kelly, I have really enjoyed keeping up with your adventures in Africa and I couldn't resist commenting on this story. We have you beat. Jim's son recently traveled to Zimbabwe and brought him back an authentic 100 trillion dollar bill. Too bad it won't buy anything. I can't wait to hear more about your trip and I hope you have an opportunity to see Victoria Falls when the water is at its highest. Love you, Aunt Ellen

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