CBK Governor has the final say on ‘banki-benki’ debate

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Patrick Njoroge has explained how the government decided on spelling the word ‘bank’ as ‘banki’ in Swahili.

Prof Njoroge says the decision was made between the years 1964 to 1966 during the first proposal to translate Central Bank of Kenya to Banki ya Katikati ya Kenya.

However, the then Permanent Secretary of Finance John Michuki rejected the translation and referred the matter to the Minister for Economic Planning Tom Mboya, who proposed that it be translated as Banki Kuu ya Kenya.

Banknote II - CBK Governor has the final say on ‘banki-benki’ debate
The new Kenyan banknote for Sh50 with the contentious word ‘benki’. PHOTO | COURTESY


He also maintained that this was okay since it was a translation of an English word, hence ‘banki’ and ‘benki’ were both correct.

“The first proposal was to translate the institution’s name to Banki ya Katikati ya Kenya. Mr Michuki (PS Finance) gently rejected it and referred the question to Mr Mboya, who proposed that it be translated as Banki Kuu,” Prof Njoroge said on Thursday during a press conference at the Central Bank of Kenya headquarters in Nairobi.

“Mr Mboya, the Minister for Economic Planning, maintained that it was the translation of an English word, so ‘Banki’ and ‘Benki’ were both correct. It was decided deliberately that on currency, ‘Banki Kuu ya Kenya’ comes before Central Bank of Kenya,” he added.


He also insisted that there would be no extension of the October 1, 2019 deadline for the withdrawal of the old Sh1,000 notes.

The online community spent the better part of Wednesday bashing the CBK for what they called a grammatical ‘error’ on the newly printed banknotes.

Many of them were of the opinion that ‘banki’, as spelled on the notes, should have been ‘benki’. Going as far as comparing Tanzania’s banknotes which use the word ‘benki’.

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