Saturday, March 09, 2019


The logo of the Central Afghanistan Bank is restrained and unassuming. It is neither simplified to the level of an abstraction, as is the case with most Australian Banks, nor does it sport a garish colour scheme. It does not pretend to be your friend, assert that it is vitally concerned with helping your business team grow or funding your footy team and displays absolutely no interest in assisting you to maintain a work/life balance. At no stage does it intimate that you can talk to it if ever you are facing financial problems and it will certainly not ever attempt to sell you insurance. 

At the outset, someone who is not conversant with the Pashto language may be confused by the word “Da,” and mistake it for the Russian word meaning “yes.” Is this august financial institution thus implying that since by its very nature it is a positive affirmation, it will never react in the negative towards a loan application? Does this explain the dearth of mortgage brokers in the whole expanse of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan? Indeed, is the bank’s positive approach to lending an institutional strategy to obviate the need for royal banking inquiries? Possibly, although “Da” here means central and the bank, founded in 1939, is tasked with the weight responsibility of formulating, adopting and executing the monetary policy of Afghanistan, holding and managing the official foreign exchange reserves of Afghanistan and most significantly, printing and issuing Afghani banknotes and coins, in the local currency, which, unmistakably is the Afghani. 

It is, of course, to be lamented that more countries do not follow suit and foist their ethnic identities upon their coinage. I look forward to the day, should Australia ever emancipate itself from its American colonial overlords and become a republic, that the dollar is replaced with the Aussie. Similarly should Greece ever remove itself from the Eurozone in a blaze of patriotic passion, I eagerly anticipate renaming its currency from the euro to the ellinara.

In my view, the naming of the aforementioned respected banking institution thusly, is a well concealed subtle attempt at coolness and monopolization. To all intents and purposes, in Afghanistan, this is Da Bank, ergo, the only one worth mentioning. Fo shizz. Word.

A close look at the centre of Da Bank’s logo reveals that it depicts a coin of the Graeco-Bactrian King Eucratides, inscribed in Greek. This inscription, which also appears on all Afghani banknotes, issued by Da Bank, reads: «Βασιλέως Μεγάλου Εὐκρατίδου,» meaning: "Belonging to, or property of the Great King Eucratides." Two men riding horses bearing spears and palms are depicted within the inscription. These are Castor and Pollux, the divine twins. In times ancient, they were associated with the rite of θεοξενία, or "god-entertaining", where the two deities were summoned to a table laid with food, whether at individuals' own homes or in the public hearths or equivalent places controlled by states ad they would arrive on their horses, at a gallop. The implication is thus clear: pay your interest on time to Da Bank, or we will send the boys around….

Yet the presence of the Greek coin upon Afghan currency issued by Da Bank harbours broader implications. For if by its own admission, the Central Bank of Afghanistan admits that all of its banknotes belong to Great King Eucratides, then surely, after his demise, those banknotes become property of his estate. We know for instance that King Eucratides, who came to the throne by overthrowing Antimachos I in Bactria, while his son Demetrius was conquering northwestern India, was eventually overthrown and killed by one of his sons, either Eucratides II or Heliocles I, in a particularly bloody way. As Roman historian Marcus Junianus Justinus writes in his Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus:” But as he was returning from the country, he was killed on his march by his son, with whom he had shared his throne, and who was so far from concealing the murder, that, as if he had killed an enemy, and not his father, he drove his chariot through his blood, and ordered his body to be cast out unburied." 

At some stage, the Yuezhi, an Indo-Aryan people living in China took over Graeco-Bactria, killed Heiocles I and the dynasty fled variously to India, where the Indo—Greek kingdm persisted for another hundred years or so, and to China, where the Kingdom of Dayuan, (Great Ionia) endured, under Yuezhi and then Chinese suzerainty for a considerable period of time.
The fact is however, that at some stage, Eucratides’ descendants died out. In absence of any linear descendants, it is common legal practice to name next of kin as beneficiaries to his estate and in their absence, the linear successor to the state to which he belonged. Like all epigonoi, Eucratides could be said to rule in the name of Alexander and the Macedonian kingdom. The modern successor state to that Kingdom is the Republic of Greece. Thus, by logical implication, then surely this landlocked state’s legal tender, rightfully belongs to Greece.

It should be noted from the outset that the government of the nation that is ruled from the city of Skopje is estopped from emerging as a rival claimant to the Afghan banknotes, in great part thanks to the recently ratified Agreement of Prespa, where in article 7, that country concedes and acknowledges that its people having nothing to do with Ancient Macedonia, hence: “the official language and other attributes of [FYROM] are not related to the ancient civilization, history, culture and heritage of the northern region of [Greece]. “ Consequently, the Greek nation is thus the sole party entitled to collection and possession of the banknotes. Considering that according to the current exchange rate, 100 Afghanis purchase 1.18 Euros, whereas 100 “Macedonian” (sic) dinars purchase 1.62 Euros, the second party to the Prespa Agreement’s diplomatic and economic gaffe assumes epic proportions. It seems that the man without the tie knew was he was doing after all. Not for nothing does the name Eucratides ambiguously ranges in meaning from “he who rules well,” to “he would holds on well.”

For, fellow compatriots, thanks to the generosity of Da Bank in Afghanistan and the exalted leader of Modern Greece, re-namer of islands, signer of treaties and memoranda, we have struck it rich. This windfall is the most significant cache of coin to befall Greece since Artemis Sorras' discovery of the Greek soverign heritage fund. The hoard of Afghan legal tender literally is, ours for the taking. All that remains for us to do now, is merely prosaic: to figure out the logistics of how to wrest control of our banknotes from the mujaheddin, the warlords and the Taliban. As key stakeholders and inheritors of the majesty of the Macedonian epigonoi, I nominate the various Pan-Macedonian associations throughout the world as the most appropriate entities to take receipt of the funds and convey them to the motherland, where they can be used to set up a foundation that will highlight the Greek character of Macedonia and fund projects for Macedonian scholars to emphasize their Macedonian-ness.
Alternatively, considering that last time substantial funds came in from the east was in Alexander’s time, with Darius III’s Persian gold reserves causing rampant inflation and a crippling economic crisis, the Eucratidean funds could be appropriated by the Greek government in order to create a foundation, bearing their originator’s name: “The Eucratidean [Good Government] foundation.” The possibilities are endless. After all, ἔστιν οὖν λεφτὰ καὶ ἡ Μακεδονία.. Now let’s make sure that we get those contact details right: cc. Subject: Ta Lefta. Dear Sirs…….


First published in NKEE on Saturday 9 March 2019