Origin of the Phrase “Sina Hela”.

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“Sina hela”, implying having no money, being broke. The origin? The Heller currency in German Tanganyika and the larger German East Africa. As a consequence of decimalisation, the Heller was introduced and in use from 1904-1918. 1 Rupie/1 Indian rupee = 100 Heller.

Rule of Tanganyika switched from Germany to Britain but ‘hela’ stuck even after the introduction of shillings and cents. Because of close proximity and trade, the term ‘hela’ was in use on Kenyan territory too. Among the Mijikenda, ‘kahela’ were cents with holes in the middle.

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