This Bastille Day, the world awoke to news that a new independent nation had been declared. No, not Kurdistan or Catalonia or Scotland, but something called, in what is one of the more bizarre “micronations” to be founded in recent years, the Kingdom of North Sudan. Nor was it founded by any of the numerous rebel groups—Nubians, Darfuris, etc.—who are battling the genocidal regime that runs the Republic of Sudan.
|Bir Tawil is now the “Kingdom of North Sudan.”|
His children? Yes, well, this is sort of all about his children. The reason Heaton has made himself king of North Sudan is to fulfill a promise to his seven-year-old daughter, Emily Heaton. As the self-styled monarch told the press, “Over the winter, Emily and I were playing, and she has a fixation on princesses. She asked me, in all seriousness, if she’d be a real princess someday. And I said she would.”
|“Someday, princess, all this will be yours.”|
|Bir Tawil has attracted the attention of micronation hobbyists before,|
as in this image from a 2010 cybernation blog—but only King Jeremiah
has actually planted a flag there.
Africans, sadly, are used to white monarchs—most often, admittedly, legitimate ones—using their land to hand out as party favors to ease family relationships. One example is the Heligoland Treaty of 1890, in which Germany’s emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, swapped Zanzibar to Queen Victoria in exchange for the North Sea island of Heligoland and the Caprivi Strip territory (which, as discussed in an article on this blog, Germans could could use as a supply route between German South-West Africa, today’s Namibia, and German East Africa, today’s mainland Tanzania). That treaty included a special clause which threw a dogleg into German East Africa’s otherwise ruler-straight border with British Kenya, leaving Mt. Kilimanjaro on the Tanganyika side. This was done because Wilhelm, who was also Victoria’s grandson (yes, that eventually made things kind of awkward, oh, ’round about 1914), had been pouting about the fact that he didn’t own as many African mountains as his English cousins. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
But Jeremiah Heaton is hardly Kaiser Wilhelm II. In fact, even though the Kaiser’s facial hair is considered much more hip in 2014 than Heaton’s evenly trimmed full beard, Heaton nonetheless very commendably refrained from using mustard gas as a campaign tactic when he sought the Democratic nomination to represent Virginia’s 9th District in 2012.
Kaiser Wilhelm’s facial hair:hip in 1914, and in 2014
|King Jeremiah’s facial hair:|
As for Princess Emily, she seems determined to become a benevolent dictator (though with two brothers, she may never accede to the throne, at least under Salic Law). True, she is as pampered as any well-off little American girl and sleeps in a princess-themed canopy bed. But she has expressed concern that the people in and around her new realm have enough to eat. “That’s definitely a concern in that part of the world,” King Jeremiah told an interviewer. “We discussed what we could do as a nation to help. If we can turn North Sudan into an agricultural hub for the area—a lot of technology has gone into agriculture and water. These are the things [Emily and her brothers Prince Justin and Prince Caleb] are concerned with.”
|“And next, I want an Oompa Loompa, Daddy—and I want one right now!”|
|The supposed “Kingdom of North Sudan” is highlighted in blue.|
|Flag of coastal Sudan’s|
“Eastern Front” rebels
|Omar al-Bashir, Princess Emily’s new enemy|
|Sudan’s pro-government Janjaweed militia|
doesn’t like it when people get in their way.
Welcome to Africa, Emily!
As one might imagine, sometimes my friends and colleagues let me know about a news development before Google Alerts has a chance to. In this case, thanks are due to Susan Abe, Tea Krulos (author of Heroes in the Night), and Emperor George II (Empire of Atlantium; like it on Facebook) for calling this story to my attention.