Comedian Steve Hili decided to declare himself Emperor of the micronation Zooxaloo
If, like me, you’ve seen – and fallen in love with – the movie Rose Island on Netflix, then you know where this news is going. Rose Island is the charming, quirky, somewhat crazy tale of a young Italian man who decides to stick it to the corrupt system by creating his own little slab of paradise, just 11kms off the Italian coast of Rimini. The island, I should add, is fashioned like an oil rig, and we are treated to a hair-raising account of the young engineer’s first night there, when the Adriatic Sea decides to unleash its full fury.
So, what does this have to do with Steve Hili, Malta’s enfant terrible of comedy? Well, some people reacted to lockdown by baking bread. Hili reacted by appointing himself emperor of a new micronation called Zooxaloo. A bit like Rose Island, but way crazier. I had a quick chat with Hili to find out more (and to call him out on the nose that’s not quite a nose on the national flag he’s adopted).
Basically, he explains, the idea of creating a micronation comes from a sort of legal loophole within the Montevideo convention of 1933, which allows you to declare yourself a nation if you have a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states. And Hili assures me that Zooxaloo has got all that, including 19 citizens up to date.
Check out my video interview – it’s all a bit of silly fun, of course. You can go through Zooxaloo’s constitution on the official website, apply for citizenship, and ask to visit the land itself. Though be warned, the land does take the shape of Hili’s Nissan Micra (micronation, geddit?), so maybe best not expect too much in that department.
I say that it’s all a bit of silly fun, but there’s more to Zooxaloo than the face value. Hili’s idea is to use the platform to satirise other nations, tackling serious themes like corruption. Moreover, he says, there’s one unyielding condition to becoming citizen of Zooxaloo – you must be a nice person. Hili is also taking an environmental approach with this project, supporting some worthy causes. But more about that in the video interview.
Check out what else is happening in Malta, with this piece about Opening Doors, a review of a staycation at the Embassy Valletta Hotel, or this new historical document called Il-Muxrafija.