There is a growing rise in independence movements across the globe from Calexit in California to the Cape Independence movement in South Africa. Demonstrating this greater recognition of independence movements, I helped craft, as a co-committee chair of the Calexit organization, Yes California’s speech of solidarity for the Cape Party in South Africa. The speech expresses solidarity for the independence cause and points out the shared values between Calexit and the Cape Independence movement as well as shared traits between the two regions.
There are many similarities between the Cape Region and California including geography, a similar Mediterranean climate. Both are also centers of innovation in tech and entertainment and centers of international trade. Both are major wine producing regions. Further: there are historic parallels such as both regions having experienced a “gold rush”, similar outdoor activities such as surfing, and both regions have long been lands of opportunity for their people, attracting immigrants from all over the world to become two of the most diverse places on earth. Cape Town has also been compared to San Francisco, as far as being the LGBT capital of Africa, and like California is one of the most tolerant places towards ethnic and cultural diversity.
I recently interviewed Cape Party Youth Leader Lucas Janse Van Vuuren about the cause for Cape Independence. The Cape Party was founded in 2007 to pursue independence for the Western Cape through the legal process of the South African Constitution that guarantees self-determination. Besides the Western Cape province, there is the potential option for other regions to join through municipal referendums.
As with Calexit, Cape Independence is rapidly growing support, with a poll from August of 2020 showing support for independence from 1 in 2 of Western Cape citizens, 2 out of 3 of voters from the Democratic Alliance (the main opposition party that is dominant in the Western Cape), and substantial support among all races, with Coloured voters making up the majority of independence supporters. This is a multi-racial movement that, unfortunately like many other independence movements has been falsely smeared, but shares the same California values of diversity and inclusion.
The recent civil unrest in the KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces has led to greater economic hardship, disruption to supply chains, looting, and violence, and with ever increasing corruption, South Africa is showing signs of becoming a failed stated. There are increasingly a number of people, including the most educated and high skilled workers looking to leave the country. Under one party rule, authoritarian policies such as land expropriation without compensation and the outlawing of private health insurance have been proposed.
This crisis vindicates the cause of an independent Cape, much like how America’s civil unrest of the summer of 2020, the capitol hill riots, and the subsequent civil liberties crackdown has vindicated the cause of California independence. The Western Cape, for the most part, escaped the civil unrest in South Africa, underscoring how it like California could thrive independently. The region is relatively safe, low in corruption, and prosperous compared to the rest of nation, and is the only province not under one party ANC municipal control. There has also been an increased amount of publicity for the independence cause with many South Africans looking to relocate to the Western Cape.
Like California, the Western Cape has suffered from economic servitude to a nation that does not respect their land, people, and values. They are being both economically and culturally robbed, with the suppression of the Afrikaans language spoken by a majority of the region’s citizens. There has been an importation of a harmful culture war from America as both America and South Africa have failed to respect these distinct regional differences of many peoples and cultures within their nation. For instance racial tension in South Africa have gotten much worse recently with the Indian community in Durban being singled out for racial violence but this is not the case in the Western Cape where a poll conducted by Plus94, found that the region “is the least racist province in South Africa.”
Diversity is valued by both California and the Cape region as the cultural exchanges amongst different groups has led to greater innovation and prosperity. The Cape Party advocates for a more decentralized system of distributed power based upon the Swiss Canton model, taking into account the specific needs of immensely diverse peoples of the region, including the minorities of Cape Malay, English, and Afrikaans, and the mixed race Coloured who make up about half of the population. The objective is to have more self-governorship and self-determination on a neighborhood level with the benefit of this decentralized model being to prevent one group from imposing their will upon another, improving relations among all communities. This is very similar to the pan-enclavism that I proposed for California and the United States as a way to manage the greater balkanization that is fueling tension and polarization in America.
Both the United States and South Africa have histories of displacement of indigenous peoples and both the California Independence movement and Cape Party place a strong emphasis on indigenous rights issues. The Cape Party places an emphasis on the history of the indigenous Khoisan people who have been neglected, marginalized, and impoverished to this day and the Calexit group Yes California, which put out the Cape Party solidarity video, calls for the return of land to the indigenous Californians.
Both regions have their problems but would be better off independent, including both political freedom and economic and prosperity. It is good to see greater interest in decentralization both in the form of independence movements and the growing trend for decentralization within a nation. Similarly, it is heartening to witness the making of international friendships between causes of self-determination.