It can happen anywhere, I suppose. Ordinary citizens who are quietly minding their own business, living decent lives and doing no harm to man nor beast, go to bed one evening and when they get up next day discover they’re being ruled by a goat.
As I sit at my laptop writing this I can think of at least two great nations with proud histories that are currently each led by someone whose demeanour and behaviour compare unfavourably with your average goat. I’ll leave the identity of the nations and individuals in question to your imagination!
But it’s not just the big boys that make unconventional political choices. Mrs P was telling me the other day that while we’re in New Zealand we’ll be passing close to the tiny Republic of Whangamomona.
Heard of it? Probably not. You could check it out on a BIG map of New Zealand, but take care not to drop any biscuit crumbs or you’ll never find it.
In 1988 the citizens of this unremarkable little town on New Zealand’s North Island showed their contempt for the local council by declaring Whangamomona a republic. Eleven years later, Whangamomonans plainly decided that a further protest was required, at which point local goat Billy the Kid was elected the town’s first non-human president.
Billy was followed in office by Tai the Poodle and Murtle the Turtle, although when the latter died in 2015 Whangamomona seemed to suffer a crisis of confidence and elected one Vicki Pratt as president, albeit against her will.
I can’t help admiring free spirits, individuals and communities that don’t take themselves – or life in general – too seriously. For this reason we’ll be sure to take a side-trip to Whangamomona in a couple of weeks, and drop in at the local hotel for lunch and to get our passports stamped.
Stunts like this are harmless fun, and also good for business if they encourage people like us to visit and spend money there. Across the world communities are always on the look out for the big idea, something that will make them stand out from the crowd and get them on tourists’ itineraries. In Whangamomona it’s all about republicanism in general, and goats in particular.
By way of contrast, as we discovered to our amusement a couple of years ago, one small town in Newfoundland, Canada, has banked everything on calling itself Dildo to bring in crowds of curious punters all hoping to feel earth move.
Makes Whangamomona seem almost normal, doesn’t it?