Sure, Will Smith repurposed Bill Withers’ classic Just the Two of Us as an ode to his son Trey. And yes, even more recently, Jay Z included both the heartbeat and cries of his baby daughter Blue Ivy Carter on the track Glory, released a few days after she was born. But do both these acts of fatherly Hollywood magnanimity and largesse not fade into insignificance when compared with the actions of one American father, who “claimed” an African “kingdom” so his daughter could be a “princess”?
You read that right. A Virginia father, Jeremiah Heaton, flew to Africa for the express purpose of claiming the 800 square miles that make up Bir Tawil, a desert territory that falls between the borders of Egypt and Sudan. Heaton travelled for 14 hours in a caravan in order to plant the flag (designed by his children) on the soil of Bir Tawil, an act that he reckons makes his claim more legitimate than previous attempts made online. The children have decided to name it the “Kingdom of North Sudan”. His daughter, “Princess” Emily, seven, has said she wants to ensure children in the region have enough food (Bir Tawil itself is uninhabited).
The immediate question for the rest of us has to be: “Are white people still allowed to do this kind of stuff in 2014?” Heaton has said: “I feel confident in the claim we’ve made. That’s the exact same process that has been done for thousands of years. The exception is this nation was claimed for love.”
If ever there were a deed that exemplified the term “white privilege”, surely this is it. It is almost as if Heaton and his children have never watched the Disney classic Pocahontas, in which the Native American princess sings to would-be coloniser John Smith: “You think you own whatever land you land on.
But if you want to make your child feel special and loved – as Heaton wanted to do – surely a princess makeover would suffice. When did the phrase “daddy’s little princess” pass from vaguely creepy societal saying into a literal thing? It also begs the question: where next for Emily Heaton? What can you get a child after you’ve “given” them a country of their own? A Build-a-Bear party with six of her friends will not slake her inevitable thirst for power now. Nothing will. There is nowhere else to go on the gift-giving scale. What have ye wrought, Jeremiah Heaton?
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Bim Adewunmi for the Guardian