Other Cities: Bas-Toutou, Haut-Marchand, M’losse-ville, Matombe, Port Volaire.
Government: Royal Republic (Representational Republic with hereditary King as ruling head-of-state)
Major National Holidays: Foundation Day – February 10 (1953); Constitution Day – April 7 (1958); Coming of Age Day – June 1; King’s Birthday – August 3; Family Day – September 1; Culture Day – November 15.
Maiolese Population: 2.7 million (1960)
Age of Majority: 15
Official Languages: French, English, Maiolese
Flag: Sky blue ground with black border and central stylized pentagonal gold crown of Maio with three red jewels. Blue represents the clear sky and the future, black represents the heritage of its citizens, the yellow crown represents the hereditary King of Maio and the three red jewels represent, from left to right: Industry, Learning and Agriculture.
Currency: Maiolese Franc (MFr)
The Maiolese people have a long and complicated history. The area comprising the modern-day République du Maio has always been populated by members of three main tribes: the Maio, the Matombe and the M’losse. In the late middle ages (circa 1400-1600 CE), the Maio and Matombe combined under the Maio king Mbw’wele to form what would essentially become the Maio Nation in order to defend themselves against encroachment by both European powers and Arab slavers. The M’losse–protected by the natural barrier of the high mountain plateaus of the interior where they live–remained independent throughout. By the mid 19th Century, however, the Maiolese had been claimed and colonized like most of the rest of Africa. Interestingly, the Maio were subjugated by the French and the M’losse by the British. This caused no small amount of friction over the years between the two colonial rivals.
As the great world empires began unraveling following the Second World War, Maio too had its turn for independence. Incredibly, the Maiolese monarchy had maintained itself in one form or another through all the intervening centuries, and the King began working feverishly to consolidate both his own power and maintain the ethnic and territorial integrity of the country. By 1948, the British who by then were only nominally involved on the M’losse plateau, were more than willing to grant an ordered independence. But the French had no such sense of magnanimity. The King and the “Government in Exile” he had formed took refuge among the M’losse while attempting to get the French to see reason–whether through diplomatic, economic or military means. Numerous small uprisings against the French colonial establishment punctuated the years from 1948-1951 until finally the French Military Commandant of the country, General Henri de Marchand, sided with the King and helped him to establish his government at a town just inside the Maio border–which became the first “National” capital, now known as Haut-Marchand in the general’s honor. The French colonial office–occupied with bigger issues and more important colonies elsewhere–relented and agreed to a one-year transition period beginning Sunday, February 10, 1952.
After a flurry of activities, including transitioning of infrastructure, building of the new capital at Maioville, elections for the Chambre des Députés and all the other things that go into nation building, the last French Colonial Governor, Messr. DuChamp, and King Ma’tumbe the Third signed the independence declaration at a peaceful ceremony right on schedule Tuesday, February 10, 1953. National celebrations lasted for 5 days.
Those heady days of independence proved to be short-lived. A resurgence of inter-tribal pride boiled over into political chaos and in some cases armed rioting from 1954-56. In late 1956, the Chambre des Députés speakership passed to a pro-Soviet faction backed by the newly resurgent Matombe. This led to closer ties with the USSR including purchase of military equipment, much of which remains in use today. However, after discovery of widespread corruption within the government, the citizenry themselves–regardless of tribal affiliation–resoundingly voted the government out. Fortunately, the mostly neutral military sided with the people and there followed a very brief military operation resulting in capture or liquidation of all high-profile members of the former regime. Immediately, a new Constitution was drawn up changing the power structure within the government and Chambre des Députés and returning the powers of head of state to the King. The constitution was ratified by popular plebiscite on Monday, April 7th, 1958, receiving 94% approval from throughout the country.
Today, Maio is decidedly pro-Western. The King and government have worked tirelessly to create peace and stability within the country, attracting foreign investment and tourists. Cordial relations have once again been established with France who remains the country’s largest trading partner. Unlike many of its neighbors, Maio has seen very little inter-tribal strife as economic and educational opportunities have flourished for the citizens.
Equipment: Mostly French and Soviet. Armored forces based on T-55 series tanks and various French armored cars and APCs. Vehicles are painted in a sandy olive drab color and may be oversprayed with a dark gray-green camouflage pattern, though smaller vehicles and those of the Gendarmerie Nationale are usually left plain.
Uniforms: Standard olive green field gear with assorted headwear ranging from helmets to caps to various colored berets. Garde Républicaine uniforms feature sky blue shoulder straps and dark red berets. Interestingly, the unique M’losse Militia forces of the country’s interior often prefer to take the field as their ancestors did—completely naked. They believe it increases their fighting prowess, bravery, purity of purpose and spiritual link with their forefathers (although unlike those ancestors, they are armed with modern weaponry). The paramilitary Gendarmerie Nationale wear khaki shirts/jackets with black trousers and sky blue berets.
Major Industries: Mining, Rubber, Forestry, Tourism, Agricultural Products (especially tea and coffee). A concentrated effort–sponsored by the King himself–is being made to increase the country’s expertise in the growing “high-tech” sector.
One of the several large tea plantations on the high M’losse plateau. Originally founded under British colonial rule, the plantations are now thriving and provide for one of the more famous Maiolese exports.
Coming of Age:
A unique cultural and social aspect of the Maiolese People is their recognition of adulthood at an earlier age than most other cultures, and in the rites and celebrations that surround Coming of Age. A Maiolese child becomes an adult and full citizen at the age of 15. The choice of the age of 15 traces its roots back to the ancient belief that every child has three people that contribute to his or her life: a mother, a father and the child himself. Each of these people “reaches out their hand” to help that person become an adult and since the human hand has five digits, this adds up to 15.
National Coming of Age Day is held on June 1st, and celebrates the Coming of Age of each child who has turned or will turn 15 in that calendar year. As this holiday is meant to present the child as an adult in front of his community and fellow citizens, the rituals are performed in groups. June 1st has been the traditional date for this celebration since it is the first day of the middle month of the year, symbolizing the passage from the first “half” of one’s life as a child to the second “half” as an adult.
Children actually born on June 1st are considered to be very blessed. In addition to the Coming of Age rituals, June 1st has also understandably become a very popular day for marriage ceremonies and announcements of engagements.
Learning and education have always been a central value to Maiolese culture as symbolized by the second jewel in the Maiolese crown. Even in ancient times, the Maio people had formalized education for their children. This continues today with some of the most highly regarded schools and educational programs on the African continent.
All Maiolese children begin their formal education at the age of four at Primary School which is compulsory through the age of ten. This corresponds to the western equivalent of both Elementary and Middle School. Students then attend Finishing School–equivalent to western High School–until the age of 15. As children are expected to complete their main public schooling prior to their Coming of Age, the educational pace tends to be more accelerated than in the west.
Beyond this schooling, adults may enter University and study for advanced degrees. Most prestigious is the Université Royale du Maio in Maioville, but there are three others in the country: the Université Nationale in Matombe, the Institut Mbw’wele in Haut-Marchand and the Université Polytechnique in Bas-Toutou. Entrance to any of these is through highly competitive national entrance examinations with a limited number of students granted admission at the start of the new term each January.
However, University attendance is not the only way learning continues among adults, as there are numerous vocational, continuing and mentoring programs throughout the country that are affordable, of high quality and well attended.
General Henri de Marchand (b. 1910-), last French Colonial Military Commandant of Maio who assisted the King in establishing the Native Government in 1951. The site of the first national capital has grown to become the city of Haut-Marchand, named in his honor.
A young M’losse militiaman holding two examples of the AK-47, standard infantry weapon of the République. Photographs such as this cause much concern in the west, but it must be remembered that citizens of the République reach adulthood at the age of 15 and many young people end up serving in the military.
A Maiolese Army T-55 tank on coastal defense training maneuvers near Port Volaire. Purchased in large quantities during the brief time period of the Pro-Soviet regime prior to establishment of the new constitution, they remain the backbone of Maiolese armored forces today.
A brand-new AMX-10RC armored car of the Garde Républicaine during field acceptance trials in the vicinity of Matombe. Highly mobile and extremely well armed, this vehicle allows for hard-hitting, rapid deployment. At initial delivery, these units were painted in an experimental brown camouflage pattern that has since been changed to the usual dark green.