After a thought-provoking visit in the Imizamo Yethu township in Cape Town, my friend Ingrid and I hopped off the bus at Hout Bay, for us a random stop along the ocean. It seemed the right place to be for a little while, just wandering along the beach, clearing the mind. I loved all the blue: the ocean, the sky, the fishing boats.
What’s more, Hout Bay is, or was, a micronation. Some say this was merely a publicity stunt created to draw tourists in the 80s, others claim it was a left-wing artists’ protest against apartheid. Whatever the reason, the Republic of Hout Bay had its own flag, national anthem, dress, and passport. These days, only the passport remains.
A few rumours persist: during apartheid, white South Africans used Republic of Hout Bay passports to visit African countries that at the time didn’t recognise South African passports. Furthermore, a local is said to have travelled half the world on his Hout Bay passport.
World at a Glance is an infrequent series here on Sophie’s World, short posts, normally with just one photo, portraying curious, evocative, happy, sad, wondrous, unexpected little encounters.
I’ve always wanted to travel to South Africa, I’ll definitely put this on my bucklist of places to visit when I finally fly the long distance to the cape, thanks for sharing.
If you’ll be in Cape Town, it’s an interesting stop.
Might be wrong but don’t think it was a publicity stunt for tourists. Not in the 80s anyway.
I think you may be right. Many of the residents seem to have been prominent activists during apartheid.
How many people live in the micronation? Sounds interesting.
Interesting question – and one that’s not altogether easy to answer. Various sources give wildly varying numbers. According to a census from 2001, the official population was about 23 000. Considering that the township of Imizamo Yethu, with many unofficial residents, is part of Hout Bay, the real number is estimated to be about 60 000.
Looks like a place to relax. It’s interesting they had their own passport, national anthem etc. being a small community.
Definitely a place to chill.
Lovely photo – the water in South Africa always looks so inviting!
Yes, I thought so, too – so beautiful and so many shades of blue.
I’ve never heard of the place before but they went t a lot of work to create an identity. I wonder if it was worthwhile.
These days it’s more of a curiosity, I imagine. Of the micro nations around the world, some seem to be just for fun; others have developed as a form of civil/social protest – it’s an intriguing phenomenon, I think.
Wow…interesting post. Never knew about this place. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Sophie,I’ve been to Hout Bay and enjoyed its beautiful sceneries, but I didn’t know its story of being a micronation. That’s very interesting. Thanks for the history lesson.
Pretty interesting! I would be curious to see what other countries think of that. But a pretty cool idea on how to get into Africa back in the day :).
It would be neat to have one as a novelty.
I had a RHB passport. Participating businesses in town would give you a discount upon presentation of your passport, and stamp it too. Upon acquiring a certain number of stamps you could claim a free RHB pennant from the gift shop that doubled as the tourist information bureau.
How cool! Gotta like such a spirit of defiance.
This is so cool. Where can I get one of these passports?
I just checked and it seems they are still available in Hout Bay.
Really? Which shop exactly? I’d like to get a couple
Been 8 years since I was there, and wrote this post. I suggest you contact Hout Bay Tourism and check if they still have them: https://www.instagram.com/p/BqWqMfznuTW/