Melvyn Kalma's cult of personality
Melvyn Kalma’s cult of personality was and is still a major element of the politics of the Federacy of the Cape. Although initiated by himself during the final years of his rule to cement his legacy as the first Chief of the Republic and Prime Executive of the Cape and the legacy of his reforms, it was continued and popularized extensively by members of his own Republican Nationalist Party and the regime of the National Reclamation Government. It has been described as the “world’s longest-running personality cult”.
Melvyn Kalma led the National Revolutionary Army in the Capetian War of Independence in the final years of the 19th century, defeating both Kiravia and Cartadanian Natalia to achieve Capetian independence by 1901. Under his leadership as both first head of state and head of government, the modern Capetian republic, the Federacy of the Cape, was declared.
Under his leadership as Prime Executive, Kalma embarked on a variety of reforms, Occidentalizing the Cape, and laying the groundwork for Cape nationalism and the birth of a coherent national identity from the three ethnicities that composed the country. To these ends, Kalma secularized the state, enacted a Western code of fundamental rights, instituted industrializing reforms, and promoted Cape Coscivian - a form of mutually intelligible creole popular in the southern Cape Peninsula - into a national language. Doing so, he is credited by many Capetians today for transforming the Cape into a modern nation state governed as a constitutional republic.
Following his death he was honoured with a variety of titles by the Supreme National Assembly, including “the Father of the Nation”, “Father of the Fatherland”, “the Marshal”, and “the Great Teacher”. He is known simply in Capetian vernacular as Prezident - “the President”, held in contrast to the term Restarkima, the modern term for the Capetian presidency. He still holds the eternal chairmanship of his Republican Nationalist Party.
Kalma’s legacy remains arguably the central element of Capetian politics into the 21st century. Almost every Capetian city has streets named after him, a memorial in his honour, with statues and portraits found in city squares, classrooms, public offices, and Capetian embassies abroad. A large mausoleum in his honour, the Mausoleum of the National Father, sits above Cape Town, and the city of Kalmasar, home to a majority of the Federacy’s ministries and its bureaucracy, bears his name.
Although his cult of personality has been compared to that of Linge Chen in 21st century Corumm, Kalma’s cult differs as it was largely constructed after his death and in honour of his progressive and democratic reforms. He remains immensely popular in the Capetian consciousness, with every government and military coup following his death invoking his memory and contributing to the cult.
Kiravian journalist V. X. Xoman remarked that:
Thanks to him, every Capetian lives in a society that would have not existed without his effort. The legacy of his influence bears heavily on the nation. Sure, images of his face may appear in almost all official contexts from the headers of high-school exam papers to the largest banknotes - but they also appear spontaneously as fresheners hanging from car mirrors, in posters that adorn supermarkets, and in portraits that appear everywhere from private homes to the chicest of Cape Town cafes.
Kalma’s legacy has been invoked by every government since his death. Similar to the cult of the Marble Emperor in Kiravia, Kalma’s name is used to lend legitimacy to state actions and ideologies that he, as a deceased person, could not possibly agree to. For example, his name was used by both the Communist insurgency of the 1990s and the government that opposed it; the former appealing to his ideations of worker-liberation and the latter appealing to his ideas of nationalism and unity.
Constitutional amendments proposed in the Supreme National Assembly begin with “in the honour of great Kalma”, and the phrase “as decreed by the National Father” is used before the delivery of the Miranda rights.
Appeals to his authority (known colloquially as appeals to Kalma) are common in Capetian politics. In instrumental terms, his name has been used successively by military leaders to overthrow elected governments. In ceremonial terms, every military coup concludes with an address to Kalma, and addresses opening a new convocation of the National Stanera are delivered at his Mausoleum and occasionally addressed to him.
Kalma’s legacy is protected under the 1951 Constitution of the Federacy of the Cape, which declares illegal “insults towards his reforms, memory, and legacy”. Laws passed since have criminalized criticisms of his memory and are punishable with up to a year in prison and a fine of ₴100,000 Saers. In 2023, 14 people were charged under this law.
A variety of parallels have been drawn between his cult and that of Kiravia’s Marble Emperor.
Coscivian nationalist historiography has asserted the “artificial” supplementation of the Marble Emperor with Melvyn Kalma in the consciousness of ethnically Coscivian Capetians by the Capetian state.