“I like to put it simply,” says Randy “R Dub!” Williams, a late-night “slow jams” DJ from San Diego who’s also known as “the Sultan of Slowjamastan.” “I ran out of countries, so I created my own.”
A broadcaster by night, Williams has spent his life attempting to visit every country in the world. With just one UN-recognized nation left to visit, he decided to buy an 11.07-acre plot of empty arid land in the California desert to build a new “country” named after his radio show.
Wearing his best suit and sunglasses, the sultan of Slowjamastan officially declared independence from the United States of America at 12:26 p.m. on December 1, 2021 as he broadcast the secession live from his open-air government “office” in Dublândia, the capital of the Republic of Slowjamastan.
Two years on, and while the Sultan of Slowjamastan has instigated more than a few bizarre laws (he’s outlawed the wearing of Crocs, for example), the Republic also has all the trappings of a fledgling nation-state. It issues its own passports, flies its own flag, prints its own currency (“the duble”), and has a national anthem that’s played on state occasions.
The Republic of Slowjamastan even claims over 500 registered citizens, while 4,500 more are said to have been conditionally approved or are waiting in line for citizenship. Now that Williams is set to complete his lifetime goal of visiting every country in the world, he’s inviting tourists to visit the Republic of Slowjamastan as he plans to create the world’s foremost “micronation.”
The Sultan of Slowjamastan
“When I’m not on the radio, I’m probably traveling to a country most haven’t heard of,” Williams told CNN not long before heading on a trip to Turkmenistan, the final country on his list of 193 UN-recognized nations. “One of the reasons I created Slowjamastan was because, after 193 countries, I wanted a 194th!”
Officially named The United Territories of The Sovereign Nation of The People’s Republic of Slowjamastan, Williams’ self-declared “country” is located off California State Route 78, a two-and-a-half-hour drive northwest of San Diego. The small plot of land isn’t much more than desert, but Williams has erected an enormous “Welcome to Slowjamastan” sign by the highway, he’s built a border control post and flies the colorful Slowjamastan flag above his ministerial office, which is currently open to the elements.
Williams was inspired to create his own country after visiting various “micronations” – self-declared territories often run by eccentric leaders – on his world travels.
In August 2021, Williams visited the Republic of Molossia, an 11.3-acre micronation in Nevada that declared independence from the United States of America in 1998, where he was given a personal tour by “His Excellency President Kevin Baugh.” He learned about the Republic of Molossia’s ongoing “war” with now-defunct East Germany, how the local currency (the “valora”) is backed by chocolate chip cookie dough instead of gold, and had his passport stamped and his photo taken on the “border” with the United States.
When he returned home to San Diego, Williams immediately began drawing up grand plans for his own micronation. In October 2021, he purchased a plot of land for $19,000 and by December had declared Slowjamastan’s independence.
A dictatorship in the desert
“We’re a dictatorship most of the time,” Williams says, as he explains his Republic’s system of “government.” “On occasion, we’ll hold special voting ceremonies and referendums. Recently, I allowed citizens to vote on what should be our national fruit, sport, and even what our national animal should be named.”
It might seem quite paradoxical for a “republic” to have a dictatorial sultan as its head of state, but that’s the point. Williams’ travels have taken him to some of the world’s most curious destinations, and he’s seen firsthand the bizarre cults of personality and contradictions that exist in places like The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.
Williams likes to pose for photographs and make public addresses wearing his bright green sultan’s uniform, complete with faux military awards, golden epaulets and tinted sunglasses. He hires “border guards” and surrounds himself with “security” when he hosts events in the Republic of Slowjamastan and enforces a list of prohibitions that all citizens and visitors have to follow in order to avoid “banishment.” Currently, these prohibitions include “Crocs,” “mumble rap” and “people who put their feet on the dashboard.”
The Sultan of Slowjamastan’s character and dress is Williams’ way of highlighting the absurdities found in politics and dictatorships, and there’s a long line of people ready to share in his micronational experiment. People can apply for citizenship and cabinet positions via the Slowjamastan website, and it’s proven exceptionally popular, with a backlog of applications numbering into the thousands.
He’s now opened the border to tourists, too, and he tells CNN Travel how the most popular activities include taking selfies in front of the Slowjamastan sign, visiting Independence Square and searching for the elusive Slowjamastan raccoon, the national animal.
His next grand plan is to raise enough funds to build “a lazy river, an armadillo farm, an all-you-can-eat Mongolian BBQ establishment and, of course, a giant statue/monument of The Great Leader (me).”
“We also host a handful of activities throughout the year,” Williams adds,”including opportunities to have your Slowjamastani passport stamped, join in on the commemoration of new states, and even meet the sultan.”
In search of diplomatic recognition
Williams says he is working on creating diplomatic ties with other countries, and he’s had his Slowjamastan passport stamped by 16 different countries on his recent travels, including South Africa, New Zealand, Vanuatu, and the United States.
He makes it clear that Slowjamastan technically meets the criteria for a sovereign nation-state as defined by the 1933 Montevideo Convention, which is typically cited as the best definition of a country.
The Montevideo Convention requires a country to have a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and the capacity to enter into diplomatic relations with other states, all prerequisites which Williams claims the Republic of Slowjamastan has met.
The next stage is for the sultan to gain recognition of his micronation’s secession from the United States, although that might be a little far-fetched even for Williams.
“I’m a little frustrated to admit that, despite emails and DMs to President Biden on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and MySpace, our messages have all been left unread,” explains Williams. “Perhaps they are stuck in his spam folder. We’re going with that.”