Jokonya, the man who faked a country

Jokonya, the man who faked a country

In December 2023, a local Zimbabwean weekend newspaper broke an unusual story with an enthralling headline; ‘’Zimbabwean Academic Registers His Own Country’’. The story was subsequently picked up by a dozen other publications to be reproduced under different headlines, all as catchy as the original article. The story went ablaze on the internet and became the subject of discussions on many social media pages and handles for a while.

In the wake of that sensational story and the excitement it brought, My Afrika Magazine did a follow-up feature that incorporated facts from the findings of our research and the exclusive account of the man in the center of the sensation; the ‘’academic’’ who had ‘’formed’’ a whole new country thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean and successfully ‘’registered’’ it as a sovereign Republic; Webiston Jokonya.

For those that might have missed the news, the ‘’newly formed republic’’ in question is a very tiny Island in the Pacific Ocean, known as Howland Island. Jokonya claims to have re-christened the Island to United Republic of Delvin after claiming it as an uninhabited territory and registering it as a sovereign in accordance with international laws. This piece of information appeared juice and quite noble at first glance, but a simple fact checking on the internet rendered the whole thing a farce.

Our follow-up article attracted a mixed bag of interests from our readers. From excited inquiries on how one can be a citizen of this ‘’dream country’’ to suspicions of fraudulent intentions on the part of the man behind the project. One reader, based in the U.S, had to verify Jokonya’s claims with the Federal department managing Howland Island after he attempted to coerce them into ‘’sponsoring’’ an ambassadorship under his fake country.

The response they got from the U.S authorities confirmed what they already suspected: the claims were false and the whole thing was a scam.
They even got a word of advice from the Deputy Superintendent in charge of Howland Island among other Pacific remote Islands under U.S ownership; Stefan Kropidlowski.

These pieces of evidence buttressed the conclusion we had sought to draw to the public’s attention in our follow-up story: THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF DELVIN WAS FAKE!
And the fakeness also extended to the man behind the crooked scheme; Webiston Jokonya.

In the interest of informing our readers with factual information, and also to conscientize an unassuming section of the general public, My Afrika Magazine did another follow-up of the story. What we unearthed was an intricately packed layer of lies upon lies, deception upon deception, all elaborately patched together for one intention; scam or swindle people of their hard-earned money.


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As is the general case with all scam schemes, making a quick and easy buck was the primary motive of this alluringly “Utopic” project. Through catchy messaging and colorful pamphlets that are posted on social media especially on WhatsApp groups by Jokonya and his ‘’aides’’, gullible and desperate people around the world are lured into buying ‘’citizenship’’ certificates and other ‘’important documents’’ to make it into a ‘’prestigious’’ list titled ‘’The First 5000 Citizens Program’.’ The program claims to be on a drive to recruit 5000 citizens of different nationalities to be part of the country’s pioneer population. Now here is where the fix is; after paying for citizenship papers, one is put on an indefinite wait which can stretch from a year to an entire lifetime, as long as the population target of 5000 citizens hasn’t been reached- at least that’s the excuse the owner of the scheme will tell you when you inquire about the progress of things.

The money for the documents is paid directly to Webiston Jokonya’s number using money remitting platforms and the ‘’papers’’ are send over the phone as PDFs or images. Amateurishly done and sometimes riddled with glaring typographical errors, the documents bear the ‘’citizen’s’’ self-supplied photo, the fake country’s coat of arms, random “serial numbers” and the signature of the ‘’Prime Minister’’, in this case Jokonya himself, who prefixes his name with the grand titles ‘’HRM’’ for ‘’His Royal Majesty’’.

A citizenship certificate costs USD 40, and with his ambitious target of recruiting 5000 people into his scam, Jokonya is eyeing to make $200 000 just from selling these inexistant citizenships . There are other ancillary papers which one is required to acquire for them to officialize their recruitment. There is a ‘‘national identity card’’ going for USD 15, ‘’birth record certificate’’ going for USD 10 , ‘’ certificate of incorporation’’ for those looking forward to ‘’exploring business opportunities in the Republic of Delvin’’, pegged at USD 100. There are other different papers with vague descriptions which are up for grabs, including a ‘’diplomatic appointment donation’’ set at USD 200.

In addition, there is also a list of real estate on offer to those dreaming of owning a home on the Island, categorized from residential, industrial to commercial.
So, deducing from the above, it is clear this is a scheme engineered with only one intention, to make money from the unsuspecting, by the loads.

While it wouldn’t be easy to sustain a scam of that nature beyond 24 hours in this digital age where fact checking is just a matter of clicking away keys on a keyboard, there’s always the gullible handful amongst us, who, for different reasons, easily get sold by ‘’colorful talk’’ and gaudy optics.

My Afrika Magazine can confirm that there are people who have actually invested their money into the scheme under the pretext of acquiring ‘’important documents’’ or ‘’ambassadorship’’ roles under the fake republic. We have evidence of payment, some supplied by the victims, others supplied unwittingly by Jokonya himself. Those scammed so far are from different parts of the world; from Africa, Middle East to Europe.

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Allegedly holding about 15 degrees, including 7 doctorates, Webiston Jokonya can easily walk away with the title of ‘’most educated person’’ in Zimbabwe. Some of those PhDs are said to be in such prestigious disciplines like Information Technology, International Law and Business Administration. With such an illuminated academic decoration around his neck, Jokonya identifies himself with the unusual title of ‘’ Doctor Professor’’.

It is these seemingly impressive academic credentials that might have aided him in selling his fake agenda to the public and exciting the local media for a while.
However, a simple fact checking from our end rendered all his qualifications disputable. We discovered that all the universities mentioned in his resume are online ‘’distance learning platforms’’ , most of them having a not so fragrant digital footprint. There is high possibility that these degrees were an easy product of the infamous ‘’degree mill’’. According to online sources, a degree mill is a dodgy Organisation pretending to be a university, which sell fake degrees to anyone who wants them.

My Afrika Magazine has had a direct interaction with the man who calls himself ‘’Doctor Professor’’ via telephone and text, we also have in our possession pieces of literature and write-ups produced by his own hand, and without malice, we can conclude that the quality of his communication is miles afar from the academic he claims to be.

Our investigation can reveal that this scheme of scamming people under the guise of newly founded micro-nation or kingdoms is not unique to Webiston Jokonya and his United Republic of Delvin. The internet is quite awash with a number of these ‘’micro-nation’’ schemes, often fronted by audacious characters flaunting fancy academic and royal titles to their names. Part of the scam’s modus operandi, it seems, is to use education to dignify their sordid schemes since society is generally known to respect academics. So, to achieve this, the scammers work in cahoots with online degree mills where they acquire all kinds of ‘’high’’ degrees and accolades. They also get ‘’certificates of affiliation’’ from very dubious, and often non-existent universities.

Interestingly, our investigation discovered that Webiston Jokonya is actually a part of another micro-nation scam which has been going around the internet for a few years. In his resume which he publicly shared, Jokonya proudly states that, among several other appointments, holds the prestigious post of Permanent Secretary to the ‘’United Kingdom of Atlantis’’/Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To the unsuspecting, United Kingdom of Atlantis can be a real country somewhere on the vast globe. A quick internet search can even land you on sites displaying tantalizing images and information about a newly found Utopian Island city located near Dubai. You will stumble upon images of colorful bank notes bearing the faces of ‘’Atlantis” royalty’’, alongside gold coins with the heads of the ‘’queen’’ and ‘’princesses’’ engraved into the metal. You will also discover certificates of affiliation from ‘’academic’’ bodies and universities from across the world.

But none of this is real; it’s all just optics to bamboozle the gullible. The country is not only inexistant, but is based on age-old mythical fiction popularized through comics and film.
The story of Atlantis is derived from the literature of Plato, a famous ancient Greek Philosopher .The city never existed in the real world. And for someone calling themselves ‘’Doctor Professor’’, citing an appointment to a mythological city on their resume is not only outrageous on their part but an insult to society’s intelligence.

And of course, as anyone who cares to spend a moment on the internet analyzing information will deduce, Webiston Jokonya borrowed notes for his own scheme from the Atlantis project, which is fronted by mainly West Africans. The modus operandi of making people invest money into the fake countries are exactly the same.

We reached out to Jokonya with our findings including the scamming claims, but he wasn’t budging to the truth.

‘’I know you are a journalist and am aware of the way you’re doing and I also know that you’re not interested to be a citizen also(sic). But you are doing all this in behalf of other media to gather information from me about this Delvin(sic)’’, he texted his response on WhatsApp before dropping yet another outrageous, self-cooked piece of historical theory in a desperate bid to support his shady mission;

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‘’Who are you who want to know about our ancestral land history, and who gave you that authority?’’
Queried about his association with similar dodgy schemes on the internet, Jokonya denied having any links with the projects.
‘’This is Kingdom of Atlantis (you are referring to) am not part of is sorry you failed to investigate this (sic)’’, he responded.

This writer also spoke to a handful of people who claimed to know Webiston Jokonya. They all described him as a reclusive personality who doesn’t like talking to people. Some claimed to know him as a cellphone and computer repair, running his trade at Tsotsi Complex in the small town of Karoi, west of Zimbabwe. Others described him as a scholastic person who self-studied to acquire several degrees for himself from his paltry income as a barber, his other known vocation at the town mall.

While there can be varied accounts on the person of Webiston Jokonya versus his alleged academic accomplishments, there is one thing that cannot be debated any further: The United Republic of Delvin. Its fake, and don’t put your money or time into that undertaking!

Elias Muonde

Elias M Muonde is a writer, poet, scriptwriter, and journalist based in Harare. His writing has been published in a handful of anthologies as well as in The Standard Newspaper, The NewsHawks, various international journals, blogs, and online platforms. A film enthusiast, Muonde has worked on several film projects in different capacities: from production management to assistant directing. He also wrote over a hundred episodes of radio drama aired on Radio Zimbabwe.

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