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Tithes and offerings or fights and sufferings!


Many Christians struggle with the issue of tithing. It is perhaps one of the most divisive issues in the modern Church world, and perhaps unnecessarily so. But then again, money is always a touchy subject. It might be a fair conclusion to say that the issue of tithing is so divisive that the Church world is split in half over it; half for it and half against it.


And, a sizeable number in both camps have no settled stand. Both sides have potent scriptural basis for their doctrinal position. If circumcision was a hot potato in the early Church, tithing is our modern day equivalent.


Money will always be an emotional subject. It is inherently so. This powder keg is not helped by the fact that in some churches giving is over-emphasized. I've been born again for twenty years. And I can confidently say that I have heard more sermons on tithing than on any other subject. Yes, sir!


The sermons came and still come in different flavors; from impassioned, borderline begging pleas, to threats of curses, to manipulation, and whatever else could possibly tug at one's heartstrings. All too often it's been thinly veiled emotional and spiritual blackmail! I wouldn't be entirely too surprised if I got to hear one day that a man of the cloth preached on the tithe gun cocked and pointed at the congregation! It's that serious.


 Much has been made of tithing and offering, and rightfully so. But at times the overemphasis has not helped matters, especially if not clearly presented and taught without emotion and an attempt to place the hearer under duress.


At the same time, many Christians refuse to submit to the biblical exhortations about making offerings to the Lord. Tithing/giving is intended to be a joy and a blessing. Sadly, that is all too often not the case in the Church today. But why is the subject of the tithe so divisive? Why does it elicit such passionate emotions, whether for or against it? What is the tithe?


The first biblical mention of tithing is found in Genesis 14. After four Mesopotamian kings had taken Lot captive, Abraham attacked them and recovered all the booty. After his victory, the king of Sodom came out to meet him, and so did Melchizedek, an enigmatic priest of God mentioned once here in Genesis and in only two other places in the Bible.


 Melchizedek blessed Abraham, and then Abraham “gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:20). This Melchizedek is mentioned as a priest long before priesthood was introduced or even understood. Who instituted his priesthood? Through what means? What liturgical order did he follow? Encoded in what?


These questions are not easy to answer. The text does not tell us whether Abraham had ever tithed before, or ever tithed afterwards. Perhaps it was a custom of his culture. Perhaps not. Nothing can be conclusively inferred from the text.

Abraham was generous, and gave the rest of his booty to the king of Sodom (verses 23-24). Abraham kept all of God’s laws that were relevant in his day (Genesis 26:5), but Genesis does not tell us whether tithing was a law in Abraham’s day.


And unsurprisingly so. In Abraham's day there was no written legal code. It was the dispensation of conscience following a patriarchal tradition of handing over revealed divine instructions from one generation to another. Many of God’s decrees and requirements were built around the nation of Israel and the Levitical priesthood and tabernacle.

Abraham could not have kept such decrees and laws. He may have tithed regularly, but we cannot prove it. Abraham lived near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite (Genesis 14:13) at Hebron (Genesis 13:18). Hebron is about 15 miles south of Jerusalem.


The Genesis account says Abraham pursued Kedorlaomer north “as far as Dan” (Genesis 14:14), which is about 100 miles north of Jerusalem. When Abraham and his men caught up with Kedorlaomer at Dan, Abraham divided his men and attacked during the night, giving chase as far north as Hobah (north of Damascus) which is 30 miles north of Dan (Genesis 14:15-16). Abraham’s pursuit took him about 145 miles north of his home in Hebron.


Following his victory over Kedorlaomer, Melchizedek came out to meet Abraham in King’s Valley (to the east of Jerusalem) as he returned from Hobah (Genesis 14:17-18, Hebrews 7:1). Abraham’s home in Hebron was still another 15 miles to the south of King’s Valley.

Unless Abraham carried his household possessions with him to Dan and back (about 290 miles round trip), Abraham gave to Melchizedek only out of the spoils – plunder he carried back from his victory over Kedorlaomer (Hebrews 7:2,4). In that sense, it was Kedorlaomer, the enemy, who paid the tithe! I'll give you a minute to pick your jaw off the floor. There are important elements to consider in the story of Abraham's victory over Kedorlaomer.


A map in my Bible suggests the location for Sodom and Gomorrah near Zoar (Genesis 13:10), south east of the Dead Sea, which is about 50 miles from Hebron where Abraham lived. News was spread by word of mouth. It took time for word of Kedorlaomer's conquest of Sodom and Gomorrah to reach Abraham in Hebron. It took time for Abraham to assemble an army of 318 trained men from his household (Genesis 14:14).


All the while, Kedorlaomer was making his way north with Lot, his family, and the plunder of Sodom and Gomorrah, presumably making his way northward in the plains area east of the Jordan River, Dead Sea and Mt. Seir.


The mileage figures I used in the paragraph above, assume Abraham and his men headed due north from Hebron, on the west side of the Jordan River and Dead sea, converging on Kedorlaomer at Dan. If Abraham turned south from Hebron and went around the south end of the Dead Sea, through Zoar and Sodom and Gomorrah, it would be necessary to add at least 80 miles to the round trip figure above.


My point with all the discussion of mileage and geography, is that a small army of 318 men, in pursuit of a powerful army with a substantial 'head start', must travel light. I assume Abraham and his men pursued Kedorlaomer on foot, and carried only swords and shields, minimal food and water. A 'light infantry' going off to war, does NOT carry their household possessions with them, their silver and gold, nor did they drive their flocks and heards before them when in pursuit of Kedorlaomer.


Undoubtedly Abraham and his men ran in marathon-like fashion to catch up with Kedorlaomer. Their northward pursuit was over 115 miles of hilly terrain west of the Jordan and Dead Sea. If they turned south and followed Kedorlaomer's tracks from Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham and his men would have run nearly 200 miles before catching up with Kedorlaomer.

That Abraham's home was still 15-20 miles south of when he met up with Melchizedek in the King's Valley, shows a clear distinction between giving a tenth out of the plunder of war that Abraham brought back with him from Dan, and Abraham's personal wealth and income which remained at Abraham's household in Hebron. Interestingly, Genesis 13 says Abraham was already wealthy with silver, gold, and livestock, before he even moved to Hebron.


It's important to highlight that Abraham did NOT tithe out of his income. That's an incontestable fact. There is a distinct difference between Abraham's one time voluntary thanksgiving offering out of the plunders of war, and what was later instituted by the Law of Moses as the ongoing tithe for the Levitical priesthood.


Yes, later, when the tithe was incorporated into the Law, one was to tithe from their increase. But, in Abraham's case, what he gave the tithe from was NOT his income or his increase. It was from the plunders of war. To say that Abraham gave the tithe from his wealth would be a gross violation of clearly stated scriptural fact.


I believe that difference is the reason the NIV Bible translates the word "ma'aser" (Strong's Reference #4643) in Genesis 14:20 as "tenth" and not "tithe". The next mention of tithing is in Genesis 28:20-22. Jacob had a supernatural dream at Luz, which he later renamed Bethel. In the morning, Jacob vowed to give a tithe if God helped him during his journey.

He was trying to make a bargain with God. He wanted special help, and in return for that help, he was willing to worship God, and to tithe as a part of that worship. It is not clearly stated WHEN and HOW Jacob did finally honor his vow. What we have in the text is only a promise, and a conditional one at that.


The Genesis account goes on to show that Jacob did in fact go on to prosper in his journey and during his sojourn with Laban. So we can safely conclude that he did honor his promise and redeemed his tithe. Tithing may have been part of the common worship practices of that time and culture, or it may have been an extra-special vow for those who desperately desired divine help. This has to be the case because tithing was not coded into any written law.


Jacob had to have learned it from his grandfather, Abraham, or his father, Isaac. If that be the case, then perhaps we won't be too far off to truth to assume that tithing was a known practice in Jacob's day. It goes without saying that tithing is an Old Testament concept. But I want to go a bit further and say that tithing was, and is, a spiritual or revelational concept.


The tithe was a requirement of the Law in which the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes—one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land—which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent! Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system. That makes perfect sense.


The New Testament nowhere explicitly commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says gifts should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving. However, silence on a matter is never to be interpreted to mean license on a matter.


Silence is not license. Some objections to the tithe is that it cannot possibly be applicable to us since there is no temple to which the tithe is to be taken, nor is the Levitical priesthood in existence since we, the Church, are now ALL become the priesthood. In other words, since there are no full time priests in our day and every believer is a priest, of necessity, the requirement to support priests is null and void.


This argument sounds potent on face value. But it conveniently omits the fact that even though every believer is a priest, there are still those God has set aside from amongst the rest to serve the rest. Ephesians 4:11-12 KJV [11] And he gave SOME, apostles; and SOME, prophets; and SOME, evangelists; and SOME, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ… It is my humble submission that it is these SOME who presently stand as "priests among priests."


Just as Israel was required to take care of the Levites, so is the modern Church required to take care of these "some" whose entire lives may be dedicated to ministering to the saints. I find the argument that we shouldn't tithe to support Churches and Pastors as decidedly unconvincing since a greater part of its premise is that, as we are now all priests, there are no "special" priests to receive our tithes.


 A thorough examination of the totality of the New Testament punches holes in this argument. Paul's writings clearly show that there is still need to take care of those set apart for ministry, just as the Old Testament Levites were being taken care of.


The argument that we are all the same also doesn't hold in the evidence of New Testament hermeneutics or exegesis. While we must desist from categorizing believers into classes or even perhaps shy away from severing the Body of Christ into clergy and laity, it still is vividly clear that there are those set apart, distinctly so, from the rest of the Church. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 KJV [12] And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; [13]

And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Could it be any clearer than this? If we are all the same, then who are these who are to be "known?" Who are these who "labor" if we are all laborers? Who are these who are "over you" in the Lord if we are all on the same footing? Who are these who are to be "esteemed very highly in love for their works' sake?"


Clearly, in my opinion, these are the modern day Levites! These are the ones who in our times are to receive the tithes. These are the full time Pastors/Bishops whose entire lives, like those of the Levites, are dedicated to the service of the Lord. Someone might say, "I hear you on that point, but what about the storehouse that Malachi spoke of? The temple system has been abolished, so there is no temple to take them to. Moreover, we, the Church, are now the temple!" This sounds like a fair question. However, we cannot separate the Levites from the temple.


Tithes were taken to the temple, yes; but they were received by the Levites. So, following from my earlier argument, where are the modern day Levites to be found? Why, at Church of course! But, you say, we are the Church! The temple is no longer a building! Correct. It is not. But there are still physical buildings we gather at where the Pastors minister to us as the Old Testament Levites ministered to Israel.


 Although people are THE Church, we call the buildings where we worship "churches." Another objection from some is that the early Church actually met in homes and there were no recognized and institutionalized buildings serving as churches. Given that, we should not tithe because there are no temples. Again, while there is truth to this argument, it's not the whole truth.


The Book of Acts tells us that the believers habitually gathered at Solomon's Porch at Herod's Temple. This was their meeting place for corporate worship and to receive teaching. They were not at anybody's house! Moreover, take the in-gathering of 3,000 souls after Peter's sermon in Acts 2. Whose house would accommodate such a number?


Later on, 5,000 more men were added to the Church! Yes, there perhaps were multiple "cell" groups in Jerusalem, but there clearly was a massive Jerusalem Church led by the apostles. Again, I cannot be convinced that Paul's letters to Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, etc, were written to circulated around homes! Can you imagine Paul's letter "To The Church In Gaborone," and it's actually written to be read around multiple homes? I receive it and read it to my cell group in Broadhurst, then I pass it on to be read to another cell group in Maru a Pula and I tell them that after reading it, they must ensure that they pass it on to the cell group leader in Extension 9! I'm tempted to write "LOL!"


These were not chain letters! They were addressed to local assemblies that gathered in specific locations for corporate worship under pastoral leadership. There might have been "cell" groups meeting in various homes in those cities, but it cannot possibly be plausible to imagine that Paul's epistles were written to any other addressee except major, central assemblies in those places. It cannot be otherwise. So then, these would be the "temples" or "storehouses" of those cities and the Pastors therein would be the "Levites" who received tithes.

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The Corona Coronation (Part 10)

9th July 2020

Ever heard of a 666-type beast known as Fort Detrick?

Located in the US state of Maryland, about 80 km removed from Washington DC, Fort Detrick houses the US army’s top virus research laboratory. It has been identified as “home to the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, with its bio-defense agency, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and  also hosts the National Cancer Institute-Frederick and the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research and National Interagency Biodefense Campus”.

The 490-hectare campus researches the world’s deadliest pathogens, including Anthrax (in 1944, the Roosevelt administration ordered 1 million anthrax bombs from Fort Detrick), Ebola, smallpox, and … you guessed right: coronaviruses.  The facility, which carries out paid research projects for government agencies (including the CIA), universities and drug companies most of whom owned by the highly sinister military-industrial complex, employs 900 people.

Between 1945 and 1969, the sprawling complex (which has since become the US’s ”bio-defence centre” to put it mildly) was the hub of the US biological weapons programme. It was at Fort Detrick that Project MK Ultra, a top-secret CIA quest to subject   the human mind to routine robotic manipulation, a monstrosity the CIA openly owned up to in a congressional inquisition in 1975, was carried out.  In the consequent experiments, the guinea pigs comprised not only of people of the forgotten corner of America – inmates, prostitutes and the homeless but also prisoners of war and even regular US servicemen.

These unwitting participants underwent up to a 20-year-long ordeal of barbarous experiments involving psychoactive drugs (such as LSD), forced electroshocks, physical and sexual abuses, as well as a myriad of other torments. The experiments not only violated international law, but also the CIA’s own charter which forbids domestic activities. Over 180 doctors and researchers took part in these horrendous experiments and this in a country which touts itself as the most civilised on the globe!

Was the coronavirus actually manufactured at Fort Detrick (like HIV as I shall demonstrate at the appropriate time) and simply tactfully patented to other equally cacodemonic places such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China?

THE FORT DETRICK SCIENTISTS’ PROPHECY WAS WELL-INFORMED

 

About two years before the term novel coronavirus became a familiar feature in day-to-day banter, two scientist cryptically served advance warning of its imminence. They were Allison Totura and Sina Bavari, both researchers at Fort Detrick.

The two scientists talked of “novel highly pathogenic coronaviruses that may emerge from animal reservoir hosts”, adding, “These coronaviruses may have the potential to cause devastating pandemics due to unique features in virus biology including rapid viral replication, broad host range, cross-species transmission, person-to-person transmission, and lack of herd immunity in human populations  Associated with novel respiratory syndromes, they move from person-to-person via close contact and can result in high morbidity and mortality caused by the progression to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).”

All the above constitute some of the documented attributes and characteristics of the virus presently on the loose – the propagator of Covid-19. A recent clinical review of Covid-19 in The Economist seemed to bear out this prognostication when it said, “It is ARDS that sees people rushed to intensive-care units and put on ventilators”. As if sounding forth a veritable prophecy, the two scientists besought governments to start working on counter-measures there and then that could be “effective against such a virus”.

Well, it was not by sheer happenstance that Tortura and Bavari turned out to have been so incredibly and ominously prescient. They had it on good authority, having witnessed at ringside what the virus was capable of in the context of their own laboratory.  The gory scenario they painted for us came not from secondary sources but from the proverbial horse’s mouth folks.

CDC’S RECKLESS ADMISSION

In March this year, Robert Redfield, the US  Director for the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  told the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee that it had transpired that some members of the American populace  who were certified as having died of influenza  turned out to have harboured the novel coronavirus per posthumous analysis of their tissue.

Redfield was not pressed to elaborate but the message was loud and clear – Covid-19 had been doing the rounds in the US much earlier than it was generally supposed and that the extent to which it was mistaken for flu was by far much more commonplace than was openly admitted. An outspoken Chinese diplomat, Zhao Lijian, seized on this rather casual revelation and insisted that the US disclose further information, exercise transparency on coronavirus cases and provide an explanation to the public.

But that was not all the beef Zhao had with the US. He further charged that the coronavirus was possibly transplanted to China by the US: whether inadvertently or by deliberate design he did not say.  Zhao pointed to the Military World Games of October 2019, in which US army representatives took part, as the context in which the coronavirus irrupted into China. Did the allegation ring hollow or there was a ring of truth to it?

THE BENASSIE FACTOR

The Military World Games, an Olympic-style spectrum of competitive action, are held every four years. The 2019 episode took place in Wuhan, China. The 7th such, the games ran from October 18 to October 27.  The US contingent comprised of 17 teams of over 280 athletes, plus an innumerable other staff members. Altogether, over 9000 athletes from 110 countries were on hand to showcase their athletic mettle in more than 27 sports. All NATO countries were present, with Africa on its part represented by 30 countries who included Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Besides the singular number of participants, the event notched up a whole array of firsts. One report spelt them out thus: “The first time the games were staged outside of military bases, the first time the games were all held in the same city, the first time an Athletes’ Village was constructed, the first time TV and VR systems were powered by 5G telecom technology, and the first use of all-round volunteer services for each delegation.”

Now, here is the clincher: the location of the guest house for the US team was located in the immediate neighbourhood of the Wuhan Seafood Market, the place the Chinese authorities to this day contend was the diffusion point of the coronavirus. But there is more: according to some reports, the person who allegedly but unwittingly transmitted the virus to the people milling about the market – Patient Zero of Covid-19 – was one Maatie Benassie.

Benassie, 52, is a security officer of Sergeant First Class rank at the Fort Belvoir military base in Virginia and took part in the 50-mile cycling road race in the same competitions. In the final lap, she was accidentally knocked down by a fellow contestant and sustained a fractured rib and a concussion though she soldiered on and completed the race with the agonising adversity.  Inevitably, she saw a bit of time in a local health facility.   According to information dug up by George Webb, an investigative journalist based in Washington DC,     Benassie would later test positive for Covid-19 at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.

Incidentally, Benassie apparently passed on the virus to other US soldiers at the games, who were hospitalised right there in China before they were airlifted back to the US. The US government straightaway prohibited the publicising of details on the matter under the time-honoured excuse of “national security interests”, which raised eyebrows as a matter-of-course. As if that was not fishy enough, the US out of the blue tightened Chinese visas to the US at the conclusion of the games.

The rest, as they say, is history: two months later, Covid-19 had taken hold on China territory.  “From that date onwards,” said one report, “one to five new cases were reported each day. By December 15, the total number of infections stood at 27 — the first double-digit daily rise was reported on December 17 — and by December 20, the total number of confirmed cases had reached 60.”

TWO CURIOUS RESEARCH HALTINGS

Is it a coincidence that all the US soldiers who fell ill at the Wuhan games did their preparatory training at the Fort Belvoir military base, only a 15-minutes’  drive from Fort Detrick?

That Fort Detrick is a plain-sight perpetrator of pathogenic evils is evidenced by a number of highly suspicious happenings concerning it. Remember the 2001 anthrax mailing attacks on government and media houses which killed five people right on US territory? The two principal suspects who puzzlingly were never charged, worked as microbiologists at Fort Detrick. Of the two, Bruce Ivins, who was the more culpable, died in 2008 of “suicide”. For “suicide”, read “elimination”, probably because he was in the process of spilling the beans and therefore cast the US government in a stigmatically diabolical light. Indeed, the following year, all research projects at Fort Detrick were suspended on grounds that the institute was “storing pathogens not listed   in its database”. The real truth was likely much more reprehensible.

In 2014, there was a mini local pandemic in the US which killed thousands of people and which the mainstream media were not gutsy enough to report. It arose following the weaponisation at Fort Detrick of the H7N9 virus, prompting the Obama administration to at once declare a moratorium on the research and withdraw funding.

The Trump administration, however, which has a pathological fixation on undoing practically all the good Obama did, reinstated the research under new rigorous guidelines in 2017. But since old habits die hard, the new guidelines were flouted at will, leading to another shutdown of the whole research gamut at the institute in August 2019.  This, nonetheless, was not wholesale as other areas of research, such as experiments to make bird flu more transmissible and which had begun in 2012, proceeded apace. As one commentator pointedly wondered aloud, was it really necessary to study how to make H5N1, which causes a type of bird flu with an eye-popping mortality rate, more transmissible?

Consistent with its character, the CDC was not prepared to furnish particulars upon issuing the cease and desist order, citing “national security reasons”. Could the real reason have been the manufacture of the novel coronavirus courtesy of a tip-off by the more scrupulous scientists?

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Masisi faces ultimate test of his presidency

9th July 2020

President Mokgweetsi Masisi may have breathed a huge sigh of relief when he emerged victorious in last year’s 2019 general elections, but the ultimate test of his presidency has only just begun.

From COVID-19 pandemic effects; disenchanted unemployed youth, deteriorating diplomatic relations with neighbouring South Africa as well as emerging instability within the ruling party — Masisi has a lot to resolve in the next few years.

Last week we started an unwanted cold war with Botswana’s main trade partner, South Africa, in what we consider an ill-conceived move. Never, in the history of this country has Botswana shown South Africa a cold shoulder – particularly since the fall of the apartheid regime.

It is without a doubt that our country’s survival depends on having good relations with South Africa. As the Chairperson of African National Congress (ANC), Gwede Mantashe once said, a good relationship between Botswana and South Africa is not optional but necessary.

No matter how aggrieved we feel, we should never engage in a diplomatic war — with due respect to other neighbours— with South Africa. We will never gain anything from starting a diplomatic war with South Africa.

In fact, doing so will imperil our economy, given that majority of businesses in the retail sector and services sector are South African companies.

Former cabinet minister and Phakalane Estates proprietor, David Magang once opined that Botswana’s poor manufacturing sector and importation of more than 80 percent of the foodstuffs from South Africa, effectively renders Botswana a neo-colony of the former.

Magang’s statement may look demeaning, but that is the truth, and all sorts of examples can be produced to support that. Perhaps it is time to realise that as a nation, we are not independent enough to behave the way we do. And for God’s sake, we are a landlocked country!

Recently, the effects of COVID-19 have exposed the fragility of our economy; the devastating pleas of the unemployed and the uncertainty of the future. Botswana’s two mainstay source of income; diamonds and tourism have been hit hard. Going forward, there is a need to chart a new pathway, and surely it is not an easy task.

The ground is becoming fertile for uprisings that are not desirable in any country. That the government has not responded positively to the rising unemployment challenge is the truth, and very soon as a nation we will wake up to this reality.

The magnitude of the problem is so serious that citizens are running out of patience. The government on the other hand has not done much to instil confidence by assuring the populace that there is a plan.

The general feeling is that, not much will change, hence some sections of the society, will try to use other means to ensure that their demands are taken into consideration. Botswana might have enjoyed peace and stability in the past, but there is guarantee that, under the current circumstances, the status quo will be maintained.

It is evident that, increasingly, indigenous citizens are becoming resentful of naturalised and other foreign nationals. Many believe naturalised citizens, especially those of Indian origin, are the major beneficiaries in the economy, while the rest of the society is side-lined.

The resentfulness is likely to intensify going forward. We needed not to be heading in this direction. We needed not to be racist in our approach but when the pleas of the large section of the society are ignored, this is bound to happen.

It is should be the intention of every government that seeks to strive on non-racialism to ensure that there is shared prosperity. Share prosperity is the only way to make people of different races in one society to embrace each other, however, we have failed in this respect.

Masisi’s task goes beyond just delivering jobs and building a nation that we all desire, but he also has an immediate task of achieving stability within his own party. The matter is so serious that, there are threats of defection by a number of MPs, and if he does not arrest this, his government may collapse before completing the five year mandate.

The problems extend to the party itself, where Masisi found himself at war with his Secretary General, Mpho Balopi. The war is not just the fight for Central Committee position, but forms part of the succession plan.

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The Corona Coronation (Part 9)

29th June 2020
Michael Mellaham

If we are to go by what I can term as conventional wisdom, the coronavirus arose in China’s Hubei province in the city of Wuhan. According to the WHO, the Chinese government filed the country’s first confirmed Covid-19 case with the international health regulator on December 8, 2019, with the first case outside of China’s boarders reported in Thailand on January 13, 2020.

We now know, however, courtesy of a paper in The Lancet that was authored by doctors from Wuhan’s Jinhintan Hospital, that the first such case was logged on December 1. We have also come to learn that in point of fact, the first patient, the so-called Patient Zero, may have presented with the as yet unfathomed Covid-9 symptoms in a public health facility on November 17. This is according to a report in the South China Morning Post, which claims to have seen classified medical government reports.

The Post report says nine cases of Covid-19 sufferers, aged between 39 and 79, were attended to during the month of November alone and that a total of 266 people officially had the disease by December 31st. Clearly, the disease had been sedately circulating for some time before it exploded towards the end of the year considering that a great number of people do not present symptoms at all.

Yet the fact the disease was first announced in China and even laboratory-spawned in that country does not necessarily mean China was its veritable place of origin. It almost certainly had multiple origins and may have occurred much earlier in other places on the globe.

AMERICA’S FLU ILLNESS TSUNAMI

Unbeknownst to much of the world, Covid-19 struck in Europe and the USA about the same time it did so in China, if not much earlier, it has now emerged. This is not tabloid hogwash or simply idle gossip folks: it was reported by the highly estimable news outlets such as NBC News and The New York Times. Even Newsweek, which along with Time magazine constitute America’s leading two weekly political magazines, was adamant that the coronavirus outbreak must have occurred as early as September 2019 and that Wuhan was possibly not its birthplace as such. For some reason (or is it for partisan reasons?), the globally renowned broadcast media networks like CNN, BBC, and Sky News have chosen to self-gag on the matter.

If there’s one disease which is so notoriously recurrent and even death-dealing in the US, it is influenza – commonly referred to as the flu or common cold. Here in Africa, flu is no much of a big deal: it is so mild I personally do not know – nor have ever heard of – a single one person who died of flu. In the US, flu is some menace. For instance, in the 2017-18 season, over 61,000 deaths were linked to flu, and in the 2018-19 season, 34,200 succumbed to the disease. Every year, 10 percent of the US population, or 32 million people, contract flu, though only about 100,000 end up being hospitalised anyway.

In the US, the flu season ordinarily runs from October to May, straddling three of the country’s four-season set, namely fall (September to November), winter (December to February), and spring (March to May). The disease is particularly widespread in 16 states. Last year, the winter flu season began atypically early and with a big bang that had never been seen in 15 years according to a December 6, 2019 report by Associated Press (AP), a wire news agency. By the beginning of December or thereabouts, 1.7 million flu illnesses, 16,000 hospitalisations, and 900 flu-related deaths had taken place.

The Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) put the number of people already dead from flu-related illnesses as of mid-March 2019 at between 29,000 and 59,000. This was in addition to the misery of hundreds of thousands of flu-related hospitalisations and millions of medical visits for flu symptoms that have raged in the course of the season. Some hospitals in New Orleans have reported the busiest patient traffic ever at their emergency departments.

Health authorities in Louisiana, which was the first to be impinged, said flu-like illnesses began to rocket in the month of October. Said the AP report: “There are different types of flu viruses, and the one causing illnesses in most parts of the country is a surprise.” Dave Osthus, a flu statistician at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was quoted as saying, “This could be a precursor to something pretty bad. But we don’t know what that is.”
Well, maybe we can venture an answer to the conundrum: the flu situation was exacerbated by the coronavirus.

THE CASE OF A NEW JERSEY MAYOR

The story of Michael Mellaham, the mayor of the New Jersey city of Belleville, has been widely reported in the Western world, albeit in the comparatively fringe media houses primarily lest the finger of indictment shift from China to the US. Sometime in November last year, Mellaham came down with an ailment that presented with Covid-19-like symptoms such as aches, high fevers, chills, and a sore throat, the latter of which went on for a full month.
Right at the onset of his diseased condition, Mellaham went to see his doctor, who told him not to worry as it was little more than flu and would peter out in a matter of days. The illness lingered for much longer though he at long last fought it off. It was the sickest he had ever been in his adult life.

In April this year, Mellaham took a Covid-19 test and he was found not with Covid-19 per se but its antibodies, which crystal-clearly evinced he had the disease at some stage in the recent past. This is what he told China Global Television Network (CGTN) in May: “We’re told that they (people with Covid-19-like symptoms) don’t have the flu. They just have bronchitis. They just have a bad cough or it’s a bad cold. I think that we just weren’t expecting Covid-19 then, so therefore the doctors didn’t know what to call it or what to expect.”

Of the credibility of the test he took, known as IgM (Immunoglobulin M Test), the first antibody a body makes when it fights a new infection, Mellaham said, “The IgM is the more recent antibody, which would have shown that that antibody is more recent in my system, that my body more recently fought the coronavirus.”

The first publicly admitted case of coronavirus-triggered morbidity in the US was announced in January this year and involved a Californian who had recently returned from Wuhan, but as Mellaham pointedly put it, “that doesn’t mean it wasn’t here (on US soil) before that”.

SUDDENLY “MANY PIXELS”

On May 7, 2020, The New York Times reported of two men aged 57 and 69 who died in their homes in Santa Clara, California, on February 6 and 17 respectively, and this was 23 days before the US announced its first Covid-19 fatality in Kirkland, Washington, on February 29. Their demise was attributed to flu post-mortem but it later emerged that they had been victims of the novel coronavirus. Since they had never travelled outside their community for years, they must have contracted the disease within the locality.

The Santa Clara county’s chief medical office Sarah Cody said the deaths of the two was probably the tip of the iceberg of unknown size. Dr Jeffrey Smith, the Santa Clara county executive, he too a medical doctor, opined that the coronavirus must have been spreading in California unrecognised for a long time now.

Indeed, if we take stock of the fact that passengers on board the Grand Princess cruise ship, which departed California on February 11, developed Covid-19 whilst on board, the odds certainly are that Covid-19 hit much earlier in the US than it hit the headlines. As Cody pointedly put it, “We had so few pixels you could hardly pick out the image. Suddenly, we have so many pixels all of sudden that we now realise we didn’t know what we were looking for.”

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

In Europe, a radiology research team at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Colma, France, has traced the first Covid-19 case in that country to November 16, 2019 according to reports by NBC News and The New York Times. The researchers came to this finding after examining 2500 chest X-rays taken from November 1, 2019 to April 30 this year.

French authorities declared the first Covid-19 case on January 24 having detected it in three nationals who had recently been to China, though it has now transpired that whilst one finger was point to China, four were point back at France itself.

It came to light last month that a sample taken from a French patient with pneumonia on December 27 subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus. “There’s no doubt for us it was already there in December,” Dr Yves Cohen, head of intensive care at the Avicenne and Jean Verdier hospitals in the northern suburbs of Paris, told The New York Times on May 4 this year. “It is quite possible that there were isolated cases that led to transmission chains that died down.”

Weighing in on the matter too, Michel Schmitt, who led the Albert Schweitzer Hospital research, said, “The testimonies are really rich; they show that people felt that something strange was going on, but they were not in a capacity to raise the alarm.”

THE CAMBRIDGE AND UCL FINDINGS

Meanwhile, two independent research projects by two of Britain’s premier institutions of learning have turned up evidence that Covid-19 was in Europe as early as the third quarter of 2019.  Following a study to understand the historical processes that led to the Covid-19 pandemic, the University of Cambridge found that the coronavirus outbreak appears to have started between September 13 and December 7 in 2019.

The University College London’s Genetics Institute (UCL) analysed genomes from the Covid-19 virus in over 7,500 people and deduced that the pandemic must have started between October 6 and December 11 in 2019.
The UCL team analysed virus genomes, using published sequences from over 7,500 people with Covid-19 across the globe. Their report, titled HYPERLINK “https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567134820301829” \l “s0045” \t “_blank” Emergence of Genomic Diversity and Recurrent Mutations in SARS-CoV-2, was published in the May 6, 2020 edition of the journal Infection, Genetics and Evolution.

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