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Recognition of former presidents: the case of Festus Gontebanye Mogae

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

Last week we considered the recognition or lack thereof of former President Sir Ketumile Masire. This week we consider Masire’s successor, Festus Gontebanye Mogae. Just like we did with Masire, we first attempt to answer the question: who is Festus Gontebanye Mogae? To answer this question we rely on his biographical information published by the Botswana government.

Mogae, a commoner from a minor tribe of Batalaote, matriculated at Moeng College and went on to train as an Economist at the Universities of Oxford and Sussex in the United Kingdom. He took up the post of Planning Officer in 1968 and progressed to become Director of Economic Affairs. He was Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning from 1975 to 1976.

Mogae became Alternate Governor for Botswana at the International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development from 1971 to 1976. He served in various parastatal boards including Water Utilities, Botswana Housing Corporation, Botswana Meat Commission, Botswana Meat Commission (United Kingdom) Holdings, ECCO Cold Stores Limited and Allied Meat Importers Limited.

Mogae was also Director, and later Chairman of the Botswana Development Corporation, Representative of the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation, Director of the De Beers Botswana Mining Company (Pty) Limited (Diamond Mining Company), Botswana RST Limited, BamaNgwato Concessions Limited (BCL) and Bank of Botswana.

Mogae served in Washington DC as Alternate and Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund for Anglophone Africa from 1976 to 1980. He then came home to take up the position of Governor of the Bank of Botswana which he held from 1980 to 1981.

From 1982 to 1989 Mogae was Permanent Secretary to the President, Secretary to the Cabinet and Supervisor of Elections. He was appointed Minister of Finance and Development Planning in 1989. He ascended to the Vice Presidency in 1992, a position he held until 31st March, 1998 when he became the third President of the Republic of Botswana following Masire’s retirement.

Mogae was Governor for Botswana for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Member of the Joint Development Committee of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on the transfer of real resources to developing countries, Washington DC from 1989 to 1990.

He was also involved in community oriented organizations which include Kalahari Conservation Society, Botswana Society (Research Organization) of which he became President, Lions Club of Palapye, President of the Botswana Society for the Deaf as well as being Patron of Junior Achievement Botswana.

Mogae also became Chairman of the National AIDS Council which was launched 30 March 2000.     He was awarded the highest honor of the Republic of Botswana, Naledi Ya Botswana – Gaborone on 30th September 2003 and the Presidential Order of Honour of Botswana in 1989. Mogae was also awarded the Officier de I’Order Nationale D’e Cote d’Ivoire (1979); I’Order Nationale du Mali and the HATAB’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Botswana’s Tourism Industry (1997).

Mogae was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws – University of Botswana in September 1998; the Global Marketplace Award by the Corporate Council on Africa – Houston, USA in May 1999; an Honorary Fellowship of the Botswana Institute of Bankers – Gaborone, Botswana in July 1999; the Distinguished Achievement Award for AIDS Leadership in Southern Africa by the Medunsa Trust – Washington DC, USA in June 2000.

Additionally, Mogae was awarded the AIDS Leadership Award by Harvard AIDS Institute – Gaborone in December 2001; the 2002 Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference Weekend Chairman’s Award –Washington D.C., USA in September 2002; the Africa-America Institute National Leadership Award – New York, USA in September 2002 and the Honorary Fellow –University College Oxford in 2003.

Adding to his awards is The Knight Commander of the Most Courteous Order of the Kingdom of Lesotho – Maseru, Lesotho in April 2004; the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) International Leadership Award –Gaborone in October 2004; the Golden Plate Award by the Academy of Achievement -New York, USA in June 2005 and the Grand Croix – Highest award in Madagascar grated to dignitaries of the Nation Antananarivo, Madagascar in June 2006.

Other of Mogae’s awards include the Pan African Tsetse and Tryponofomiasis (PATTEC) by the African Union – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2007, Doctorate of Humanity by the University of Limkokwing, Gaborone Botswana in January 2008; The Commander of the Legion d’Honneur Grand Croix of the Republic of France – Paris, France in March 2008 and Taylor and Francis Award for significant contribution to women’s development and welfare – Gaborone, Botswana in July 2008.

It is apposite that before we consider whether or not Mogae is getting the recognition he deserves we should have a cursory discussion of the achievements and failures of his presidency. I say cursory because the achievements and failures of a person of Mogae’s stature cannot be adequately discussed in an article of this sort. It requires a book.

In discussing Mogae’s achievements and failures we consider his performance in the area of politics within the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP); his performance as Minister of Finance and Development Planning; his performance as Vice President and President; his performance in the international community; his general social life and his conduct after he retired as president.

Firstly, his performance as a politician. Evidently, Mogae was more of a technocrat than a politician. This is probably because of his strong educational back ground in economics and his colorful career as a civil servant and diplomat.

The aforegoing notwithstanding, in 1994, Mogae contested in the general elections under the BDP and won the Palapye constituency. He was an active member of the Botswana Democratic Party and served in various committees of the party including the Central Committee (CC). He was Chairman of the CC’s Finance and Economic Committee, and Member of the CC responsible for Letswapo Region from 1992 to 1995.

Mogae’s political detractors blame him for a leadership style of favoritism and purging which allowed the continued existence of factionalism within the party. His detractors contend that he failed to curb the factionalism which started during Masire’s tenure. They argue that it is his kids gloves’ treatment of then Vice President Khama which further fermented factionalism within the party.

By his own admission, Mogae did not do well in introducing critical political reforms. Asked by Tefo Pheage of Mmegi newspaper in October 2015 whether he has any regrets he said “Of course yes, my failure to introduce a quota system for women to improve their political representation and my failure to scrap off our current electoral system to replace it with either proportional representation or anything along those lines to accommodate the marginalized groups.”

As reported in the Sunday Standard newspaper edition of 1st April 2007, Mogae rejected such key electoral reforms as proportional representation, direct presidential elections and political party funding though he has reportedly kept an open mind about the latter.   
 
Secondly, his performance as Minister of Finance and Development Planning. Owing to his strong academic background in Economics and his career both locally and internationally as shown by his biography, Mogae performed exceptionally well as Minister of Finance and Development Planning. Consequently, during his tenure as minister and even when he was Vice President and President, Botswana enjoyed unparalleled economic growth.   

Thirdly, his performance as Vice President and President. The highlight of Mogae’s Presidency is his prioritization of the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He was the face of the ‘Ntwa e Bolotse’ campaign which saw the establishment and strengthening of the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) and the National AIDS Council (NAC) which he personally chaired.

It is Mogae’s prioritization of the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic which led to the arrival of such international organizations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s African Youth Alliance (AYA) project and the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership (ACHAP) which assisted the government and local non-governmental organizations in the fight against the HIV/AIDS scourge.

Perhaps the most telling of Mogae’s presidency is his decision for the government to provide anti-retroviral treatment to those that are HIV positive and/or have AIDS. At the time when such other presidents as former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, were in denial, Mogae acted decisively by ensuring the provision of free anti-retroviral treatment and supporting and partly funding the establishment of such counselling and testing centers as Tebelopele Voluntary Testing & Counselling Centre.

Mogae will also be remembered as a president who, in defence of Botswana’s diamond trade, fought against Survival International (SI)’s campaigns to label Botswana’s diamonds as ‘blood diamonds’, alleging that the real reason why government relocated Basarwa from the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) was for diamond exploration and mining.

SI’s campaign, which involved Roy Sesana and the First People of the Kgalagadi, led to a court battle which though government lost with the court holding that it was unlawful for Basarwa to be relocated from their birth land, government compelled many Basarwa to relocate through disconnection of such facilities as water.   

According to an article by Dr. Botswiri Oupa Tsheko in the Sunday Standard newspaper edition of 27th January 2008 when Mogae left office in 2008, “Botswana was classified as an upper middle-income country with approximately 7000 kilometers of tarred roads, a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in 2004 of approximately US$3000, almost universal free education, 68 percent adult literacy, four doctors per thousand population, and infant mortality of approximately 58 per 1000 live births”.

Dr. Tsheko also states that “Botswana was awarded the highest sovereign credit rating in Africa by both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s in 2004. A combination of effective institutions, political stability and sound economic policies allowed Botswana to successfully harvest natural resource abundance in diamonds. Botswana has become the second largest diamond volume producer in the world after Australia, and the largest producer in terms of output value”.

While this admirable economic record cannot be solely attributed to Mogae to the exclusion of his predecessors, he played a critical role in the realization of such an enviable record from the time he was Planning Officer in the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning to the time he retired from the presidency. He indeed lived the Vision 2016 ideals which he in fact championed throughout his tenure.

At no time during his presidency was Mogae proven to be corrupt. He ruled well and avoided populist measures which are often exploited for corrupt purposes. He was, however, accused of maladministration when he granted his then Vice President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, an unprecedented sabbatical leave and allowed him to fly Botswana Defence Force (BDF) military aircraft.     

Fourthly, his performance in the international community. Mogae was Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers from 1992 until 1996. Mogae was also Member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Member of the Parliamentarians for Global Action based in New York and the Global Coalition for Africa based in Washington D.C.

Fifthly, his general social life. Demonstrating his value for the family as the basic unit of society, Rra Nametso is married and has children. That notwithstanding, his name was tainted by unconfirmed allegations of lack of marital peace to the extent that at some time there were allegations of an imminent marital separation or divorce.

Still in his social realm, Mogae’s reputation was tainted by unconfirmed allegations of alcohol abuse. Allegations of parental neglect especially in relation to his father, Ditlhabano Mogae, also did not do good to Mogae’s reputation. Those who attended his father’s burial claimed that his father’s home did not resemble that of the father to the state president.

Batswana came to know Mogae as a straight talker who lacked diplomacy. But, they still adored him and even today often relate the story where Mogae, during a Kgotla meeting in Mogoditshane following the demolition of squatters’ houses, took on a person making a mockery of him and said “Oo, ga o nkomanya lenna ke tla ke tlaa go ikomanyetsa…”

Sixthly, his conduct after his retirement on 31st March 2008. After retirement, Mogae continued with his fight against HIV/AIDS by chairing the NAC. He also became a champion of such issues as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered people and commercial sex workers’ rights in as far as access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment measures are concerned.

Post retirement, Mogae has also participated in peace keeping missions. Together with former Mali President, Alpha Oumar Konare and Former Prime Minister of Djibouti, Dileita Mohamed Dileita, he, in 2014, made up a team of the African Union High-Level Panel for Egypt.

In 2013, Mogae and former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, joined a team from the Forum for Former African Heads of State and Government (the Africa Forum) that mediated in the Lake Niassa border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania.

In October 2015, the Chairman of the East African Regional Bloc Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, appointed Mogae as chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) for South Sudan. He heads the commission that monitors the implementation of the agreement to resolve the conflict in South Sudan.

Post retirement, Mogae has also commented on several national issues relating to good governance, inner party democracy and the treatment of such minority groups as gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people and commercial sex workers. Unfortunately, just like Masire, this has earned him scorn from the BDP and president Khama who have blamed him for trying to rule from the grave.  

In view of Mogae’s outstanding achievements as shown above, I was surprised when I realized that there is nothing Botswana has named in his honor. I say honor and not remembrance because I believe that our heroes and heroines should be celebrated during their lifetime and not only remembered when they are dead. A life not celebrated in life is a life killed.
 
Is it not an embarrassment that there is no single road, street, stadium, school, clinic or hospital named after Mogae? Would we rather call our streets by such weird and divisive names as Ditimamolelo and Marapoathutwa than ‘Festus Gontebanye Mogae’? Would we rather name our streets and roads after foreign former presidents than our own former presidents?

Lefesto, as he is affectionately called, deserves to have something named after him during his lifetime and not when he has departed this world. So does former president Sir Ketumile Masire. And so does President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama. Queen Elizabeth II too may wish to consider conferring a knighthood on Mogae just like she did for Masire and the late Sir Seretse Khama.

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A “Virgin” Conceives

2nd March 2021
IT’S THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, STUPID

Princess Mary falls pregnant only one month after her betrothal to Prince Joseph

To put the lineage of Mary the mother of Jesus in context, General Atiku, it is in order that we begin with her grandfather Yehoshua  (Jesus in Greek) III.

Mary was offspring of two royal lines, the Davidic line and the Hasmonean line. Yehoshua III was the Herod–appointed High Priest of Israel between 36 and 23 BC.  He had no sons, only three daughters namely Joanna, Elizabeth, and Anna, all of whom he organised dynastic suitors.

Elizabeth would be married off into the House of Aaron, the legitimate priestly line, and Joanna and Anna would be married off into the House of David, the legitimate kingly line. That’s how Elizabeth became the wife of Zechariah of the tribe of Levi and in due course the mother of John the Baptist.

Mainstream Israel up to the level of the Sanhedrin had recognised Anna as the eligible mother of the future King of Israel and not the sitting impostor Herod (it is not clear what happened to first-born Joanna but she probably passed away before she got married). Anna was accordingly married off to Alexander III, a Davidic and Hasmonean prince who was best known as Heli as indeed the genealogy of Luke clearly attests.

Heli and Anna too had no sons. They only had daughters, the firstborn of whom was Dorcas, whose was born in 26 BC and whose titular name was Mary.  Mary was orphaned early in her childhood when her father Heli was killed in 17 BC at the orders of the increasingly paranoid Herod and when her mother Anna died a year or so later.

Since she was a dynastic heiress, it was likely that Herod would come after her. The Essenes thus secreted her somewhere in remote Galilee. It was actually in Galilee that most members of the Davidic royal line were concentrated not only to keep as far away from Herod as possible but to also enjoy the protective custody of the Zealots, who were the secret military wing of the Essenes and a thorn in the side of both Herod and the Romans.  Joseph was also officially based in Galilee although both he and Mary were in truth based at Qumran in the Judean wilds.

JOSEPH CALLED TO “DUTY”

Dynastic marriages are often more politically strategic than spontaneous, General. For example, the union of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was motivated by the need to fuse the Windsor genes with those of the Stuarts as the Windsors, being predominantly Reptilians, were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their human form.

The Stuarts, the clan of Diana, had by far more human genes than Reptilian and they too were an aristocratic family. That’s why once Charles had produced a  “heir and a spare”, he completely sidelined Diana, who he had never loved, and devoted himself to his real love – Camilla Parker-Bowles.

The marriage of Joseph to Mary, General, was equally strategic. Although both were from the tribe of Judah and of the royal Davidic line, they were from different branches.  Joseph was a descendant of Solomon, whereas Mary was a descendant of Nathan, Solomon’s elder brother. The line of Solomon, as we once underlined, had been tainted by the Jeconiah curse.

The line of Nathan was clean. Since the son of Joseph and Mary would be the future King of Israel, it was important that he not be compromised by the baggage, rightly or wrongly, of the Jeconiah curse. Hence the desirability of the union of Prince Joseph and Princess Mary.

Now, both Joseph and Mary’s clans were Essenes. As such, their marriage process, formalities, and protocols had to strictly adhere to Essene dynastic rules. The Essenes were in ranks. Amongst the higher echelons were the two great dynasties, the Davids and the Zadoks, who had been the high priests and kings of Israel respectively before the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.

The Davids and Zadoks lived a strictly holy life, typically in a monastery at Qumran, the reclusive headquarters of the Essenes. They were sequestered there so that they did not fall prey to the machinations of the bloodthirsty King Herod though officially their address was Galilee.  In fact, the major reason the Essene movement had come into existence was to preserve and safeguard the Davidic and Zadokite lines, the religio-politico haunt of Herod and the Hasmoneans initially.

According to the Essene code, General, the Zadoks and the Davids were not to engage in sex for recreational purposes because it was regarded as defiling: it diluted holiness. The only times they were supposed to do so was when need arose to produce heirs. In 8 BC, it was now opportune for Joseph, the David, to produce a heir and so he was excused from a life of chastity.

At this point in time in fact, the Essenes were focused on two dynastic figures. These were Joseph and Zechariah. The two were expected to produce the Messiah of David and the Messiah of Aaron, that is, the future King of Israel and the future High Priest of Israel.

According to Essene rules, the David had to marry at age 36, so that by the time he was 40, he had already sired a heir. The new heir had to be born when the David was 37. If the child was a daughter, she could not inherit, and so the David had to set about the procreation of a second-born, who hopefully would be a boy (copulation to that end was allowed only when the daughter was 3 years old).

The Davidic heir had to be born not in any other month but in September, the holiest in the Jewish calendar. In order to conform to these parameters, a betrothal ceremony was held at the beginning of June. During the betrothal period – the three months from beginning of June to end of August – sexual relations were not permitted.

Then at the beginning of September, a First Marriage was held. This was the beginning of the marriage proper as now the couple were allowed to become intimate. However, the intimacy began only in December, with a view to delivering a heir in September the following year. At the end of March, the Second Marriage was held for it was hoped that by that time the spouse was three months pregnant if there hadn’t been a miscarriage. With the Second Marriage, the wedlock was permanent: divorce was never allowed whatsoever.

Meanwhile, General, if the spouse hadn’t conceived in December, sexual relations were suspended till December the following year. The husband would then leave her spouse and return either to the monastery at Qumran or embark on a tour of duty elsewhere in furtherance of the Essene cause.

A BINDING ENGAGEMENT

According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, General, the Essenes were not only a spiritual, revolutionary, and philosophical movement. They were also ardent believers in astrology. They meticulously studied the stars and the movements of planets to read what they portended about the future.

Thus the reason a Davidic heir had to be born in September was not only because this was the holiest month of the year: it was also in recognition of the fact that September was ruled by the constellation Virgo. In other words, September was astrologically the month of the virgin. That was what Mary was.

Mary was both a virgin physically and a virgin titularly. A bride of the future king was required to be a virgin. As an Essene, Mary belonged to the Order (not the tribe) of Dan.  This was the Order of Nuns, or virgins, both legal and physical virgins. Thus in the Order of Dan, a woman was not a virgin only before she slept with a man: she was a virgin until she was six months pregnant. In the case of a dynastic spouse like Mary, this was up to end of June.  From then henceforth, she was promoted within the Order to the first stage of a Mother.

Joseph’s betrothal to Mary took place at Qumran in June 8 BC. Now, in our day, betrothal simply means engagement to be married. In ancient Israel up to New Testament times, betrothal was part and parcel of the marriage contract. It was definite and binding upon both groom and bride, who were considered as man and wife in all legal and religious aspects, except that sexual relations were not permitted.

For example, in 2 SAMUEL 3:14, King David refers to his betrothed woman as “my wife”. Also in DEUTERONOMY 22:24, a betrothed woman is referred to as “his neighbour’s wife”.  In the betrothal formalities, dowry and bride price were included. If a bride and groom for one reason or the other wanted to opt out of the betrothal after the betrothal ceremony, they had to seek a formal divorce.

Since the betrothal took place in June, General, Joseph and Mary were not supposed to make love till December, that is, six months after the betrothal ceremony and three months after the First Marriage ceremony in September. Just one month after the betrothal ceremony (that is, at the beginning of July 8 BC), however, Mary became pregnant. Was it Joseph, General? Was it rape by a Roman soldier called Panthera as some contemporary records suggest? Or was it simply the supernatural act of the “Holy Spirit” as Christendom holds?

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS

Those who hold that the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy were supernatural, General, can be excused. This is because the language employed therein smacks of ethereality – Holy Spirit, Angel Gabriel, Son of the Most High, etc. To those who have read and rigorously studied the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, such terminology is well within the temporal context.

That is to say, it does not carry spiritual connotations as such. True, the idea of an angel speaking to Joseph and Mary in their sleep may seem supernatural but the dreams are theological interpolations, inserted into the gospels in onward editing to fit a contrived agenda – what Karl Marx called the opium of the masses.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are so named because they were discovered in caves around the Qumran plateau of the West Bank (about 40 km east of Jerusalem), at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea, in March 1947. The discoverer was a Bedouin shepherd kid who was looking for a lost goat. The scrolls were found hidden in jars.

The 1947 find was the initial discovery: more discoveries were made after further excavations on the same site spanning 11 years in a series of 11 caves. Altogether, 972 texts were   turned up. They are written in four languages, namely Hebrew (the majority), Aramaic, Greek, and Nabatean, mostly on parchment. Other texts were inscribed on papyrus and bronze.

Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls are fragments. Fragments of all the Old Testament books have been found save for the book of Esther. The only complete book is Isaiah.  There are also apocryphal books (those arbitrarily excluded from the Old Testament canon by the Constantine-convened Nicene Council of AD 325) such as the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, and sect-specific writings that embody rules and beliefs of the people who compiled them.

The latter include commentaries on the Old Testament, paraphrases that expand on the Law of Moses, rule books of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and sapiential (wisdom) writing. These texts have been given appropriate titles such as the War Scroll; Manual of Discipline; the Community Rule; the Temple Scroll; the Copper Scroll; etc.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were written/preserved by the Essenes between 168 BC and 68 AD. We know this because Pliny, the first century Roman historian, wrote that, “On the west coast of Lake Asphaltitis (the Dead Sea) are settled the Essenes, at some distance from the noisome odours that are experienced on the shore itself.

They are a lonely people, the most extraordinary in the world, who live without women, without love, without money, with the palm trees for their only companions.”   The Essenes stashed away the scrolls sometime in 70 AD, when Roman General Flavius Titus overran Jerusalem and laid waste to the Temple following a catastrophic Jewish uprising – led by the Zealots, the military wing of the Essenes – that began in 66 BC.

This they did in heed of JEREMIAH 32:14, which says, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences … and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.” The Dead Sea Scrolls have given us invaluable insight into the beliefs, customs, rituals, politics, philosophies, and traditions of first century Palestine.

NEXT WEEK: THE PANTERA INVOLVEMENT

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A crash course in publicity

2nd March 2021

The rivalry between luxury German automotive marques Mercedes-Benz and BMW is legendary. Both brands offer high-end, high-priced desirable models, always at the forefront of cutting-edge driving technology and excellence. And in the annals of the advertising world, a campaign between the two rivals is equally legendary and it happened on our own doorstep.

Many of you will be familiar with the coastal road out of Cape Town called Chapman’s Peak. It is a beautiful, sightseeing attraction, the road winding through spectacular coastal-mountain scenery, with cliffs sinking into the  Atlantic ocean on one side, and steep mountains towering over the road on the other. However, the road is also notoriously dangerous, with its 114 sharp, meandering bends . It’s reputation is well-deserved . Several years ago, when a major coastal cleanup campaign was launched, a helicopter pulled a total of 22 wrecked cars out of the water adjacent to Chapman’s Peak and it was one such accident which prefaced the notorious marketing battle. The story is thus:

In 1988 an Irish businessman lost control of his Mercedes Benz when driving along this road, plunging 100 metres down the cliff. Miraculously, he not only survived the accident, but crawled out of the wreckage with hardly a scratch on his body.

When Mercedes heard the details, the marketing department decided to base a new advertisement on the story to promote the safety features and stability of the brand. In the video ad they intentionally drove an identical model off the road in the exact same location, having it plunge off the edge of the cliff, the driver stepping out similarly unscathed, proving the phenomenal survivability and strength of Mercedes Benz.

When the marketing suits at BMW saw this ad, they took a bold and ingenious decision to mimic it but with a twist. Only a week later, whilst the first ad was still fresh in the public’s minds, they shot their ad showing a BMW driving along the exact same stretch of road in the rain. However, when it reached the point at which the Mercedes plunged off the cliff, the BMW negotiated it safely, and continued driving along the road.

The catchphrase of the ad was “BMW beats the bends” . Or was it? It was cunningly recorded so that it could equally have been ‘beats the Benz’, implying that their cars had superior cornering and stability to their rival, Even more sneakily, they launched their campaign on a Saturday, mindful of the rules on competitive advertising in South Africa, safe in the knowledge that no objectionable actions could be taken till the new working week.

Mercedes-Benz wasted no time on Monday in issuing an injunction, the ad was swiftly pulled but the damage was done and the dog had had its day. The ad campaign ranks high in the history of advertising and can still be found online to this day. Meanwhile the rivalry between the two automotive greats goes on.

I reference this piece of marketing history in the light of this week’s horror crash by golfing great, Tiger Woods. Driving from a luxury holiday resort in California to a nearby country club Tiger Woods lost control of his vehicle on a downhill stretch of the road, smashed through a road sign, crossed over the central reservation and rolled his car several hundred feet. He had to be cut out and pulled to safety through the windscreen and the vehicle was so badly damaged, the attending police officers said he was ‘lucky to survive’.

The vehicle Woods was driving was a rented Genesis GV80 SUV. If you are unfamiliar with the brand that is not surprising since it is a relatively new spin-off from the South Korean Hyundai marque. The Genesis utility vehicle, not available locally yet, retails for around $50,000 or half a million pula, placing it in the higher end of town and country SUVs in the USA.

The model has certainly been widely publicised in the media coverage of the high-profile sportsman’s accident and I suspect that if asked to comment, Hyundai/Genesis would disagree with the police assessment, putting Woods’ survival down to build quality and in-built safety features such as crumple zones, anti-roll bars and airbags, which were deployed in the crash and would most certainly have played their part cushioning the effects of the rolling and ultimate impact. There is , of course, no suggestion that the manufacturers will capitalise on Woods’ survival but certainly it will have done the brand no harm that he did indeed emerge with recoverable injuries.

Comparing the two accidents, the driver of the Mercedes driving along Chapman’s Peak was, of course, an ordinary member of the public whilst Tiger Woods is a household name. That said, in humanitarian terms each tale of survival carries equal weight but the fact remains that the former was just another local story of yet one more victim of a notoriously tricky stretch of road whilst the latter went round the world in an instant because of the fame and name of the driver.

There is also no evidence that that stretch of Californian urban highway carried any inherent risk. His appears to have been just a loss of control and a freak accident. However, in the event that Hyundai/Genesis should consider making capital from that accident, a note of caution needs to be sounded.

In the advertising world, the use of celebrities to promote a product is a fall-back stance to sell anything from washing-up liquid to whisky but statistics have shown that it can be a double-edged sword in that yes, the ads are memorable and the public love them when the celeb is popular and personable. But…..what is often remembered is the name of the famous promoter, not the name of the product. In other words, they sell themselves far better than they sell the item.

In golfing terminology Hyundai/Genesis are not ‘out of the Woods’ yet and maybe they should go with a completely different Driver!

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Pact with the Devil

2nd March 2021
THE LORD’S GREAT GRANDMOTHER

How Jesus’s grandfather sold his birthright to megalomaniac Herod

If you were to ask a Christian to name the main Jewish sects, General Atiku, he would no doubt begin with the Pharisees (because Jesus had innumerable slanging matches with  them according to the gospels), followed by the Sadducees.  Yet there was a third, equally momentous sect – the Essenes.

Although there’s not a single, one mention of the Essenes in the Bible, General, the New Testament is filled with Essene-type language as anybody who has read the Dead Sea Scrolls would readily recognise.

In point of fact, it was the Essenes who produced Jesus as well as the infamous Jewish band of freedom fighters known as the Zealots. Furthermore, almost all the New Testament writers were either Essenes or champions of the Essene cause as is apparent in their language and the drift of their overall philosophy.   The Essenes have a palpable presence in the Bible, albeit a cloaked one.

The Essenes, General, were the most popular, the most esteemed, and the most influential of the Jewish sects. The Jewish historian Philo (20 BC-50 AD) devotes 90 percent of his description of the Jewish sects to the Essenes. He wrote that the Essenes  “dwell in many cities of Judea and in many villages and in great societies of many numbers”.

Hyppolytus of Rome (170-236 AD) devoted nine-and-half chapters to the Essenes and only one to the Sadducees.     The Essenes are the authors of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in 1947 in Israel at a place called Qumran and which have given us even greater insight into the happenings in the first century than the Bible itself.

How did the Essene movement come about, General?  The Essenes, meaning “puritans of the faith”, were the Jewish sect that was the most loyal to the Davidic dynasty. They set themselves apart from the mainstream Jewish community circa 175 BC and established their headquarters at Qumran,  about 40 km from Jerusalem.

Since the Jewish nation revered the Davidic royal line, the only legitimate and rightful rulers of Judah in their view, they rallied to the Essenes en masse. And because the Essenes were disparaging of the Hasmonean rule (140 BC to 63 BC), the mainstream Jews also took a dismissive view of Hasmonean rule too.

The Essenes were so highly regarded because of their virtue and spirituality. The legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) writes thus of them: “They are more mutually affectionate than the others (Pharisees and Sadducees). Whereas these men shun the pleasures as vice, they consider self-control and not succumbing to the passions virtue  … Since [they are] despisers of wealth –  their communal stock is astonishing – one cannot find a person among them who has more in terms of possessions.

For by a law, those coming into the school (that is, the Essene fold) must yield up their funds to the order, with the result that in all [their ranks] neither the humiliation of poverty nor the superiority of wealth is detectable, but the assets of each one have been mixed in together, as if they were brothers, to create one fund for all.”

In time, the Essenes, General, became quite influential even with occupying powers. For instance, when the Greek General Pompey installed Hyrcanus II as ruler of  Palestine in 63 BC,  he sought the opinion  of the Essenes. The Essenes recommended that Hyrcanus go by the titles High Priest and Prince, not King, to which Pompey paid heed. In  142 BC, when Simon was installed by the Seleucids as ruler of Palestine, the Essenes had insisted on the same titular style. To the Essenes, everybody who occupied Israel’s seat of authority was simply holding fort for the real deal – the Davidic  King.

In 37 BC, when Herod became King of Palestine, the potential Davidic King was Jacob-Eliakim – the father of the Joseph of the gospels – who was an Essene himself. It was in order to win the blessings of the historically popular Jewish royal family that Herod sought to curry favour with the Essenes.

JACOB’S PACT WITH HEROD

About the time Herod came to power, General, there were three citizens of considerable stature in Palestine – Hillel, Menahem, and Jacob-Eliakim, the grandfather of Jesus. Hillel is by all accounts ancient Israel’s greatest teacher and scholar.

He was the foremost spiritual sage in the development of the Talmud and the Mishnah, the most authoritative religious references of the Jews which are second only to the Old Testament in esteem.   The renowned “Golden Rule”, which is invariably attributed to Jesus, was actually coined by Hillel. It is not certain whether Hillel was an Essene but his teachings did have a profound influence both on Essene philosophy and that of Jesus, who was an Essene too.

It was Menahem, however, who was an incontrovertible Essene. The Essenes were of two main branches, General. First, there were the puritans, the Palestinian Essenes. Then there were the liberals, the Diaspora Essenes, who sneered at the Palestinian Essenes’ dogmatism and rather strict views on morality. Menahem was the leader of the  Diaspora Essenes.

He was also privilleged to be advisor to King Herod. Herod did hold Menahem in very high regard. Josephus relates that when Herod was a school-going lad, Menahem had patted him on his back and said to him, “one day you will be King young man.” Since the prophecy came to pass, Herod had a certain, atypical respect both for Menahem and the order of Essenes.

Jacob-Eliakim’s significance was by virtue of his pedigree. He was of the royal line of David and was therefore the uncrowned King of the Jews. Now, as we have already indicated, Herod had his own grand designs about rulership of the world notwithstanding the fact that he was in reality a vassal of Rome.

When he made overtures to the trio, they didn’t mince words: they told him that in the new Israel, the Israel that would rule Earth once the Romans had been toppled from the pedestal of world power, it was a Davidic King who would reign. Herod took very strong  exception to such a prospect. Herod was neither a full-blooded Jew nor of Davidic stock but he was royalty in his own right.

His father, Antipater,  had been the governor of Idumea and in due course Judea in  the Hasmonean government and was in fact the real ruler of the entire Palestine, with John Hyrcanus being a  mere figurehead king.  When he (Herod) was only 25 years old, his father had appointed him governor of Galilee.   Herod thus had strutted the corridors of power from the day he was born and he wasn’t going to give that up easily either for his own sake or that of his descendants.

As such, General, Herod maintained to the trio that in the new, overarching Kingdom of Israel, he was going to be the emperor and would be based in Jerusalem. Just like the Greek empire of Alexander had been a triarchy (a kingdom divided into three governments), the global Kingdom of Israel (“Thy Kingdom Come” in the Lord’s Prayer) was going to be likewise.

There was going to be a ruler in the east, a ruler in the west, and a ruler in the centre, that is Jerusalem, under the oversight of Herod himself. Hillel would rule in Jerusalem; Menahem in the east; and Jacob-Eliakim in the west. If these three happened to have disappeared from the Earthly scene by the time the Kingdom of Israel came into being, their descendants would observe the same setup.

The pecking order would thus be like this: Herod as the emperor; Hillel as the senior king; Menahem as the second-ranked king; and Jacob-Eliakim as the junior king. Put differently, Herod had by the stroke of a pen reduced the Davidic dynasty from foremost to least important as it posed the most serious threat to his office. Meanwhile, the three kings-in-waiting would go by the names of the Old Testament patriarchs.

Hillel would henceforth be called the Abraham, or the Father (or Papa, which later morphed into Pope), since Abraham was the Father of the Jewish nation; Menahem would be called the Isaac (Abraham’s son); and Eliakim the Jacob (Isaac’s son). Half a loaf was better than nothing at all and so Jacob-Eliakim meekly accepted this arrangement.

When Jesus later said, “Many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the new Kingdom of Heaven (MATTHEW 8:11),” he did not mean an afterlife kingdom: he referred to the Earthly setup proposed by King Herod.

FALLOUT WITH ESSENES

Those days, General, the Davidic heir used the title “Jacob” rather than “David” as the latter title was very risky, particularly under the Hasmonean government. Given that Joseph was the most beloved son of the Old Testament Jacob, the next in line, that is, the firstborn son of the Jacob, used the title “Joseph”.

In September 44 BC, a son was born to Jacob-Eliakim. As the crown prince to the Jacob, he was given the titular name Joseph, the name by which he became best-known.  Like his father Jacob-Eliakim, Joseph was a missionary. But he also had a trade. He was a carpenter, a boat builder primarily, and a master of his craft. The word translated “carpenter” in the Bible is the ancient Greek word “ho hekton” which means a master artisan or craftsman.

In 31 BC, Qumran, the Essenes’ Judean wilderness bastion, was struck by an earthquake. The hermitic Essenes had no choice but to trek back to Jerusalem, from where they operated indefinitely at a place they called the Essene Gate. Then in 23 BC, Herod struck again. He had Jacob-Eliakim killed on trumped-up charges of sedition, his motive simply being a continuation of a systematic purge of  the Davidic “pretenders” to his throne.

The Essenes were wroth. They now set about promulgating to the Diaspora Essenes that Herod would have no part to play in the coming Kingdom. Instead, the overall King would be Joseph, the son of Jacob-Eliakim. This, General, was the beginning of a permanent rift between Herod and the Essene sect.

THE SAGA OF JOSEPH

The prospective global world, General, was subdivided into ten provinces to facilitate governance and tax collection. Palestine would have two provinces, Judea and Samaria, the latter of which would include Galilee. Asia Minor (largely present-day Turkey), where the bulk of Diaspora Jews were concentrated, would have five provinces.

The last three provinces would be Babylon, Rome, and Alexandria in Egypt. The future capital of the West was not Rome: it was Ephesus in Asia Minor. Having been allocated the West, it was in Ephesus and Alexandria that Jacob-Eliakim spent most of his time evangelizing to fellow Jews about the future Kingdom of Israel. This was the beginning of the New Covenant, whereby Jews who converted to the ideal of a new Kingdom of Israel were baptised by immersion in water.

To mainstream Palestinian Jews, General, Jacob-Eliakim was a sellout. Herod had demoted his pedigree but to somewhat placate him, he gave him the honorary title of Patriarch or Prince of Jerusalem. By subordinating the Davidic throne-in-waiting to Herod, Jacob-Eliakim had  gone against what the nation of Israel’s God, Enlil, the Bible’s main Jehovah, decreed – that every King of Judah had to be a descendant of  David. So when the unpredictable Herod had him killed in 23 BC for “sedition”, as part of a pogrom against the line of David, there was very little sympathy for him.

In 44 BC, Joseph had been born to Jacob-Eliakim. Joseph was a title: it was not his real name. At the death of his father, Joseph became the Jacob. However, he preferred the title “David”, the more apt one historically. Joseph would become the father of Jesus. When Joseph attained 30 years of age in 14 BC, his uncles and the Essene sages sent him to Rome and Alexandria to do his part in missionary work, which was simply about promulgating to the Diaspora Jews the future Kingdom of Israel in which a Son of David, that is a descendant of King David, would rule.   Egypt was also a special place because Joseph’s maternal relations were Egyptians.

Jacob-Eliakim, General, had two wives. The one was called Euchariah, a Jewish princess, of whom very little is known, and the other, the dynastic wife, was an Egyptian princess, a daughter of Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Julius Caesar. Jacob-Eliakim and this princess had three sons: they were Joseph, the father of Jesus, and the twins Cleopas (after whom James, Jesus’ immediate younger brother, whose given name was Cleopas, was named) and Ptolas. Joseph was thus the Davidian Prince of Israel as well as contender to Crown Prince of Egypt. Despite pretences to the contrary on the part of the Jews, Egypt and Israel have always had ties of monarchical kinship.

In 8 BC, General, Joseph was required by Essene custom to return home and fulfill his obligations for a dynastic marriage. A wife-to-be had already been chosen for him by his uncles  and other patriarchal Essenes. This was Dorcas, better known today by her title name Mary.

NEXT WEEK: HOW HEROD MINIMISED THE HOUSE OF DAVID

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