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Solar System Takes Shape

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

The Sumerians, the world’s first known civilisation who thrived in Mesopotamia in modern-day  Iraq 6000  years ago recorded a great deal of the history of the Earth on hundreds of thousands of cuneiform clay tablets and cylinder seals, most of which are yet to be unearthed.  

The first such texts were discovered   by a prospecting team led by Sir Austen Henry Layard, a British archaeologist and global explorer, whilst they scoured among the ruins of the city of Nineveh (now called Mosul) in Iraq in 1849.  Altogether, a cache of 50,000 tablets was  found. Many more tablets and fragments of such were in due course found at Ashur, Kish, and Uruk and today nearly 31,000 of these ancient clay tablets are now housed in the British Museum, with most of them yet to be translated.

Arguably the most famous Sumerian text is the Epic of Creation. It is commonly referred to as the Enuma Elish, after its opening words which mean,  “When in the heights …”  During his 7th century BC reign, the famous Assyrian King Ashurbanipal sent emissaries far afield in search of ancient texts and recovered many invaluable records, including the oldest stories of Adam and Eve and the Flood. He copied many from cuneiform originals three thousand years older and sealed them within a vast underground library he had specially constructed for the purpose at Nineveh. The last and 7th stone exalts  the handiwork and greatness of “The Lord”. Hence  the comparison with the Seven Days of Creation found in the Bible, which borrowed its theme from the Babylonians during the Jewish captivity and they in turn from the Sumerians.

Recovered by the Layard party from the ruined Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh in 1849, the Enuma Elish was published by the pioneering British Assyriologist George Smith in 1876 under the title The Chaldean Account of Genesis. The Enuma Elish consists of about a thousand lines etched on seven clay tablets in Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform script. All the tablets, save for Tablet 5, are complete texts.  The first 8 lines of Tablet 1 of the Enuma Elish read thus: “When in the heights Heaven had not been named, and below Earth had not been called, naught but primordial APSU, their begetter;  MUMMU;  and TIAMAT – she who bore them all:  their waters were mingled together. No reed had yet formed, no marshland had appeared. None of the gods had yet been brought into being: none bore a name. Their destinies were undetermined. Then it was that gods were formed in their midst.”

Now, in every language, words have a contextual meaning. That is to say,  they do not mean the exact same thing every time they are used. The word “period” is a good example. In most situations, it refers to a range of time. In others, it  refers to a woman’s menses. By the same token, the word APSU, to use only one ancient word from the above passage as an example, means something  very different from what it does  in other contexts.

The Enuma Elish is at once an allegory and a factual story of how the Solar System came to be,  how it evolved, and how life arose on planet Earth, with the associated political and exopolitical dynamics. Most scholars, myopic and deluded as they are, have called it a myth, just as they do the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, which is unfortunate. The fact of the matter is that the Enuma Elish is a highly insightful historical chronicle.

THE FIRST FAMILY

What the first 8 lines of Tablet 1 of the Enuma Elish tell us is that the Solar System’s initial first members were a trinity of APSU, TIAMAT, and MUMMU.

APSU is described as the “begetter”, that is, the one who brought MUMMU and TIAMAT into existence.   This of course refers to the Sun, from which all the planets stem. Zechariah Sitchin translates APSU as “one who exists from the beginning”. The Sun indeed was the first celestial body to form in our Solar System. But it is from the Igbo language of Nigeria we get the more direct meaning. APSU is Akpu  Osa in Igbo and it means “Ball of Fire,” precisely what  the Sun is. APSU was also  known as BUIDA, meaning “Faraway One” (from bad [remote]) This is apt as from the point of view of Orion and the Sirius star systems, our Solar System lies on the peripheries of the Milky Way Galaxy.

TIAMAT is described as “she who bore them all”. This simply means primeval Mother. In other words, it was the first planet to arise in the Solar System.  TIAMAT stems from Tamtu, which means “place of killed life” (from Ami [life]; Ata [to kill]; and Tu [at the place  of]), or simply Tamu, which means “of killed life”. Tamu is rendered Tehom in Genesis. The planet TIAMAT  was also called DABUN, meaning “Great One From The Beginning” (from Da [great] and Abun [from the beginning]).  Why was DABUN also referred to as “the place of killed life”? That we will unpack in due course; just stay tuned and exercise a bit of patience.

Elsewhere in the Enuma Elish and other independent Sumerian texts, MUMMU is referred to as counsellor, minister, and messenger of his master APSU.   MUMMU means “one who was born”, that is, the first offspring born of APSU the father and TIAMAT the mother. This of course is the planet Mercury.  Mercury was also known as LACHABA, meaning “Speedy Runner” (from lach [speed, fast] and aba [to run]). Mercury has the fastest revolution around the Sun. It takes only 88 Earth days, when the next fastest, Venus, takes 225 Earth days. The ancient Greek and Romans referred to Mercury as the “fast messenger of the gods”, the term god in this context simply meaning “planets”.

The Sumerian tablets in very vivid language characterise APSU and TIAMAT as husband and wife, with MUMMU as their first begotten son.  The tablets read, “Alone did APSU reign in the void …   TIAMAT, the Mother of All, as a spouse for himself he fashioned. A celestial mother, a watery beauty she was indeed! Beside him APSU little MUMMU then brought forth.  As his messenger he him appointed, a gift for TIAMAT to present. A gift resplendent to his spouse APSU granted. A shining metal, the everlasting gold, for her alone to possess!” In Igbo, MUMMU is Omumu, meaning “those who were born”, which bears out the relevance of the name by which the ancients called Mercury.

When the first three celestial bodies of the Solar System came to be, “their waters were mingled together”.  “Waters” refer not to our familiar liquid water but space, which in ancient times was called the” ocean of the Ka”.  The Solar System’s portion of space  was intact in that at that stage it was not yet divided by the Asteroid Belt, which was not into existence then.  TIAMAT was at the time a barren planet, without a single “reed” or “marshland”,  as all planets are in their formative stages. It had no water bodies or vegetation: it became a “watery beauty” after millions of years. “Their destinies were undetermined” means the orbits (called destinies in Sumerian)  of  TIAMAT and MUMMU   were not stable: they were erratic. Again,  this is very much characteristic of planets in their infancy.  

THE BROOD EXPANDS

Line 10 of Tablet 1 of the Enuma Elish reads thus: “Then it was that the two their waters mingled, divine children between them to bring forth. Male and female were the celestials created; LAHMU and LAHAMU by names they were called. In the Below did APSU and TIAMAT make them an abode.”

The next two planets arose as a pair. They were the masculine LAHMU and the feminine LAHAMU. Both names derive from the consonantal stem LHM, which means “to make war”. They are the planets we today call Mars and Venus respectively. Indeed,  the ancients referred to Mars as the God of  War and Venus as the Goddess at once of Love and War.  LAHMU, Mars, was also called GHALODU, meaning the “Fiery One” (from ghal [fiery, fire] and odu [star]). This was because when seen from outer space, it appeared to give off a reddish, fiery light. Venus, LAHAMU, was also known as  COLMAN, meaning “Desolate Jewel” (from col [desolate, uninhabited, desolate] and man [jewel, gem]).  The ancients were aware Venus not only was uninhabitable but had a luminous jewel-like appearance. Our modern selves only became certain of Venus’s anti-life atmospheric conditions when the space probe Mariner 2 surveyed the planet up-close in 1962.  

Tablet 1 goes on to read thus in Line 11 and 12: “Even before they (LAHMU and LAHAMU) had grown in age and in stature to an appointed size, god ANSHAR and god KISHAR were formed, surpassing them [in size].”

The next pair of planets to be engendered from the “commingled” waters of the royal couple APSU and TIAMAT were ANSHAR  and KISHAR. They were born when Mars and Venus were not fully grown, meaning they weren’t that much older. But they grew to a much larger size than their two elder siblings. Clearly,  ANSHAR  and KISHAR  are  Saturn and Jupiter respectively, the Solar System’s largest planets,  Jupiter being the size of 1300 Earths and Saturn the size of 10 Earths.

Despite being much smaller than Jupiter, the Sumerians called Saturn ANSHAR, meaning “Foremost of the Heavens”. Why? Well,  these guys, folks, knew what they were talking  about. Although Saturn is smaller  than Jupiter, it occupies a larger portion of space because of its rings, which extend from 6,630 to 120,700 km above Saturn’s equator. The rings, which the Sumerians called  “lips”, are largely made up of ice particles. At the same time,  the Sumerians knew Jupiter was the largest planet in terms of compact land, that is, minus the rings (Jupiter also has rings, made up of dust, but they are not that pronounced). That’s why they called it KISHAR, meaning “Prince, Foremost of the Firm Lands”. Jupiter was also known as AUGHA (“The Giant”), whereas Saturn’s other name was DORU (“The Ringed One” or “The Majestic One”).

Line 13 to 21 when paraphrased reads thus: “As lengthened the days and multiplied the years, god ANU became their  (ANSHAR and KISHAR’s) son – of his ancestors a rival. Then ANSHAR first-born, Anu, as his equal and in his image begot NUDIMMUD.”

The above text suggests the next pair of planets took a great deal more time to come into being. The first was ANU, meaning “He of the Heavens”. This is the planet Uranus, which is four times Earth’s size.  The term “ancestors” refers to the initial planets, namely Mercury, TIAMAT, Venus, and Mars, which Uranus “rivalled” in size. Since Mars, Mercury,  and Venus are much smaller relative to Uranus, the only planet that could have rivalled  Uranus in size was TIAMAT, which according to Bode’s Law (a well-attested rule which explains why planets formed in the places they did)  is calculated to have been at least twice the size of Earth.

ANU was followed by NUDIMMUND (“artful creator”), “his equal” and who was his spitting “image”.   No doubt this is Neptune. Neptune’s other name was ANTU. Uranus and Neptune are essentially twin planets. The Sumerian’s other name for Uranus was KAKKAB SHANAMMA, meaning “Planet Which Is The Double” of Neptune. This astronomers of our day have confirmed. Let’s again quote Zechariah Sitchin in the same regard: “Uranus is indeed a look-alike of Neptune in size, colour, and watery content: both planets are encircled by rings and orbited by a multitude of moons … Both have an unusually extreme inclination relative to the planets’ axes of rotation – 58 degrees on Uranus, 50 degrees on Neptune … Neptune’s temperatures are similar to those of Uranus, which is more than a billion miles (1.6 billion km) closer to the Sun.”   Uranus and Neptune also have almost the same day-lengths: 16 hours for Uranus and 17  hours for Neptune.

Uranus’s other ancient name was JULU (“The Lying One”, which is fitting as it lies on its side having a horizontal instead of a basically vertical axis, the only planet which is as such in the Solar System). On the other hand, Neptune’s other ancient name was   KOKEN (“The Blue One”).

Collectively, the four giant planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune – were referred to as the Four GEIGHUL, meaning the Four “Shining Globes” (from kei, gei [shine bright] and gule [globe, sphere]).  It goes without saying folks that the ancients were aware of the composition of the Solar System as what we read in their records has been affirmed by modern astronomy.

SOLAR FAMILY IS COMPLETE

So far, we have eight planets in existence. Three were inner planets, the planets closest to the Sun. They were Mercury, Venus, and Mars in that order. The region of the Solar System in which they were located the ancients referred to as the “Below”, meaning below the Asteroid Belt, which at the time though was not yet in existence: remember, they were writing retrospectively.

The rest were the outer planets, the planets furtherest from the Sun. Since these would later be at and above the Asteroid Belt, their location was referred to by the ancients as the “Above”.  These planets were Tiamat, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in that order.  

Where is planet Earth then? Well, at the time, Earth was not yet in existence in the way we know it today. We shall explain in due course why and how.

How about little Pluto? Pluto has an unusual orbit for an ordinary planet. Its orbit is not circular like other planets but it is somewhat elongated and to the extent that sometimes it finds itself not beyond Neptune, where it ordinarily should be, but before Neptune. When Pluto was “discovered” in 1930, astronomers posited the view that in light of its peculiar characteristics, the planet must have begun as a moon of Neptune before it “graduated” to a planet in its own right.   

Well, the Sumerians had said exactly that 6000 years ago but with a slight difference. They documented that  initially, Pluto, which they called GAGA, was not an independent planet. It was a satellite, or moon, of the planet Saturn. In their sketches of the nascent Solar System,  Pluto in fact is  shown not near Neptune  but between Saturn and Uranus. In the Enuma Elish, Pluto is described as   “ANSHAR’s emissary and counsellor” and also has ANSHAR’s second-born after Uranus, which simply meant it came into existence after Uranus.  In the primordial days therefore, Neptune was the outermost planet.

All this took place 4.6 billion years ago.

NEXT WEEK:  A “GOD” FROM THE “DEEP”

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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