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Can Phikwe be redeemed?

David Magang           

View From Mana House   

Finally, the gavel has sounded.  Barring a miracle of the scale of Moses parting the Red Sea to enable the nation of Israel hassle-free passage  en route to the Promised Land,  the little twin town of Selibe Phikwe, or simply Phikwe in short,  is headed the way of a ghost town. Following months of tactless equivocation, the powers-that-be have at long last hit the nail squarely on the head. They simply no longer have the wherewithal, let alone the stomach, to keep pumping unrequited billions into a starkly moribund mine, never mind that in truth, it still has at least seven years of life left in it according to some “leaked document”.  It is not their fault, they seem to suggest: it is nature’s law of diminishing returns and the matter-of-fact fate of the wasting asset that minerals inherently are.

Well, we all knew that some day or other, BCL would give up the ghost, excuse the pun: the writing has always been on the wall though Government did nothing of substance to forestall the apocalypse. What caught us unawares is the manner in which the mine has bitten the dust – by way of assisted suicide, or euthanasia in medical jargon. Government gives us to understand that it has switched off the mine’s artificial breathing apparatus not so much to prematurely terminate its life as to extricate it from its own misery, which misery was draining the coffers of Government, or, shall we say, the Government blood bank. Whilst indications are that a circulatory specialist would have staunched the bleeding at least for one more year, when the patient was expected to be on the mend,  Government simply no longer had the patience for medical magic of any shape or form, particularly when some  fuming dude from down south was  breathing down on it with bad intentions for a breach of contract of some sort.

As “Doctor” Nigel Dixon-Warren of KPMG hankers down to carry out a definitive post-mortem – who knows, he could find a way of reversing the rigor mortis and breath back life into the mine like Jesus called forth a clinically dead Lazarus out of the tomb – the media, the opposition, and a whole host of arm-chair critics are having a field day. Recriminations are   flying thick and fast, with the naming and shaming game already at fever pitch. 

Taking much of the flak are a former mines minister who let go of a very able GM and only listlessly kept tabs on the mine’s modus vivendi; a feckless former board chairman who  brought on board a profligate new GM before he jumped ship in the very moment the vessel hit an ice berg; an intransigent expatriate CEO of a newly-formed mining parastatal who was at perpetual loggerheads with the redeployed mines minister; and Government itself for being just plain sloppy in the greater scheme of things, such as, for example, entrusting a critically important institution such as SPEDU to    

recycled veteran  civil servants who are past their sell-by date and have no experience in running a business undertaking.

Who deserves to be particularly rapped hard on the knuckles?


Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopaedia, defines a ghost town as “an abandoned village, town, or city, usually one that contains substantial visible remains”. A town regresses into a ghost town mainly when “the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, or nuclear disasters”. 

If Selibe Phikwe is to wilt into ghost town status, it will be because of government inaction – its neglecting to hasten to diversify the economy of the town when desperate necessity demanded so.   As far as I’m concerned therefore, responsibility for the now precarious situation of Phikwe lies squarely on the government enclave in Gaborone. Grand opportunities to reinvigorate the town were lost in BUIST which should have been built there, SPEDU which should have been speeded up, ESP which should have been devoted to the town first and foremost,  to mention only a few.

Can Phikwe be redeemed in the wake of the BCL implosion?  It is possible of course but it could be up to scores of years before such a revival and the vitality of yesteryears is attained.  Two examples come to mind in this regard. Walhalla in Australia became a spectral town when gold mining came to an end in 1914 but its accessibility and proximity to tourist attractions, coupled with political will and initiative on the part of the Australian authorities, has occasioned a turnaround in its economic fortunes. Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, first flourished, then waned in the Middle Ages.  In the 19th century, it again rebounded. From a population of only 5000 in 1806, it is now a bustling city of 4 million.

The fact of the matter though is that not every ghost town fully revitalises in the fullness of time along the lines of Alexandria and Walhala. Dallol in Ethiopia was a potash, sylvite and salt mining community. Since it was abandoned in the late 1960s, it has never stirred at all. Kolmanskop in Namibia,  founded in 1908,  in the middle of the Namibian diamond fever, was slowly deserted right after the First World War, when diamond sales plummeted. It remains in total dereliction. Bodie in California was a thriving gold mine with more than 2000 imposing buildings. When gold deposits petered out in the late 1880s, the exodus was almost instantaneous. In 1905, it had 1965 inhabitants. Today, it has less than 40, which does not even qualify as a skeleton population.  All these ghost towns stand as eerie monuments to glittering bygone eras. 

All told, we should not completely despond over Phikwe. There is life after life only it could take several life times to dawn. Phikwe still has potentially bankable minerals in its crust that await exploitation and the EU has the multi-million euro Sismin Funding Programme we could tap into to help revitalise BCL if the Dixon-Warren autopsy pronounces for a new lease of life. There is also the amelioration of  the commodity price crunch projected to set in post 2017 to count upon.

For Phikwe to somehow reinvent itself in the nick of time, say as a marquee tourist attraction, there has to be something for people to travel all the way from the West or the Orient to see. Phikwe does have a bit of game all right, but not the seamless, paradisiacal   variety that teems in  the Moremi Game Reserve or Chobe National Park. Nor does it have the equivalent of the Okavango Delta or the Makgadikgadi Pans. At best, it could be no more than a B-List tourist destination. 

Of course BCL would bequeath to the town a 2 kilometre deep underground mine  but tourists who take a ten-hour flight to go and savour the blood-curdling depths of an ancient sub-surface mine can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Cullinan Mines in neighbouring South Africa has such a facility and indeed receives only a handful of tourists per year, almost all of whom from within the country. 

Maybe Phikwe will prove to have the nine lives of a cat and like a sphinx rise from the ashes to which Government now has combusted it. Jesus was greater after Calvary than before Calvary. But exactly what abracadabra must be uttered to turn Phikwe into an Aladdin’s cave and in reasonable time for that matter?


When I was Assistant Minister of Finance & Development Planning in 1990, I broached the idea of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) to Government. My boss at the time, Festus Mogae, and other Cabinet ministers pooh-pooed the notion, the core of their argument being  that the incentives obtaining under FAP (Financial Assistance Policy) very much mirrored what a SEZ setup would require.  Although I wasn’t convinced, I meekly yielded.

In 2005, the Business Economic and Advisory Council pitched the same idea to Government. This time around, Government embraced the proposition. But as is typical of the glacially slow pace at which things move in our country, the SEZ Policy was finalised only 5 years later, in 2010. Over ten years since SEZs were mooted, we still haven’t moved an inch in kick-starting the process. Had we moved at the speed of a gazelle as our state of desperation demanded in light of Phikwe’s plight and set about establishing SEZs right in 2005, the national heartache we now harbour over Phikwe would not be this acute.  SEZs have the potential to dramatically resurrect Phikwe and make it the catalyst overall of the economic resurgence of the country in the manner Shenzhen sparked a countrywide economic renaissance in China.

In one of my recent articles (Wanted: Benevolent Dictator, September 17th), I made mention of the great Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the fairy-tale economic prosperity China enjoys today. It was Deng who seized on the idea of SEZs and ran with it at full throttle. In July 1979, Deng designated Shenzhen as an SEZ, along with three other locations. At the time, China was teetering on the brink of economic collapse, as Botswana soon could if budget deficits persist and perpetuate. Shenzhen was an impoverished and therefore unimportant rural backwater tucked away along China’s south coast. It was not a ghost town because it never soared and then came a cropper economically: it was a soporific town, with a population of only 30,000 whose livelihood almost wholly derived from fishing. The daily income for a peasant was a pathetic 1 Yuan, when just across the border in Hong Kong (then under British rule) a peasant earned 60 times as much.  

Today, Shenzhen is a dynamic metropolis with a population of 15 million people thanks to the advent of SEZs. In 2013, Shenzhen’s GDP was $237 billion (larger than that of Ireland), about 2000 times what it was in 1979. At $22,000, its GDP per capita in that same year rivalled that of some of the OECD’s full-fledged countries. In the 1990s, Shenzhen was characterised as constructing “one high-rise a day and one boulevard every three days”. In 2014, a US real estate developer paid a record $2.21 billion for a site in Shenzhen, underscoring how highly prized the city had now become on the international property market. 


Maybe you haven’t heard this, but Egypt is constructing a new capital city to replace an over-crowded, jam-packed Cairo and where stratospheric property prices and rentals have occasioned a tellingly high cost of living.  The city will be built from scratch and right in the centre of the Sahara Desert. Guess who’s funding it? It is China, to the tune of $45 billion.

Now,  whereas practically every country on the continent of Africa is paying court, with cap in hand,  to the mighty Red Dragon, our relations with China remain fraught such is our intoxication with diamond rents, which in any case are dwindling faster than the October sun melts wax.  If the Government enclave is not well apprised as to how powerful and globally indispensable China is presently and potentially, I can help with a few titbits.

Just this week, China supplanted the US as the world’s largest economy, a status the US held for 142 years after it overtook Britain in the same capacity in 1872. The US, the so-called locomotive engine of the global economy, has in fact effectively been an economic colony of China for some time now. As of June 2016, the US owed China $1.24 trillion. The US pays China $100 million a day in interest only on this gigantic debt. As part of the consideration arising from the debt – which the US will in all probability never be able to settle – the Chinese government is pushing for the creation of “development zones” on US territory where Chinese-owned business will be established with an overwhelmingly Chinese workforce. When that happens, a sizeable portion of the $1.24 trillion debt will be converted from debt to equity. In the event, “China would own US business, US infrastructure, and US high-value land, all with a US government guarantee against loss” as one America economist chillingly put it.    

Meanwhile, China is busy buying up swathes of land on the continent of Africa to possibly convert to SEZs thanks to a staggering $3.2 trillion in reserves. In 2014, it offered to finance 30 percent of India’s targeted infrastructural investments as per the latter’s 12th National Development Plan spanning the years 2012 to 2017. China, folks, is on an investment binge unprecedented in history and this is the country our government keep thumbing its nose at!


At the 2006 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in Beijing, Botswana was conspicuous by its absence. We were not invited reportedly because of the contemptuous manner with which we treat Chinese interests in our country. The aftermath of the Beijing summit was the initiation of 7 Chinese-run SEZ projects in Africa – one each in Mauritius, Egypt, and Ethiopia and two each in Nigeria and Zambia.  According to the Zambian China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, a total of 27 copper and copper-related enterprises were already operating in Zambia’s Chambishi Multi-Facility Economic Zone by 2014 and approximately 8000 jobs had already arisen.

Phikwe is one of the two locations slated to pilot the Botswana SEZ thrust. If we are to make a success of this, we will need Chinese FDI – just as China needed Japanese and Hong Kong FDI to kick-start the Shenzhen SEZ – and Chinese technical knowhow. Dubai offers a most invaluable cue in this regard. Its people used to spend millions of dollars per year to stock up with merchandise from China. That was a lot of money leaving the country. To stem this haemorrhage, Dubai set up SEZs with mouth-wateringly attractive incentives and invited Chinese companies to establish their businesses in there. Today, there are more than 170 Chinese companies operating in the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the flagship SEZ of Dubai and the foremost in the entire Middle East. Since 2007, over 160,000 jobs, about twice to thrice the population of Phikwe, have been generated in the Chinese-dominated JAFZA.

 Needless to say, Botswana will need not only the instrumentality of Chinese investment in the Phikwe SEZ if the ailing town has to spectacularly spring back to life but the goodwill of Beijing as well. So let us desist from treating the Chinese as “infestors” and render them the deference virtually every other nation on Earth is according them.


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A “Virgin” Conceives

2nd March 2021

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.


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.


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?


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.


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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

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.


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.


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 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.


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