Institute of International Education Fellowship Award Winner, and runner up national poet to the 2016 Share Botswana Tourism Fiction Award, Teedzani Thapelo*, argues that by sheer force of numbers and the level of political commitment students, youths and workers will determine who wins elections in 2019. He cautions if their decision is going to do Botswana any good they must root for proper and most efficient guardians of the republic, and they must ignore what politicians say, go with what they see, what they experience and what they fear most. They must learn to judge and punish politicians, and in their struggle for national renewal they must take no prisoners.
The avid reader will immediately note the first part of the article is borrowed from two great classics; Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and The Wretched of the Earth by Martinique revolutionary prophet and dialectician, Frantz Fanon. The French connection is obvious, and the political symbolism no less important and the story might have ended there; for here I am writing about Botswana.
It occurred to me though after reading Hugo’s 1269 pages 2012 Canterbury Classics edition for the third time, alongside Fanon; my 1961 penguin edition is prefaced by French existential philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre. How appropriate. How fitting. The Botswana we live in today evokes powerful memories of all the characters, episodes, incidents and major themes that inform these works by Hugo, one of the finest French poets and novelists, Fanon, a medical doctor turned revolutionary, and Sartre, a Nobel Award winning dramatist, philosopher, and writer; he refused to accept the Nobel Prize on moral and political grounds. Such scholars are rare. They certainly don’t exist in Botswana.
But all apprehended our human condition with such fierce an intellectual grasp, with such frightening spiritual contemplation, one could be forgiven to think they already knew what would happen to us, what would happen to our country, what would happen to our lives, what would happen to our children, and what would happen to our future. Scholarship does not reach more universalism than this.
To say our lives are miserable is to state the obvious. So many Batswana just don’t bother to think about our condition, and declining circumstances. I have been following the growth of our political literature this past couple of months with great interest. Everybody knows what is happening to students in this country. Everybody knows what is happening to the youth in this country. Everybody knows what is happening to workers in this country.
All of us, excluding BDP of course, know these things very well. What surprises me is in our writings we seem to pay too much attention to the electoral fortunes of political parties, and we seem not to notice who really counts in the coming elections; voters. I am guilty of this omission myself, and I apologise. Look at things this way. The 35 000 students who wrote form five last year will be voting in 2019, and so the more than 40 000 who sat for form three exams.
All form five leavers for the past three years and next three years will vote in 2019, and so a considerable number of those who fall off at form three. Our unemployed youth number somewhere in hundreds of thousands. Government alone employs more than 140 000 workers, and thousands work in the private sector or for themselves. We are talking here altogether about almost 400 000, and perhaps more people, and BDP does not notice these people; it cares not for them, it scorns their expectations, undermines their efforts at mere survival, derides their complaints and concerns, ignores their pleas for help, despises their political opinions, laughs at their lamentations, impugns their sorrows, and censure their demands for justice, freedom and happiness; and all these people are going to vote come 2019.
In the last election only about 600 000 Batswana registered to vote and not all of them cast their vote. Of those who voted more than half the number went with the opposition. As I write official statistics indicate a fifth of our population, that is about 420 000 people, are roaming the streets looking for jobs, more are on temporary and insecure employment, and more than 30 000 college and university graduates join the unemployment lines every year; and our population stands at only 2000 000.
We know this excludes thousands of discouraged workers who are now alcohol and drug addicts, prisoners who are victims of this catastrophic social landscape, structurally unemployable Batswana who have been rejected by our small and inflexible labour market thanks to wayward economic policies and workers who though still willing to work are now so deskilled, illiterate even (most of these are young mothers who dropped out of school, single mothers, and housewives) they feel ashamed to even apply for any jobs and are quietly wasting away in the animal jungles of our towns and cities or waiting for death in bucolic villages and settlements, some of which BDP only recall when it wants their votes.
What is happening to Batswana is a sombre nightmare that would make even black hearts bleed. But at BDP they sleep easy in comfort and debauchery, laughing at us all. Yet these appalling statistics are actually a language, and they speak a lot. What does this tell us? What is the meaning of these numbers?
One obvious thing BDP has no mandate to rule this country. The numbers clearly show the opposition won in the last election but BDP stayed in office because our electoral system is rigged in favour of the political establishment. Second, and more significant for the coming elections, Batswana are obviously beginning to ask themselves serious questions about the direction things are taking in their country. Yes, there certainly is change in political temperament and temperature in this country.
People are worried about their lives, and livelihoods, about their declining fortunes, the absence of opportunities in life, the bleak, humdrum, and drudgery of everyday existence, the meaningless routine of monotonous life with its endless troubles, the boredom of BTV, the rude pretentiousness of BDP politicians; there really is nothing exciting about life in this country anymore. Every day that the sun rises in this country all human potential goes to waste. We really are no different from people who live in a war zone.
Under such conditions people ask themselves: who am I? What am I doing here? What is the meaning of my life? Where am I going? What will happen to me if things continue this way? What will happen to my life? What will happen to my children? What will happen to my country? Will I too end up without a life like so many unemployed people? Will I too end up without a country like so many refugees? Will I start aging at the age of twenty? Will I ever be truly free and independent? Will I ever own anything that is truly mine, earned through my own labour and intelligence? Do I count for anything in this life? Do I count for anything in this country?
Our poor and brutalized students, our unemployed youths who face shame and humiliation at every turn of life and our workers who earn, and live on peanuts, ask themselves such questions every day, and only one thing can bring a semblance of response to their agitated minds; the voting hour, the voting day. It is on this day that many people try to square their miserable fate and chose a better and more meaningful path into the future. In that hour, on that fateful day, Batswana must judge for themselves what needs to be done.
2019 gives every voter the right, and might, to make that most fundamental decision in their life: who is going to direct my future? Who is going to manage my public affairs? Who is going to be guardian of the fate and destiny of my nation, my republic, and fellow citizens? It is the most important day in our life, and in the coming election the decision made by our students, youths and workers is going to bind us all and redirect the fate and fortunes of all citizens.
But in making this decision, I do think, it is critical they consider in detail how much more risk they are prepared to take with their lives. How much more they are prepared to lose in terms of the great possibilities of life offered by modern society, possibilities and opportunities that fail to reach many because of bad politics, bad policies and indifferent officialdom.
Is our economy competing well? Do we possess accurate information about the state of the nation? Is the country prepared to deal with the risks and crisis of today? Are we investing enough in the education and health of the nation? Do Batswana have confidence in their economy? Do they have confidence in the BDP? Are we comfortable with the rising level of the national debt?
Do Batswana have good and secure jobs? Are the incomes of workers rising? Are we comfortable with our standards of living? Is enough being done to protect the environment and rural livelihoods? Is BDP promoting the best use of our natural resources? Is the use of our natural resources sustainable? What is the best way of building strong resilience in terms of managing the economy?
Does the BDP understand the facts, risks, and uncertainties of managing the economy in a rapidly globalising and fervently unpredictable world? Are BDP public policies informed by good choices? Are BDP policy instruments agile and adaptable enough to respond to the management of serious risks and crisis in modern society?
Are Batswana comfortable with BDP philosophy of fast-fail projects that put us top of the flops in policy sciences; BDC, BMC, Air Botswana, BCL, what next? Are these people really capable of making economics work in this country? Do they care about the welfare of Batswana? Do they care about the future of this country? Can Botswana ever be a safe, efficient and sustainable economy under the watch of BDP?
Can we ever develop effective speed for responding to fast-changing circumstances and learn to create opportunities from the crisis that befall us so frequently? Can we ever be a dynamic, entrepreneurial nation that creates good, secure jobs, with rising incomes? Can BDP ever manage to envision, enable and engage Batswana so they can fully participate in public life as moral citizens determined to recapture and redefine their future lives and the destiny of the nation? Does the country have a clear plan to match into the world of tomorrow confident, prosperous and secure in the knowledge we can even go further and surpass our own expectations?
Questions like these make people to sit up and think, and it really would be a good thing if Batswana could think this way before they cast their vote. Look at your country. Look at your own life. Look at the lives of your children, the lives of friends, family members and the state of your community. Consider your own future.
Consider the future of your country, the future Botswana that is going to be the home of your grandchildren and their own children, and ask yourself; is enough being done to protect all these people, to secure and protect the world of tomorrow? If the answer is no, then forget about BDP. Don’t vote on the basis of what politicians tell you, what they promise.
Worse, don’t even bother about what they claim to have done for you in the past; they got paid for that, and always remember you too do your bit in your own small way to build this country every day. Accomplishments of the past belong to us all. We all take credit for that. What is important is to look at missed opportunities, and ask yourself; but why? Why don’t we have six cities the size of Johannesburg that could be employing our children today as per the gigantic diamond wealth that disappeared into thin air?
The best way to think about the future is to look ahead, not to think about the past; the past belongs to another country, and it becomes foreign and irrelevant the older you get, and the more troubles you have to deal with just to cope. But remember crimes of the past can still ruin the future. So never forgive political actions that ruin the future of your country.
In short before you cast your vote you really have to give yourself time to think things out on your own. Writing this article right now, thinking the way I do, I too am still thinking about how I am going to vote in 2019. Voting is a terribly serious decision; just like thinking of getting married. Don’t rash things. Think hard and then vote in the knowledge you are really doing the right thing at the right time for yourself and your country.
Voting is key to social innovation. A radical transformation of political direction overnight in a small country like Botswana can have a strong bearing on how things are done in government. If we are to succeed in solving social and economic problems we must first understand that this is best done through social learning, and politics is a learning process. Politically active citizens always find solutions for the problems they face.
The best politics encourages mutual learning and a dialogue of trusting relationships between people. Social movements and loose coalitions in communities are always strong forces in the struggle for structural change. In America, for instance, political parties always encourage voters to recruit each other on voting day.
If you support a certain political party they always ask you to invite no less than ten friends and family members to accompany you to the polling station on voting day and make sure they vote the party that you support. If a school PTA committee, for example, is angry about the way educational issues are being handled at their local school they are encouraged to canvas and vote out the local council authorities. If the sheriff is incompetent an entire community can vote him out of office. Rooting for your party as a local activist is very important even if you are not running for office yourself.
People in government fear genuine grassroots politics because it is the most effective way of destroying corrupt and incompetent political administrations. Politicized public life requires a community that is active, that exercises some control over the conditions of its livelihood, and that can hold the state accountable. It is the best way of making a direct contribution towards the transformation of the structures of political governance. It is through such struggles that people engage in the social production of their lives.
It is not enough that people remain consumers at the end of a delivery process as it happens in Botswana every day. BDP is teaching Batswana very bad politics. In a true democracy power, politics and participation reside with the people in living and vibrant communities, communities with strong voices. In a true democracy people learn about themselves and about the material conditions of their lives through doing, through hard work and personal sacrifices. In a true democracy public policy is a process of public learning, a means of finding ways of improving the capacities and opportunities of people, a means of doing a better job of ameliorating the human condition.
It is time Batswana learned these things. It is time Batswana learnt the real value of politics. Politics is supposed to encourage and support people in solving their own problems, and not giving them food parcels and blankets. The job of a government is to make the laws of a country, make the economy work, grow, create jobs, expand the tax base and regulate all public conduct; working together with law courts, security personnel and communities and citizens.
A government that fails to do these things must immediately be kicked out of office. Voting day is a day of output judgements of political conduct. On voting day citizens sit the bench as judges over politicians. It is the day voters decide if rhetoric matches up with reality, a reality that they themselves understand well. It is a day of reckoning, a day of self-public assessment. It is not just a ritual. On voting day citizens directly measure the value of their participation in the political process by grading the quality of public policies, public servants, political parties and the political process itself through the casting of their vote.
Many questions are asked and answered by each voter on that day; has the economy been growing, do people have jobs, are workers and households making more money, do all people live well, are the lives of citizens safe, do children get good quality education, are hospitals doing well, is the use of the environment and natural resources done well, is there justice for all in society, are there thieves in government, is everybody paying taxes as they should, is the country’s money used well for the benefit of all in society, is the future of the country in safe hands?
In other words, has the policy process improved, solved problems or made things worse? Has the ruling party delivered on its mandate as governor and have they fulfilled their promises as custodians of public goods? If the answer is no, vote the party out of office. Replace them with another party. It is as simple as that. This is how things are done in every country. Why should we do things differently in Botswana? People must always remember they can only reward good political behaviour.
If politicians are nasty, arrogant, and stupid rascals use your vote to kick them out. If they steal, benefit only their friends and relatives, use your vote to kick them out. If they treat you like dirt vote them out. If they are too old to do things well kick them out. If they are out of touch with reality kick them out. There is no point in keeping a politician who is not civil and considerate in office. Such people will always sit on your rights and expectations. Always watch what a political party is doing and judge the things they do. This will always tell you a great deal about politicians and the way things are going in country. The one mistake we do is to forgive bad behaviour in politics. Never do that.
Everything that happens in politics is done wilfully and deliberately. Punish a political party for every bad thing it does. Discipline politicians the way you discipline naughty children. If they steal a penny from the treasury send them to jail and then vote their political party from office. Never allow them to explain bad behaviour. They will never tell you the truth, and they always laugh behind your back. Naughty children. Don’t forget that. Political parties have important impact on public policy. Voting a different party into office means you are choosing new values, beliefs, and expectations.
It means you are looking for a different way of solving problems, a different way of doing things, a different way of going into the future. Voting the same political party into office again is a different thing altogether. It means you remain stuck with the same politicians, the same policies, the same rhetoric, the same values, the same everything, and worse the same gravity of domestic and global risks and threats to the national economy and the environment.
There are always severe limitations on what such a party can do to change or improve anything in public life; the same commitments of the past, the same policies and attitudes, the same interests, the same sense of purpose. If they hate a particular person or community they will keep on hating and harassing those people, if they love foreigners and despise their own people they will continue favouring foreigners over Batswana, if they enjoy stealing public money they will continue doing the same thing and if they have no respect for the laws of the country and no respect for judges of the high court they will keep on doing as they like.
In short there is no incentive for a political party that has been returned to political office to change things around. People are always comfortable with things as they are if they live well. If you vote for BDP again, for example, don’t expect them to stop dinning with Indians, watching birds with white foreigners and dancing polka at Khawa village while BCL group of companies are crushing to the ground leaving close on 60 000 Batswana facing ruined livelihoods and ever greater threats of death from hunger and diseases like HIV/AIDs.
Political parties are terribly important to policy and outcomes. Batswana must understand the simple fact that in times of difficulties the need for movement is more than just important; it is critical. If you want things to start moving, if you thirst for change, vote for a different political party. A new political administration can have an impact on economic policy, it can remove a lot of constraints that act against economic growth, find better and different markets for local products, start working with all Batswana and not just a bunch of well entrenched foreigners, fight corruption in public life, direct public expenditure to the most deserving sectors of the economy, create better jobs, raise incomes and forge a new direction in national life and public expectations; giving every citizen new hope and ambition to succeed in life.
Never underestimate the number and quality of things a new political administration can do. As they say in policy sciences a new party in power stimulates a Moving Consensus in which the need for movement to deal with problems is as important as consensus. A new party in office also promotes a new re-assessment of democracy by citizens in the new faces in politics, and new entrants into office are usually more approachable to ordinary people, and more eager to help.
They also want change like you and they are more likely to work better with you to start doing things properly. They bring a breath of fresh air in public life. They are more likely to distribute resources in a more equitable way, especially in areas of public expenditure and more importantly only a new party can terminate unpopular public policies and introduce radically new development programmes.
As things stand right now BDP has no working policies at all. Their daily political behaviour is reactive; concerned only with getting out of difficulties and crisis, things which they do not even understand. Is it proper to govern a country in this way? Public policy cannot operate by escape seeking. It must be based on potential possibilities of success. So what is it going to be?
Students, youth and workers, the future of this greatly troubled country is in your hands. What direction must we take? What future must we envision and pursue? Who will be the leaders of Tomorrow? To answer these questions properly and sufficiently on voting day keep your eyes on all the things going on around you, the things happening in your life, the things happening to your life, and if you really do that well then this great nation has nothing to fear.
We shall survive. There will be another tomorrow, and in the brave new world our children will thrive and live well.
Novelist, poet and historian, Teedzani Thapelo*, is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science and the School of Oriental and Africa Studies, University of London. He is author of Seasons of Thunder, and the forthcoming books; Battle Against the Botswana Democratic Party: the beginning of the point of departure, Politics of Unfulfilled Expectations in Botswana: a dangerous mess, and Philosophy of Death and the Ruin of Selibe-Phikwe.
The Lord’s wife seeks refuge in a European“Wilderness”
In March 37 AD, General Atiku, Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar died after 23 years in office. He was succeeded by his nephew and adoptive heir Gaius Caligula.
Caligula had forged a fraternal bond with Herod Agrippa, a grandson of Herod the Great, whilst hitherto cash-strapped Agrippa worked at Emperor Tiberius’ court in some capacity. It was on the basis of this mutual affinity that Caligula installed Agrippa as King of the Middle East territories his uncle Phillip the Tetrarch, who passed on in AD 34, had ruled over.
In 39 AD, Agrippa’s regal tentacles spread even wider when he was given the Herod Antipas domains after he politically poisoned the latter to Caligula. Thus it was that Agrippa became Rome’s client King of the whole of Palestine minus Judea. Meanwhile, the tiny territory of Chalcis in Syria was given to Agrippa’s brother Herod, best known to history as Herod of Chalcis, on the pleadings of Agrippa.
It so happened, General, that during the rather short, six-year reign of Agrippa, four Jewish High Priests took turns in office, all appointed by he himself as per authority vested in him by the Emperor. One particular appointment, of a Boethusian High Priest at the expense of the incumbent Mathias Ben Ananus (the apostle Matthew), rankled with radical Jews.
Mathias was replaced in 43 AD, when he was scarcely one year in office. Given that the Boethusians held the Davidic dynasty in contempt, it goes without saying that the apostolate band were irate. In the event, Simon Peter and James the son of Zebedee with typical Zealot radicalismconveniently saw common cause with Simon Zelotes and set about plotting the assassination of Agrippa.
Somehow, General, the Herod establishment got wind of the plot and Herod of Chalcis had James executed and Simon Peter thrown into the slammer pending his own turn at the scaffold.Simon Zelotes and Theudas Barabbas were quick to hit back. First, Simon used his guile and connections to have Peter spirited out of prison, whereupon Peter sought refuge in Rome.
Simon Zelotes is the “Angel of the Lord” spoken of in the relevant passage (ACTS 12:7) asthat was his emeritus title as one of the Essene top brass. Second, Simon Zelotes had Agrippa assassinated by way of snake poison. Although Simon Zelotes got away with this intrigue, Barabbas, General, was not so lucky: as he made his getaway across the Jordan River and bogged down by age-related lethargy, he was seized and summarily executed by decapitation on the orders of Herod of Chalcis.
Simon Zelotes set up a new base in Cyprus, leaving his step-daughter Mary Magdalene in the lurch in Judea. What would be her fate, General, now that she was associated with a fugitive from justice?
SCHISMS IN THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT
The accession and rather untimely demise of King Agrippa, General Atiku,had quite significant ramifications on the nascent Christian movement. Of particular import was the relocation of the Qumran community to Damascus in Syria. Indeed, the Dead Sea Scrolls’ Damascus Document makes a point of highlighting “the New Covenant in the Land of Damascus”, which now the Essenes propagandised as the place where the awaited Jewish Messiah would appear and not in Jerusalem as the Old Testament prophets had foretold.
The change of scene, General, was spearheaded by James the Just, the immediate younger brother of Jesus and the incumbent leader of the Christian movement. It was necessitatedby the fear that the perpetually impecunious Agrippa (whilst he was alive, that is), who at some stage had been declared bankrupt, might eventually deplete the Qumran kitty (a portion of which the Herods were entitled to), of which James was the custodian following the ignominious death of Judas Iscariot.
James had also served notice that the Herods wouldhave no part to play in a sovereign Israel, that the conduct of its affairs would be the preserve solely of the Davidic dynasty, which he now headed. As if to underscore this apartness,James even went on to reprise the Star &Sceptre political tag team with Theudas Barabbas (before his assassination), which harked back to a similar partnership of yesteryears between his father Joseph and the same Barabbas, who was still revered as the iconic Zealot revolutionary.
The likes of Simon Peter (who had returned from Rome a free man since his alleged crime had lapsed with the death of King Agrippa as was the practice those days),however, set up their base at Antioch in Syria, which suggests that there was a bit of dissonance between James and Peter at the time. Peter was reinforced by Paul and the latter’s personal doctor Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. The Peter faction was also anti-Herod but in its formative stage it touted Peter as the successor to Jesus at the expense ofJames.
In sum, General, there was a three-way split in the Christian movement after Jesus went into obscurity. This was the James party at Damascus, the Peter party at Antioch, and the Simon Zelotes party in Cyprus. It was the Peter party that with the benefit of hindsight stole the thunder in that it was at Antioch that members of The Way began to call themselves Christians. This was in AD 44.
MARY MAGDALENE IN FRANCE
Meanwhile, General Atiku, Mary Magdalene was in a very precarious position. At the time, she was already pregnant with Jesus’ third child, having conceived in December AD 43.It is not clear though whether she too had incurred the wrath of the Herods in view of what her step- father Simon Zelotes had done to King Agrippa, but taking precautions, she sought the protectionof Agrippa’s eldest son, Agrippa II. Agrippa II was only 17 years at the time and was based in Rome under the auspices of Claudius, who had become Roman Emperor in AD 41.
A former student of the Apostle Paul, Agrippa II was well disposed toward the Jesus family and so he readily acquiesced to Mary’s entreaty, whereupon he arranged for her safe passage to the famed Herodian estate in Gaul, France, in collaboration with his other brother Aristobulus. It was in Gaul that the brothers Herod Archelaus and Herod Antipas had by turns been banished by the Roman Emperor after their ouster in AD 6 and 39 respectively .
Mary Magdalene, General,was not all alone on the ship that conducted her to France. She was accompanied by her step-father Simon Zelotes; her mother Helena-Salome; the apostle Philip; the three sisters of Jesus; the wife of James the Just; and Trophimus, who is mentioned in ACTS 20:4; ACTS 21:29; and 2 TIMOTHY 4:20. In his book The Life of Mary Magdalene, Archbishop Rabanus Maurus partly documents the voyage thus: “And favoured by an easterly wind they travelled on across the Sea between Europe and Africa, leaving the city of Rome and all the land of Italy to the right. Then, happily changing course to the right, they came to the city of Marseilles in the Gaulish province of Vienne.” Upon arrival in France, Mary Magdalene had the privillege of being welcomed by the Queen of Marseilles. Once in
France, Simon Zelotes, whobecame known there as Lazarus the Great One, wasted no time in setting up a mission in Provence in south eastern France.
MARY MAGDALENE Vs ROME
Unbeknownst to much of Christendom, including the Christian clergy itself, General, the fate of Mary Magdalene is cryptically documented in the Book of Revelation! It is unfortunate that Revelation is placed last in the New Testament corpus when by rights it should have come immediatelyafter the Book of Acts and not after the21 epistles in between since it is actually a continuation of the Jesus story. Although it is called the Revelation of Saint John, that is a misnomer.
It is a revelation by Jesus Christ himself, who we now know was very much in existence and in circulation more than fifty years after his sham crucifixion. That is exactly what REVELATION 1:1 states,although Christians have naively taken this to be no more thanfigurative language. It was Jesus in his physical, blood-and-fleshform who related much of the contents of Revelation to the apostle John, the literal author of the book. Jesus dictated the account; Johnsimply was the scribe.
The relegation of Revelation (literally “The Unveiling”, the true meaning of the Greek world apocalypse from which the term “Revelation” is translated) to the very extremity of the biblical canon, General,was contrived by Roman Emperor Constantine as the teachings of the Roman Church were founded, primarily, on the writings of Simon Peter and the apostle Paul. Says authoritative historian Laurence Gardner in his book The Magdalene Legacy:The Jesus and Mary Bloodline Conspiracy: “At first glance it appears baffling that The Revelation was included in the New Testament at all, since it follows the post-Resurrection lives of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and their offspring through a balance of the 1st century.
However, the inclusion of The Revelation proved to be a remarkable strategy in that its very esoteric nature enabled Rome to turn it to considerable advantage by misrepresenting its text from the pulpits; this, of course, was at a time when the general populace did not have Bibles to read for themselves.” Gardner goes on to say, “The Church has done its best to put people off this book ever since by portraying it as a sinister work of foreboding and doom. By way of propaganda from the 1662 Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, even the very word apocalypse has become emblematic of disaster.”
REVELATION CHAPTER 12, General, is particularly pertinent with regard to the saga of Mary Magdalene. It talks about a pregnant woman“clothedwith the sun” and with a “wreath of 12 stars on her head” (Verses 1 and 2).This woman is being pursued and tormented by a “great fiery-red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads seven diadems” (Verse 3). The dragon’s aim is to “devour her child when it is born” (Verse 4). The woman “fled into the wilderness, there where she has a place made readyby God” (Verse 6).
Despite her trials and tribulations, the woman at long last “brought forth a son, a male, who is about to be shepherding all the nations with an iron club. And her child is snatched away to God and to His throne” (Verse 5). The dragon, though, will never relent: itis “angry with the woman, and came away to do battle with the rest of her seed, who are keeping the precepts of God and who have the testimony of Jesus” (Verse 17).
As wehave reiterated time and again,General, much of the New Testament was writtenin a coded language with a view to keeping the Romans in the dark. Thus in the Book of Revelation, Mary Magdalene is simply referred to as “the woman” and Rome as “the dragon” or “the serpent”.History documents that the Romans did display a reddish dragon on their imperial banner.Moreover, Rome itself was known as the City of the Seven Kings in that this was the total number of Roman emperors before the empire became a Republic in 509 BC.
The woman is of royal pedigree because she is “clothed with the sun”,anage-old symbol of both royalty and divinity. The 12 stars on her head obviously refers to the 12 tribes of Israel, for whom she was the de facto queen being the wife of Jesus,the Davidic King, and the wreath on her head denotes the fact of the nation of Israel’s enduringsubjugation to the Roman yoke.The “wilderness” in this context is France, where Mary Magdalene as related above sought refuge with the assistance of Agrippa II.
The pursued woman did give birth to a male child, which Mary Magdalene did as we shall relate in the next instalment. As a youngster, the child himself met no harm, but his relations, the broader Jesus family and their scions,who became known as the Desposyni or the Sangreal, were continuously harassedby Roman emperors, with some of them put to death, a detail we shall go into at the appropriate stage.
Curiously, General, the Revelation passage indicates that the woman was transported to safety on “two wings of a large vulture”. This suggests an aircraft, and a hideous, military-type for that matter, and not a ship as official history documents. This is not exactly far-fetched considering that the Anunnaki, who flew in aerial vehicles, have been ruling Earth from behind the scenes despite their official departure in the 6thcentury BC. If Mary Magdalene had been earmarked as the progenitor of the planet’s blue blood, which she indeed was, then the Anunnaki had cause to ferry her to France in an aeroplane to make doubly sure she got to France inone piece. It may explain, General, why upon her arrival in France she was welcomed by no less a figure than the Queen of Marseilles herself.
When I was growing up dinosaurs didn’t exist.I don’t mean I’m so old I pre-date the days of the prehistoric beast, simply that in those days, nobody bar a few nerdy scientists, gave them much of a second thought.
But in 1993 all that changed.Movie buffs amongst you will immediately recognise that year as the release year of the original Spielberg Jurassic Park movie.That’s not to say there hadn’t been films portraying these ancient beasts before – several had come and gone, seemingly without a trace, the oldest being from 1933 and filmed in black and white.But what set Jurassic Park apart, aside from the impressive special effects and the sprinkling of magic Spielberg dust, was the relatively recent discovery of DNA and its genetic significance.
The scriptwriters exploited this concept with the quasi-credible discovery of a living lizard species, derived from dinosaur DNA, captured from an ancient mosquito, and preserved for millennia in a chunk of amber.From there several other species are cloned and kept on an island which acts as a dinosaur game reserve, now open to the public.But that wouldn’t have made much of a story, so of course some of the more dangerous dinosaurs had to escape and cause mayhem and murder in the modern world.
The film grossed over a billion dollars and won 3 Oscars for sound and visual effects.And more importantly it generated so much interest in dinosaurs that the study of palaeontology experienced a record increase in applications.
So that’s where all the dinosaur hype and fascination started and since then it has spawned more movies from the same franchise, animated series such as Ice Age, andled to a global fascination with finding out more about these beasts of the past.
But only recently something quite fascinating emerged concerning these creatures, and that is that they began life as much smaller creatures and it was a major climate event on earth which led to their monster growth.This finding is the result of a study between scientists from the UK’s Birmingham university in conjunction with their Chinese counterparts at the China Institute of Mining & Technology. Their joint team of researchers recently presented compelling evidence that massive volcanic events probably helped the dinosaurs diversify and thrive, reaching their monumental sizes.
Their results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and explain that the Triassic Period, which began roughly 250 million years ago, was a time of massive ecological change after the largest mass extinction event on record.Earlier dinosaurs had been skinnier, more reptilian, less of the massive, marauding Spielberg monsters but it was during this time period that dinosaurs diversified until they became wondrous beasts such as T. Rex and Triceratops, dominating ecosystems all over earth.
Scientists looked at a phase spanning 2 million years during the Triassic Period known as the Carnian Pluvial Episode or CPE, ‘pluvial’ deriving from the Latin word for rain, meaning it was a period of warm, moist, cloudy meteorological activity . During that episode, from 234 million to 232 million years ago there was a huge increase in global temperature, humidity and rainfall — a climate often referred to as a “mega-monsoon.”
Researchers analysed sediment and plant fossil evidence from a lake in Northern China and were able to match four intense phases of volcanic activity with the changes of the Carnian Pluvial Episode.The study links the timing of the episode with four distinct peaks in mercury levels, a well-established indicator of volcanic activity,which led to changes in the vegetation.
“We’re often able to link volcanism to global warming, but our study is unusual in that we’ve also linked it to periods of intense rainfall,” said Jason Hilton, a paleobotanist at the University of Birmingham in England and co-author of the study. “With each pulse of volcanism, we see an increase in plants adapted to wet and aquatic… settings.” Jing Lu, a researcher at the China University of Mining and Technology and also a co-author of the study, added that these eruptions “were powerful enough to drive evolutionary processes during the Triassic. During the episode, plant species that couldn’t adapt to the more humid environment went extinct, as did a number of animal species, from large reptilian herbivores on land to small gastropods in the water. “These changes freed up ecological space for other groups of organisms such as dinosaurs, to thrive”
But every dog, and every dinosaur, has their day and the dinosaurs also faded away, most likely due to a massive meteor strike on the surface of the earth in what is now modern-day Florida, which set up a massive tsunami and eventually resulted in a global Ice Age, temperatures too cold for dinosaurs to survive.
If there’s a moral to all this paleo-historical research it is that earth’s climate is governed by many factors, one of which may indeed by petrol fumes in the atmosphere but many of which are completely beyond our control.Another massive meteor strike may occur next week or it may not. We could see a sudden surge in volcanic activity again or we might not.But most of all the lesson is that talk of what is good or otherwise for the planet is based on a false premise.Whatever happens on the surface of the earth, it keeps on spinning round and round the sun every 365 ¼ daysas it has done since the Big Bang and there isno reason to suppose it will cease to do so, even if it were to transform into a an arid desert in its entirety.That is the embodiment of perpetual motion, a force which man has yet to master.
No, what people really mean is ‘good for trying to keep the planet just the way we like it’ which is rather different and may be a complete impossibility.Indeed mankind, like the dinosaur, may become extinct at some point in the future as part of the natural way of the world.
Jesus is admitted into the “Kingdom of Heaven”, which was a metaphor for the Essene priesthood
At Qumran, General Atiku, there were a number of caves on the cliffside (Qumran overlooked the Dead Sea), located not very far from the site where the crucifixion had taken place. Two of these caves were particularly important. One was Cave 4. Cave 4 was called Abraham’s Bosom. It was the burial cave for the Davidic King and the Pope, the Father of the Essene community. Across the chasm from Cave 4 was Cave 8. This was the burial cave of the Davidic Crown Prince. It was also known as Paradise.
Putting politics aside, the rightful Davidic King was Jesus and the Crown Prince was his immediate young brother James. Thus Cave 8 was owned and taken care of by James. The Dead Sea Scrolls confirm this. One text thereof, called the Copper Scroll, says ‘there was a tomb of the son of the third Great One”. In the Essene hierarchy, the third-ranking person was the Davidic Messiah, Jesus. But Cave 8 would not have belonged to his son in that he had no heirs yet. As such, it belonged to James, who was next in line till Jesus produced a heir. Also in Pesher, the term “son of” meant “next in line” or “deputy”.
Cave 8 had another purpose – a storage of money that was in the custody of James. This was Essene initiation fees paid by Gentiles. It was entrusted to the care of the more cosmopolitan Davidic princes, who directly received the money because coming from Gentiles it was regarded as unclean money. Because James was in charge of these funds, he was cynically referred to as “The Rich Man”. This explains why Joseph of Arimathea (James) is characterised in the gospels as a rich man.
Cave 8 and Cave 7 were adjoined. The two caves had one entrance through the side of the roof, with steps leading from the entrance down to the floor of the cave. The entrance was covered with a huge stone that only people on the outside could roll away. The remains of the two joined caves can be seen even today in the ruins of Qumran. When Jesus was brought down from the crucifixion tree by James, he was laid in Cave 8 in keeping with his Davidic status. Judas and Simon Zelotes were laid in Cave 7. Note, General, that had he actually died, Jesus would have been placed in Cave 4.
Since this was the eve of the Sabbath, guards were posted around the caves to see to it that when the Sabbath took effect at midnight, Sabbath rules were not infringed upon in any way, shape or form. Ananus, the youngest son of former Jerusalem Temple High Priest Annas, was one of those who stood guard. In particular, he wanted to ensure that none of the three men in the tomb was removed during the Sabbath. He was to alternate with Theudas Barabbas, who had been strategically posted there as shall become clear shortly.
THE DEATH OF JUDAS
At midnight, when Ananus took leave of his vigil and Theudas Barabbas replaced him, the latter stole into the cave (of course he had help to remove the huge stone cover). In the Passion story, Barabbas is disguised under the name Nicodemus (meaning “Conquering One,” exactly as Barabbas was hyped in his capacity as a leading Zealot revolutionary). The gospel of John says Nicodemus brought with him myrrh and aloes. From the nature and workings of these herbs, General, it is easy to tell what exactly transpired in Cave 8.
Myrrh is used as a sedative (a drug that calms a patient, easing agitation and permitting sleep). This of course was used on Simon Zelotes, who along with Judas had been brought down from the crucifixion trees fully conscious. Both had received substantial scourging from the Roman soldiers and were therefore in acute pain. They badly needed some sleep as a form of provisional escape from the pain.
Aloes are a strong and fast-acting purgative (a substance used to induce rapid bowel movements so that the bowels are quickly emptied). No doubt these were used on Jesus to expel the poison that he had been fed as he hung on the tree. This was a task to which Theudas Barabbas as head of the Theraputae was best suited. The Theraputae specialised in knowledge of medicines and poisons, including snake poison. In fact, one of their assassination “weapons” was snake poison. In 44 AD, for instance, Herod Agrippa I was murdered by the Zealots with snake poison. In his second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, Luke ascribes Agrippa’s death to having been “eaten with worms”. The term worms was a metaphor for snakes and snakes was a metaphor for the Theraputae top brass.
Now, the emplacement of Jesus, Judas, and Simon Zealotes in the cave, General, was not only about hoodwinking Pilate. It was primarily about fulfilling a ritual. This was excommunication of the three from the Essene fold. However, the excommunication of Jesus and Simon in particular did not have the blessings of Herod Antipas, who was very close to Simon and held Jesus in high esteem, who he recognised as the bona fide Davidic King.
So Antipas had schemed with Simon Zelotes that while in the cave, he should reclaim the status ofPope, currently held by Nathaniel, and invoke papal powers to reinstate both and Jesus and he himself. This had to be done within three days of the crucifixion as beyond that excommunication would be irrevocable. This explains, General, why there were such frantic efforts to medically attend to the men in the cave.
The herbs and therapeautic methods employed by Barabbas worked like a charm and the following day Simon and Jesus felt much better. Accordingly, Simon Zelotes wasted no time in reclaiming the papacy and exercised it by lifting the excommunication ofJesus and he himself. This gesture was communicated to the Jewish establishment by Barabbas. Sadly, Judas Iscariot, General, received the short end of the stick.
He never benefitted from the medical attention Jesus and Simon received. Simon denounced him as a traitor for betraying his colleagues. The adjoining cave – Cave 7 – had a ventilational window. Judas, who had been weakened by scourging, was thrown out the window. Hurtling headlong down the cliff, he landed on some jagged rocks and with his stomach punctured his bowels spilt out. His death is recorded partly accurately by Luke in ACTS 1:18.
SIMON FORMS OPPOSITION PARTY
Early on the morning of the first Sunday after the Passover Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, pregnant with Jesus’ first child, pitched up at Cave 7. She could have come on Saturday but movements of a certain radius were forbidden on Sabbath Day. Mary as the wife of Jesus was anxious as to his condition: she wanted to ensure that he indeed was safe, that he had indeed survived the crucifixion ruse.
The gospels say she encountered two angels. Of one such angel, MATTHEW 28:3 says: “His countenance was like lightning and his raiment white as snow.” This, General,is either cryptic language or simply a distortion on the part of the translators. We already know by now that Simon Zelotes was nicknamed “Lightning”. We also have seen that he had at this juncture challenged Nathaniel for the status of Essene high priest, that is, that ofthe Archangel Michael, and so had garbed himself in priestly attire with a view to reinstating to the Essene fold both Jesus and he. Thus, the correct translation should read, “His countenance was like that of Simon Zelotes in his priestly vestments”.
MATTHEW 28:2 reads, “There was a great earthquake and an angel appeared”. Ancient records do not mention a single earthquake in Palestine in the first century. Once again, General, this was pure allegorical language. Earthquake was another of the nicknames of Theudas Barabbas. He was an angel because Simon Zelotes had designated him his No. 2 in the Essene hierarchy, that is, the Angel Gabriel. Thus, the two angels Mary saw were Simon Zelotes and Theudas Barabbas.
Mary also saw another man who at first she mistook for a gardener. Garden was another name for Cave 8. It was likened to the Garden of Eden, or Paradise – another of its nicknames – because the person in its charge, James the brother of Jesus, became the second Adam when he challenged Jesus for the status of the Davidic King. James was thus the gardener Mary thought she had seen. But it wasn’t James: it was Jesus. Apparently, Jesus and James looked very much alike.
Realising that it was Jesus and not James, Mary was overcome with emotion and fervidly reached out to hug him but Jesus kept her at bay. Why, General? Because according to Essene dynastic protocols, she was not, as a pregnant spouse, allowed physical contact with her husband for at least three years.
All in all, General, the three men at Cave 8 had, with the blessings ofHerod Antipas, declared themselves as the heads of the new Essene shadow council of the 12 in opposition to the official one led by Nathaniel pending official elections. Simon Zelotes was the shadow Michael; Barabbas the shadow Gabriel; and Jesus the shadow Sariel. But it would take six more months before they became formally so.
JESUS FINALLY IS PRIEST-KING
Although the so-called crucifixion took place in the relative quiet and seclusion of Qumran, General, it was not meant to be kept under wraps for long. Pontius Pilate wanted to demonstrate to his subjects that the key people in the AD 32 uprising had been dealt with decisively. The crucifixion though was publicly announced after the Passover celebrations were done with. This was tactical on the part of Pilate: he did not wish to foolishly provoke another uprising at a time when Jerusalem was teeming with the highly radical Galilean pilgrims.
By the time the crucifixion became common knowledge, however, General, Jesus was sufficiently fit to make appearances to people who were close to him – his family members and his so-called disciples. He would later appear to a gathering of over 500 at Qumran, most of whom were Diaspora Essenes. To those who did not know about the crucifixion ruse, he had conquered death.
He was therefore hailed as a veritable Messiah. Voices now clamoured to make him Priest-King – the Melchizedek, the very status that he had laid claim to and that had put him at odds with the Jerusalem establishment. Jesus was careful though in his post-crucifixion appearances: he tactfully picked his audience and cautiously timed his showings. He didn’t wish Pilate to get wind of the fact that the crucifixion was a hoax. In fact, very few Jews were aware he had survived the crucifixion.
Meanwhile, General, Simon Zelotes decided to make political capital out of what had transpired. In his campaign for the papacy, he boasted that it was he who was responsible for “the miracle in the tomb”. Hence, his marks of respect too grew exponentially. From that point on, he became known as “Simon Magus”, that is, Simon the magician. With his popularity reaching such dizzying heights, he was in September 33 AD elected as Pope, thus replacing Nathaniel.
With his accession to the papacy, he decided to heed the wishes of the people and have Jesus installed as the Melchizedek. This event is what has come to be known as the Ascension although it has been wrongly interpreted as a physical entry into Heaven, the abode of God. It is captured by Luke in ACTS 1:9, which reads, “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight”.
The incident, General, is nothing more than the admission of Jesus into the priesthood as Priest-King of Israel. The “Kingdom of Heaven” was the inner sanctum of the Essene priesthood. Jesus was conveyed into this inner sanctum by his brother James, who now unequivocally recognised him as such, and ordained by Simon Zelotes and Theudas Barabbas (the “two men who stood by in white apparel” as per ACTS 1:10–11). It was the Exodus imagery at play here General. “Cloud” was another title of James.
It was a cloud that had led the ancient Israelites into the Promised Land (EXODUS 13:21-22) and the appearance of God on Mount Sinai had been accompanied not just by thunder and lightning but by a cloud as well (EXODUS 19:6). Thus, the terms “Thunder” (Nathaniel); “Lightning” (Simon Zelotes); “Earthquake” (Theudas Barabbas); and “Cloud” (James) were retained as symbolic designations in the Essene community.
If Jesus didn’t die in AD 33, what was his life like in subsequent years and when did he actually die? Thanks to the Pesher device, this we can partly glean from the book ofActs, the Pauline epistles, and the book ofRevelation.
NEXT WEEK: THE LORD SETS ABOUT PERPETUATING THE JESUS STOCK!