Noting that Utu-Shamash was not returning as per schedule from a meeting with Mot, Inanna-Ishtar was perturbed. Scrambling into a flying saucer, she decided to follow after him just in case he had met with grave misfortune.
Arriving at Mot’s courts, she asked for her brother. The response she got from Mot was at once cheeky and ambiguous. “Am I your brother’s keeper Inanna? He was here alright a while ago but I cannot vouch for his whereabouts now.” Inanna knew Mot was spinning a yarn: Shamash’s flying saucer was within the vicinity and therefore he had to be around. She there and then threw up a tantrum, demanding that Mot produce her brother forthwith if he valued his life. The histrionics she put up bore fruit as Mot’s people informed her the two had engaged in “hand combat” and Shamash had been slain.
Inanna was wroth. Drawing on her skills as a martial artist and quivering with rage, she laid into Mot forthwith and downed him. Then reaching for a sword she had cleverly concealed under her clothing, she swung it and in a split second Mot’s head lay beside him with his eyes still staring. Then hollering at Mot’s officials like a heist man who has just staged a hold-up, she demanded, with steel in her voice, that they show her where her brother’s body was otherwise they would all be history.
The officials were wise enough to note the look of murder in Inanna’s eyes and therefore wasted no time in hearkening to her. Shamash’s lifeless body was immediately flown to Baalbek. At the same time, Ningishzidda, Enki’s genius son, was alerted by radio to head for the same destination from where he was as a matter of life and death. Zidda did his “magic” and it worked since Shamash had been dead for less than three days. Within a month, he was fully recovered and was grinding again. As for Mot, it was curtains: he bit the dust alright. Apparently, Zidda wasn’t kin to apply the same reanimating techniques he had used on Shamash.
GILGAMESH WITNESSES ROCKET LAUNCH!
Coming back to The Epic of Gilgamesh, we’re at a stage where Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk who was between two-thirds to three-quarters Anunnaki, at long last arrives at the Cedar Mountain and stands in awe of the magnificent Cedar trees. Gilgamesh, a grandson of Inanna, had undertaken the journey along with his bosom friend Enkidu with a view to access a shem, blast off to Nibiru, the planet of the Anunnaki, partake of King Anu’s Plant of Life and Water of Life, and consequently gain immortality like the Anunnaki were in the eyes of mankind. The trip was a perilous one in that whereas it had the blessings of Shamash, the god in charge of Baalbek, it had not been sanctioned by Ishkur-Adad, the god who oversaw Lebanon in its entirety and under whose political jurisdiction Baalbek fell.
Gilgamesh had arrived at Baalbek, the place where “one could see Shamash rise up the Vault of Heaven”, late in the afternoon and therefore he and Enkidu decided to wait until the following morning before they made further inroads into the Cedar Mountain. Accordingly, they pitched their tents right at the foot of the mountain and at nightfall retired to sleep. Sometime just before dawn, they were awakened by a “thunderous noise and a blinding light”.
Scrambling out of their tent, they stood amid their armed entourage in pitch darkness as they beheld an “awesome” spectacle yonder atop the Cedar Mountain. This is how Gilgamesh describes it in The Epic of Gilgamesh text: “The heavens shrieked, the earth boomed. Daylight failed, darkness came. Lightning flashed, a flame shot up. The clouds swelled, it rained death! Then the glow vanished; the fire went out. And all that had fallen had turned to ashes.”
Needless to say, what Gilgamesh and Enkidu had just witnessed was the launching of a shem– a shuttlecraft. Zechariah Sitchin superbly explicates the event thus: “One needs little imagination to see in these few verses (of The Epic of Gilgamesh) an ancient account of the witnessing of the launching of a rocket ship. First, the tremendous thud as the rocket engines ignited (‘the heavens shrieked’), accompanied by a marked shaking of the ground (‘the earth boomed’).
Clouds of smoke and dust enveloped the launching site (‘daylight failed, darkness came’). Then the brilliance of the ignited engines showed through (‘lightning flashed’); as the rocket ship began to climb skyward, ‘a flame shot up’. The cloud of dust and debris ‘swelled’ in all directions; then, as it began to fall down, ‘it rained death!’ Now the rocket ship was high in the sky, streaking heavenward (‘the glow vanished; the fire went out’). The rocket ship was gone from sight; and the debris ‘that had fallen had turned to ashes’.” The incident did not frighten or deter Gilgamesh: instead, he took it as reassuring evidence that he and Enkidu had come to the right place.
THE FIEND MATERIALISES
To tell by the unperturbed way with which Enkidu and Gilgamesh had proceeded thus far, Shamash had done his utmost in smoothing the way for them. The fierce guards “who watch over Shamash as he ascends and descends”, whose “terror was awesome”, and whose “glance was death” were nowhere to be seen. The “shimmering spotlight” that “sweeps the mountains” seemed to have wandered well away. By the same token, Enkidu had done a commendable reconnaissance job when he first came here for the first time around.
The two did not encounter a single living being standing sentry in the manner Lugalbanda did. They were now very much poised to infiltrate their way into the silos in which the shems were kept. At daybreak, Enkidu and Gilgamesh got going. Using a map Shamash had supplied Gilgamesh with, the two made their way in the direction of a private, back door gate that was privy to the Anunnaki only, careful that they did not get into the cross hairs of “weapon-trees that kill”.
Reaching the gate, the more daring Enkidu, who led the way, keyed in the access code provided by Shamash. There was an electronic click, some sort of green light. But it seemed Enkidu’s palm print did not match with what the computer picked up: the moment he tried to push the gate open, some electronic “punch” zapped him and he fell to the ground unconscious.
A frantic Gilgamesh went to work immediately. Using the paraphernalia Shamash had provided him, he managed to revive Enkidu but the damage, seemingly, had already been done: Enkidu remained numb. He had no feeling from the neck downwards. Drawing upon the tips he had learnt from Enki, Enkidu asked Gilgamesh to fetch the roots of the plants that flourished around them. Gilgamesh did likewise and bent down to rub the nectar of the roots all over Enkidu’s limp body. This had the effect of making a “double mantle of radiance” emanate from Enkidu’s body (like the effect of Ormus) and by the 12th day, “paralysis left his body, impotence left the loins”. Enkidu was one whole again and was raring to go but backwards rather than forwards.
Anxious that what had happened to him could also happen to Gilgamesh and maybe worse in his case, Enkidu suggested to Gilgamesh that they make no further attempts at opening the gate and that they retreat and beat a path back to Uruk. Over the 12 days Enkidu had been an invalid, however, Gilgamesh hadn’t just lain idle: he had been ferreting around and in the process had stumbled upon a tunnel leading to the “enclosure from which words of command are issued”.
This was a chamber were the “Stone of Splendour”, the command centre that Shamash had installed, was located. But there was a glitch: the tunnel opening was concealed with a natural overgrowth of trees and bushes as well as soil and rocks and what that meant was that there was a job to be done before they pried open the tunnel.
“Do not stand by friend, “Gilgamesh implored Enkidu. “Take heart. Let us go down together.” Enkidu was galvanised and the two pressed on into the thick of the forest. Reaching the cleverly camouflaged site under the convenient cover of darkness, the two, along with their henchmen, got down to work, with Gilgamesh’s team hewing down the trees, and Enkidu’s digging up the rocks. They had scarcely gotten into stride when they heard a noise not unlike the cascade of water falling from a height. Then a beam of menacing light engulfed them. It was Huwawa!
“I SHALL BITE YOUR WINDPIPE AND NECK”
Huwawa, a humongous mechanical robot with a human-like appearance and who was capable of moving on the ground as well as gliding in the void, threw a shudder into Gilgamesh and Enkidu. When he materialised at a distance of about 200 meters, Enkidu’s first instinct was to issue the cry, “Take cover” and everybody did likewise at once.
Then Huwawa, who was equipped with an electronic voice that sounded like Stephen Hawking’s synthesised voice, spoke out, even pronouncing forth Gilgamesh’s name: clearly, somebody was speaking through him from somewhere within the Baalbek nerve centre. Intelligence had already seeped through and the intruding twosome had long been anticipated. “You are so very small that I regard you as a turtle and a tortoise,” Huwawa boasted, sounding very sentient and rather reasonable. “Were I to swallow you, I would not satisfy my stomach;
so I shall bite your windpipe and neck, Gilgamesh, and leave your body for the birds of the forest and for the roaring beasts.” Of course that was all programmed rhetoric: it was all metaphoric language for the damaged goods he would make of the duo once he had zapped them with his killer beam,
As the great android inched forward, Gilgamesh beheld him with searing alarm and trepidation, his heart thudding against his ribs. In those fraught moments, Gilgamesh considered that what Enkidu had told him was right: Huwawa was “mighty, his teeth as the teeth of the dragon, his face the face of a lion, his coming like the onrushing floodwaters. Most fearsome was his radiant beam, a killing force none could escape.”
Drawing nearer, the metallic monster demonstrated that he meant business. From the middle of his forehead, a killer beam shot out and traced a path of destruction that devoured the trees, grass, and thickets in the vicinity in a split second. The clearing that resulted exposed Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and their men like sitting ducks.
Why did Huwawa’s killer beam vapourise vegetation but leave the men unscathed? It was all thanks to Shamash, who had emasculated Huwawa in advance of Gilgamesh’s arrival. Ordinarily, Huwawa operated at seven times his present strength but Shamash had electronically toned him down to about one-seventh of his strength. This tampering made Huwawa incapable of electronically harming anything with flesh and blood.
It also rendered him more susceptible to harm himself as he had been tactfully stripped of “six cloaks” and therefore he effectively had six chinks in his armour. But physically, he still was a formidable foe: just one single blow to any of the men lying supine to the ground would immediately draw the curtain on his life.
ENKIDU SLAYS HUWAWA
As Huwawa loomed, the men from Uruk began to panic in the depressing knowledge that there simply was no way they could escape the clutches of this metallic beast. Just then, there was a sound of an approaching chopper and seconds later a message appeared on Gilgamesh’s timepiece. Alerted by the vibration of the wrist-strapped chronometer, Gilgamesh hastily brought his hand to the side of his head and read the text. It was Shamash. “Down from the skies spoke Divine Shamash,” The Epic of Gilgamesh says. The message read, “Do not try to escape; instead, draw near Huwawa. You can take him on with the weapons in your possession.”
Enkidu and Gilgamesh immediately sprang to their feet, but were unable to venture just one step forward so terror-struck were they by the mechanical creature that leisurely approached. As the two hesitated, Shamash’s chopper swooped low and “raised a host of swirling winds which beat against the eyes of Huwawa”. There and then, “the radiant beams vanished, the brilliance became clouded”. But the dreaded monster was still trudging forward anyway, so determined was he to terminate the daring Earthlings.
Once again, Shamash texted a tremulous Gilgamesh. “Do not run,” he urged. “Let Huwawa come near you, then throw the dust at his face”. This dust was not ordinary dust: it was a special-purpose, neutralising powder that Shamash had provided Gilgamesh with at the outset of his journey.
Ferreting in his pockets, Gilgamesh produced the powder, moved two to three steps closer to Huwawa, and flung the chemical into his nondescript face. The effect was instantaneous: Huwawa stood rooted in one place, as if he had been switched off, whereupon Gilgamesh gleefully observed to Enkidu, “He is unable to move forward, nor is he able to move back.” But the great machine monster had not given up the ghost yet.
Once again, he spoke up, this time imploringly, beseeching Gilgamesh to spare his life in exchange for any amount of the seemingly priceless cedars he’d love to get his hands on. Enkidu cautioned Gilgamesh to be wary that he was sweet-talked into docility by the wily monster. "Finish him off, slay him!" Enkidu hollered out at Gilgamesh. Noting that Gilgamesh was scrupling, as if it was a blood-and-flesh being he confronted, Enkidu reached for an axe, edged forward, and struck Huwawa not once but several times. The monster toppled over, landing with a thud that “for two leagues (about 10 km) the cedars resounded with”. The legendary robotic beast was no more.
In Zambia’s most widely spoken language, Bemba, uwawa means “One who has fallen (from a pedestal of some sort)”. The related term Iciwa, meaning “The Fallen Fiend” refers to a ghost, a demon, an apparition, or a vampire. Clearly, it was the fall of Huwawa at the hands of Enkidu that informed these terms.
GILGAMESH RILES INANNA
Now that the monster that was the most daunting barrier to the Abode of the Gods had perished, Gilgamesh and Enkidu decided to toast to their triumph by indulging in some revelry of sorts. But before they did that, they thought they needed to placate the gods, who had fashioned Huwawa, by according him their own improvisation of a hero’s send-off first thing in the morning. “Lest the gods be filled with fury at them, they set up an eternal memorial,” The Epic of Gilgamesh says. “The comrades cut down one of the cedar trees, made poles of it, and formed of them a raft with a cabin on it. In the cabin, they put the head of Huwawa and pushed the raft down a stream so that the Euphrates carries it to Nippur.”
That done, they stripped off and began to splash about in a brook as they chanted songs of merriment. “Gilgamesh washed his grimy hair, polished his weapons. The braid of his hair he shook out against his back. He cast off his soiled things, put on his clean ones. Wrapped a fringed cloak about, fastened with a sash.” The hunky king was scarcely done when Inanna, who seemed to possess the prescience to turn up at just the most tantalising moment, descended in a chopper.
Apparently, she had been spying on Gilgamesh with a zoom lens and having watched him undress and bath, she was once again roused by his mighty joystick and his overall virility. She there and then invited him to bed her. “Glorious Ishtar raised an eye at the beauty of Gilgamesh,” The Epic of Gilgamesh relates. “‘Come, Gilgamesh, be thou my lover,’ she entreated on her knees. “‘Do grant me of thy fruitfulness: thou shalt be a husband, I shall be a wife. Come, let us enjoy your vigour! Reach out your hand and touch my vulva!’” As usual, she proceeded to outline a whole series of benefits that would be at the Uruk King’s disposal if he hearkened to her advances.
But for the umpteenth time now, Gilgamesh rejected her. In recent times, she had made hobby of liquidating men who she invited to sleep with her on the anniversary of her husband Dumuzi’s death when they failed to satiate her. Gilgamesh alluded to this curious state of affairs in his spurn of her. “After the death of Dumuzi, the lover of your youth, thou hast ordained a wailing year after year,” he told her point blank.
“Which of your paramours pleased you all the time?” Gilgamesh went on to make mention of some of these poor folk whose death she had caused latterly. They included a shepherd who fell out of a flying craft; one strong man whose lifeless body she had unceremoniously dumped into a pit; and two men she had turned into a wolf and frog respectively using supernatural means, one of whom her own father’s gardener. “And how about me?" Gilgamesh asked rhetorically. “At the end, you will love me and then treat me just like them.” The Gilgamesh rebuff did not amuse Inanna at all. This time, she vowed somebody’s head was certainly going to roll. Exactly what was in store for Gilgamesh?
Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.
The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.
Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.
At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.
Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.
Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).
This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.
In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.
Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.
POSITIVITY Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.
“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)
We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.
Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be. You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.
When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.
Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.
However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.” “Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.
It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.
Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.
Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.
The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.
It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.