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Blow to Gilgamesh

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER   

…  as Enkidu expires thanks to Jehovah’s spite

Determined to teach Gilgamesh a lesson he’d never forget – that is, if at all he survived – for spurning her not only once but multiple times now, Inanna called upon a “sky monster” and set it loose on him. The official name of the monster was the Gudanna, meaning “Bull of Heaven”.

Just like Huwawa, the Gudanna was not an organic monster: it was a mechanical monster parked somewhere in the Cedar Forest. It was Enlil-Jehovah’s personal plane meant for use only in wars. If you recall, the bull was the symbol of the astrological age of Taurus (4380 to 2220 BC), which was dedicated to Enlil. Enlil himself was also referred to as the Bull of Heaven. The Gudanna was therefore synonymous with Enlil.

Inanna used bluster to commandeer the Gudanna to the satiation of her own personal ends: she did not seek the permission of Enlil at all. Some accounts intimate that she bypassed Enlil and sought permission straight from King Anu on Nibiru but that is highly improbable. With a host of important matters to attend to, there was no way Anu would deign to embroil himself in personal vendettas and matters of ego. In any case, even if Inanna  cabled him in relation to the use of the Gudanna, Anu’s plausible cause of action would have been to refer her to Enlil, who not only was the proprietor of the plane but Earth’s Chief Executive.

With the Gudanna bearing down on his party, Gilgamesh’s priorities changed on the spur of the moment – from a quest for eternal life to fleeing for his life as a psycho Inanna meant business. Now, as godfather of Gilgamesh, Utu-Shamash could not just stand by and watch Inanna blow him to smithereens. Inanna had effectively declared war on a hapless Gilgamesh and therefore he needed his help. As Inanna was in the process of operationalising the Gudanna, Shamash acted swiftly.

He provided Gilgamesh with a levitating vehicle that could enable him make it back to Uruk in only three days when ordinarily he would have taken about a month and fifteen days. Shamash also provided Gilgamesh with sophisticated weaponry with which to counter missiles spewing forth from the Gudanna.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu had a headstart on the Gudanna but as they neared the ramparts of Uruk around the banks of the Euphrates River, the Gudanna, which was captained by Inanna and manoeuvered by two of her ace pilots, caught up with them. As the Gudanna swept low, Inanna pressed a button and a missile sailed forth. Over 200 of Gilgamesh’s men perished instantly. Gilgamesh dashed off into Uruk to mobilise fighters, leaving the quick-witted Enkidu and a few of the surviving men to tackle the Gudanna.

As the mobilised warriors flooded to what was now a battlefield, Inanna laid into them, felling them in their droves. The crazed and trigger-happy goddess was firing non-stop, causing widespread trepidation throughout Uruk. At some stage, she relented a bit and taking advantage of this lull, Enkidu deployed the anti-missile weapon Shamash had provided them and aimed at the Gudanna as it showily did acrobatics in the air.

The Gudanna’s sophisticated sensors alerted Inanna as to the incoming danger in a split second and being trained fighters she and her pilots ejected from the Gudanna. Only seconds after they had done so, and with their parachutes yet to unfurl, the Gudanna began to descend erratically in a spiral. Enkidu’s missile had not struck it clean; only brushed it but the damage was potent enough to bring it down.  

A huge cheer went up from Gilgamesh’s warriors on the ground as they thronged Enkidu and hoisted him shoulder-high. Soon the whole of Uruk had basically emptied to come and see with their own eyes the fallen monster, which Gilgamesh’s warriors set about wrecking and vandalising as they chanted songs of triumph. “After the Bull of Heaven was defeated,” says The Epic of Gilgamesh, “Gilgamesh called out to the craftsmen, the armourers, all of them, to view the mechanical monster and take it apart. Then, triumphant, he and Enkidu went to pay homage to Shamash.”

ENKIDU, GILGAMESH INDICTED

The whole of Uruk partied throughout the night to celebrate the downing of the “sky creature” which had laid waste to hundreds of its sons. Enkidu for one became the toast of the town for almost single handedly terminating the Gudanna. But what Gilgamesh and Enkidu didn’t know was that through their heroic acts of resistance, they had sown the wind and would reap the whirlwind.

Aware that she had landed herself in hot soup for causing the destruction of Enlil’s fighter craft, Inanna raised a self-serving hue and cry, demanding that Gilgamesh and Enkidu be arrested and indicted for destroying a special machine belonging to the most important figure on Earth.  She held a mock funeral at her Eanna abode in honour of the Gudanna and decreed several days of national mourning in Uruk, which almost nobody observed.

It didn’t take long for Enlil to learn about the destruction both of his plane and Huwawa. To say he was wroth is an understatement: he was apoplectic with rage and overcome with melancholy. “When Enlil this heard, with agony he cried, in the heavens of Anu was his wailing heard,” says The Epic of Gilgamesh. “For in his heart Enlil well knew: bad indeed was the omen!” Which it indeed was as we shall demonstrate in due course: it was an allegory of the end of Enlilite rule!

Enlil moved quickly to issue a warrant of arrest for Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Although Inanna too was at fault for unauthorised access to the Gudanna, she was not indicted given the special place she occupied in King Anu’s heart. Gilgamesh and Enkidu were charged for the “murder” of Huwawa and Gudanna, which was absurd indeed as these were mechanical creatures and not organic beings.

It just goes to show how the Anunnaki, or the Enlilites in particular, belittled the life of an Earthling. To them we were beneath artificial things they prized highly. Being an Enkite, Enkidu for one was so tortured by Enlil’s callous sheriffs that he was rendered comatose from the savage beatings. Seeing his bed-ridden friend, Gilgamesh was inconsolable. “Enkidu was afflicted with a coma. Distraught and worried, Gilgamesh paced back and forth before the couch on which Enkidu lay motionless. Bitter tears flowed down his cheeks.”

ENKIDU SENTENCED FOR “MURDER”

It was not until Enkidu was fully recovered that the trial commenced before the Enlilite Council of the Gods. The majority verdict initially was a death sentence for both Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The two contested the sentence and on appeal, Shamash recused himself from the ranks of the bench to act as counsel for the appellants. 
 

In his deposition, Shamash argued that both he and Inanna were complicit in what had transpired and so they were equally culpable. He went on to say that Gilgamesh and Enkidu were attacked “by the monsters” and so had the right to defend themselves. “They had to kill before they were killed,” Shamash put it before the bench. “None of the two deserves to die.”
 

Although Shamash’s arguments were well-reasoned, all he managed to do was to secure the acquittal of Gilgamesh. Enkidu’s death sentence was upheld, with the bench holding to the view that in the demise of both Huwawa and the Gudanna, it was by his direct hand alone that they perished. Shamash denounced the decision as nonsensical. “Why should Enkidu die alone?” he wondered aloud. “The killings of Huwawa and the Gudanna were done with his (Gilgamesh’s) concurrence.”

Sadly, the bench was not persuaded. Enkidu was headed for the gallows. The only option was for him to file for clemency before the high offices of Enlil, which he did at the advice of Shamash although if it were up to him alone, he would rather he died as a martyr. But Shamash held him in very high esteem being his future son-in-law.

Enlil relented thanks to the concerted pleadings of Enki, Ninmah and Ninsun and commuted Enkidu’s death sentence to lifelong toil in the “Land of the Mines,” that is, Tilmun in the Sinai Peninsula, “a place where copper and turquoise were obtained by backbreaking toil in dark tunnels”. But deep down, Enlil still begrudged Enkidu. One way or the other, he vowed to himself, he’d get even with Enkidu. Enlil simply was not the forgiving type.

Enkidu was accordingly summoned to Enlil’s courts and informed of his fate. Then Enlil rendered him the following instructions: “Two emissaries clothed like birds, with wings for garments, shall appear unto you. One of them, a young man whose face is dark, who like a Bird-Man is his face, shall transport you to the Land of the Mines.  He will be dressed like an Eagle. By the arm he will lead thee. Follow me, he will say.

He will lead you to the House of Darkness, the abode below the ground, the abode which none leave who have entered into it. A road from which there is no return, a House whose dwellers are bereft of light, where dust is in their mouths and clay is their food.”

Underground mining in those days was the equivalent of Hell. One lived there for life, never to resurface. They died right underground and were buried right there. Once again, Gilgamesh shed copious tears for his most cherished friend. But Enkidu himself was stoic: if that was how fate willed it, he said to Gilgamesh, then so be it.

GILGAMESH’S SECOND SHOT AT ATTAINING IMMORTALITY

Shortly after Enkidu’s sentence was passed, Gilgamesh once again began to muse about his mortality and the possibility of eschewing it. Then an idea dawned in his mind. The Land of Mines, where Enkidu was now destined, was cheek by jaw with the Land of the Living in the Sinai Peninsula and of which Shamash was in charge.  The latter was the spaceport, the place where those who had dutifully served the gods – the Anunnaki – lived in eternal bliss.

These folk, who included Noah, the hero of the Deluge, had ridden a shem to Nibiru, so it was believed, and had returned to Earth invested with immortality. The spaceport teemed with rockets: maybe it was time Gilgamesh had his second stab at riding in a shem by going to Tilmun! He’d ask Shamash to arrange for him to travel with Enkidu as he was headed to the same place basically.    

Hence it was that Gilgamesh yet again prostrated himself before Shamash for permission to undertake the venture and for his blessings as his godfather. “O, Shamash, the Land I wish to enter: be thou my ally!” Gilgamesh entreated Shamash in the company of his mother Ninsun. “The Land which with the cool date palms aligned, I wish to enter; be thou my ally! In the places where the shems have been raised, let me set up my shem!”

Shamash at first equivocated as he didn’t want a replay of the Cedar Mountain scenario: Enlil had made it clear to him that if such an abomination were to happen again, Shamash would be stripped of his post as the overseer of the Anunnaki’s space-related facilities. But after meticulously prescribing a code of conduct along the way for Gilgamesh, he finally gave him the green light but not before he warned him of the hazards and difficulties of the land route. 

Gilgamesh proposed that he travel by sea for most of the journey, and drop off Enkidu on the way. He would sail down the Persian Gulf, around the Arabian Peninsula, and up the Red Sea till he reached Tilmun City (today called El-Tor), the most important port on the Sinai coast. It was there he would part with Enkidu, who would proceed to the Land of Mines not very far off to slave for the rest of his life, whilst Gilgamesh himself would proceed to Paradise.   

MAGAN VESSEL SHIPWRECKS

A month later, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, accompanied by 50 men comprising sailors, body minders, and medical attendants, set sail in a chartered Magan Boat, a “Ship of Egypt”.  This was a decoy boat – to give the impression that they were headed for Egypt when their destination was actually the Sinai Peninsula.

For part of the way, Shamash escorted them. Then wishing them a safe journey, he sailed back in the opposite direction, his heart heavy with the harrowing thought of  seeing Enkidu for the last time. It galled him that such a man of valour and such a fine physical specimen would no longer be his son-in-law. As he sailed  along, he cursed his grandfather Enlil, who more often than not came across as a devil than a virtuous, above-board  being.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu meanwhile continued with their journey. They were not too far gone from Sumer and were sailing through the narrow strait leading out of the Persian Gulf,  today known as the Strait of Ormuz,  when dusk fell. “The mountains along the distant coast became dark, shadows spread over them.” Shortly  thereafter, they noticed a watchtower far afield on the right-hand shore of a strip of  land which is today part of a country called Oman.

What they saw atop the watchtower gave them the creeps. “Standing alongside the mountain  was someone who like Huwawa could emit rays from which none can escape. Like a bull he stood on the great Earth house.”  The creature beckoned  them to come to a halt. Clearly, it wanted to accost them.

Gilgamesh was all too aware that such a creature had to be fought and tamed before it erased them from the face of the Earth with its death-ray emitting device. The memory of Cedar Mountain was still fresh in his mind: if Enkidu hadn’t killed Huwawa, he and him would not be alive today. So Gilgamesh there and then gave orders that the ship anchor ashore so that they confront the mechanical  watchman.

Enkidu on the other had seemed to have a presentiment of what could transpire. He countered that they keep clear of the shore, postpone the journey,  make u-turn, and head back to Uruk.     Gilgamesh refused to budge. “Whether the watchman be a god, a mortal, or otherwise, I’ll fight him,” Gilgamesh vowed as he instructed his men to have their arms at the ready.    

Then all hell broke loose. “A sudden wind, as though driven by the watchman's beam, tore the ship's sail and overturned the boat. Next, the ship itself was thrust on its side and capsized. It sank fast, like a stone in water. All in it sank down.”      Unbeknownst to them, it was  all the work of Enlil. Remember what he had said about sorting Enkidu out when the prerogative of mercy over Enkidu was wrung from his lips by Enki, Ninmah and Ninsun? Enkidu was the Jonah of the  Magan ship. It was he Enlil had plotted to be rid off for destroying his beloved Gudanna: everybody else was collateral damage.  No one held a grudge like Jehovah.

ENKIDU IS NO MORE

Only two survived the shipwreck and these were none other than Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Gilgamesh for one was essentially  unscathed. But Enkidu sustained internal  injuries which compromised his ability to swim. Seeing his body drifting limply, Gilgamesh swam over and dragged him along towards the shore, well away from  the  location of the watchtower, praying for a miracle. Gilgamesh then laid him down and began to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and Enkidu came to at long last and sat  up.

Outwardly, Enkidu didn’t look in a particularly bad shape and spoke coherently. Since the winds were blowing in the direction of the shore, the flotsam soon began to wash ashore, including the wreckage itself.  Gilgamesh and Enkidu rose to their feet and ambled toward the wreckage so they could take a closer look at it.  “They could see the ship with its crew still at their posts, looking amazingly alive in their deaths. In the sudden death (from the death rays fired off by the mechanical watchman and not from drowning), they just froze in whatever position they were.”  

The  two survivors spent the whole night arguing as to what should be their next of action. Enkidu, who  not hundred percent, wanted them to hitch a ride back to Uruk on the first passing boat but Gilgamesh was determined that come what may, he had to get to the Sinai Peninsula by any means necessary. The idea of making a retreat was simply inconceivable. Then in the early hours of the morning, Enkidu took a turn for the worse.

“His limbs became numb, his insides were disintegrating.”  Gilgamesh was thrown into panic. He  there and then changed  his mind and now inclined to return to Uruk for the sake of his best friend. “My friend," he cried, "Please stay alive. To our land I will bring thee.”  

Sadly, Enkidu’s number was up. He opened his eyes for the  last time and unable to utter a  single word as his vocal chords were numbed stared fixedly at Gilgamesh as if to bid him farewell. Then  breathing  his last, he gave up the ghost. Gilgamesh could not believe his bosom friend, who was closer and more dedicated to him than any of his brothers, was gone. He dug a grave right on the shore and buried  Enkidu. For six days and seven nights, he sat by the grave, mourning the man he esteemed as the hero of Uruk.

NEXT WEEK:  ALUTA CONTINUA FOR GILGAMESH 

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The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

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Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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