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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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DIS Parley Committee selection disingenuous 

25th November 2020

Intelligence and Security Service Act, which is a law that establishes the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DIS), provides for establishment of a Parliamentary Committee. Recently, the President announced nine names of Members of Parliament he had appointed to the Committee.

This announcement was preceded by a meeting the President held with the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition. Following the announcement of Committee MPs by the President, the opposition, through its leader, made it clear that it will not participate in the Committee unless certain conditions that would ensure effective oversight are met. The opposition acted on the non-participation threat through resignation of its three MPs from the Committee.

The Act at Section 38 provides for the establishment of the Committee to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Directorate. The law provides that the Parliamentary Committee shall have the same powers and privileges set out under the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.

On composition, the Committee shall consist of nine members who shall not be members of Cabinet and its quorum shall be five members.  The MPs in the Committee elect a chairperson from among their number at their first meeting.

The Members of the Committee are appointed by the President after consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. It is the provision of the law that the Committee, relative to its size, reflect the numerical strengths of the political parties represented in the National Assembly.

The Act provides that that a member of the Committee holds office for the duration of the Parliament in which he or she is appointed.  The Committee is mandated to make an annual report on the discharge of their functions to the President and may at any time report to him or her on any matter relating to the discharge of those functions.

The Minister responsible for intelligence and security is obliged to lay before the National Assembly a copy of each annual report made by the Committee together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of the provision of the Act.

If it appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Parliamentary Committee, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Directorate, the Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before the National Assembly.

So, what are the specific demands of the Opposition and why are they not participating in the Committee? What should happen as a way forward? The Opposition demanded that there be a forensic audit of the Directorate. The DIS has never been audited since it was set up in 2008, more than a decade ago.

The institution has been a law unto itself for a longtime, feared by all oversight bodies. The Auditor General, who had no security of tenure, could not audit the DIS. The Directorate’s personnel, especially at a high level, have been implicated in corruption.  Some of its operatives are in courts of law defending corruption charges preferred against them. Some of the corruption cases which appeared in the media have not made it to the courts.

The DIS has been accused of non-accountability and unethical practices as well as of being a burden on the fiscus.  So, the Opposition demanded, from the President, a forensic audit for the purpose of cleaning up the DIS.  They demand a start from a clean slate.

The second demand by the Opposition is that the law be reviewed to ensure greater accountability of the DIS to Parliament. What are some of the issues that the opposition think should be reviewed? The contention is that the executive cannot appoint a Committee of Parliament to scrutinize an executive institution.

Already, it is argued, Parliament is less independent and it is dominated by the executive. It is contended that the Committee should be established by the Standing Orders and be appointed by a Select Committee of Parliament. There is also an argument that the Committee should report to Parliament and not to the President and that the Minister should not have any role in the Committee.

Democratic and Parliamentary oversight of the intelligence is relatively a new phenomenon across the World. Even developed democracies are still grappling with some of these issues. However, there are acceptable standards or what might be called international best practices which have evolved over the past two or so decades.

In the UK for instance, MPs of the Intelligence and Security Committee are appointed by the Houses of Parliament, having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. This is a good balancing exercise of involvement of both the executive and the legislature. Consultation is taken for granted in Botswana context in the sense that it has been reduced to just informing the Leader of Opposition without much regard to his or her ideas; they are never taken seriously.

Furthermore, the current Committee in the UK has four Members of the ruling party and five MPs from the opposition. It is a fairly balanced Committee in terms of Parliamentary representation. However, as said above, the President of Botswana appointed six ruling party MPs and three from the opposition.

The imbalance is preposterous and more pronounced with clear intentions of getting the executive way through the ruling party representatives in the Committee. The intention to avoid scrutiny is clear from the numbers of the ruling party MPs in the Committee.

There is also an international standard of removing sensitive parts which may harm national security from the report before it is tabled in the legislature. The previous and current reluctance of the executive arms to open up on Defence and Security matters emanate from this very reason of preserving and protecting national security.

But national security should be balanced with public interest and other democratic principles. The decision to expunge certain information which may be prejudicial to national security should not be an arbitrary and exclusive decision of the executive but a collective decision of a well fairly balanced Committee in consultation with the Speaker and the minister responsible.

There is no doubt that the DIS has been a rogue institution. The reluctance by the President to commit to democratic-parliamentary oversight reforms presupposes a lack of commitment to democratization. The President has no interest in seeing a reformed DIS with effective oversight of the agency.

He is insincere. This is because the President loathes the idea losing an iota of power and sharing it with any other democratic institution. He sees the agency as his power lever to sustain his stay in the high office. He thought he could sanitize himself with an ineffective DIS Committee that would dance to his tune.

The non-participation of the opposition MPs renders the Committee dysfunctional; it cannot function as this would be unlawful. Participation of the opposition is a legal requirement. Even if it can meet, it would lack legitimacy; it cannot be taken seriously. The President should therefore act on the oversight demands and reform the DIS if he is to be taken seriously.

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The Maccabean Uprising

25th November 2020
Jewish freedom fighters

 Jews drive away occupying power under the command of guerrilla leader Judas Maccabees but only just

Although it was the Desolation Sacrilege act, General Atiku, that officially sparked the Maccabean revolt, it in truth simply stoked the fires of an already simmering revolution. How so General?

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Atomic (CON)Fusion

25th November 2020

For years I have trained people about paradigm shifts – those light-bulb-switch-on moments – where there is a seismic change from the usual way of thinking about something to a newer, better way. 

I like to refer to them as ‘aha’ moments because of the sudden understanding of something which was previously incomprehensible. However,  the topic of today’s article is the complete antithesis of ‘aha’.  Though I’d love to tell you I’d had a ‘eureka ‘, ‘problem solved’ moment, I am faced with the complete opposite – an ‘oh-no’ moment or Lost Leader Syndrome.

No matter how well prepared or capable a leader is. they often find themselves facing perplexing events, confounding information, or puzzling situations. Confused by developments of which they can’t make sense and by challenges that they don’t know how to solve they become confused, sometimes lost and completely clueless about what to do.

I am told by Jentz and Murphy (JM) in ‘What leaders do when they don’t know what to do’ that this is normal, and that rapid change is making confusion a defining feature of management in the 21st century.  Now doesn’t that sound like the story of 2020 summed up in a single sentence?

The basic premise of their writing is that “confusion is not a weakness to be ashamed of but a regular and inevitable condition of leadership. By learning to embrace their confusion, managers are able to set in motion a constructive process for addressing baffling issues.

In fact, confusion turns out to be a fruitful environment in which the best managers thrive by using the instability around them to open up better lines of communication, test their old assumptions and values against changing realities, and develop more creative approaches to problem solving.”

The problem with this ideology however is that it doesn’t help my overwhelming feelings of fear and panic which is exacerbated by a tape playing on a loop in my head saying  ‘you’re supposed to know what to do, do something’. My angst is compounded by annoying motivational phrases also unhelpfully playing in my head like.

  • Nothing happens until something moves
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started

and

  • Act or be acted upon

All these platitudes are urging me to pull something out of the bag, but I know that this is a trap. This need to forge ahead is nothing but a coping mechanism and disguise. Instead of owning the fact that I haven’t got a foggy about what to do, part of me worries that I’ll lose authority if I acknowledge that I can’t provide direction – I’m supposed to know the answers, I’m the MD!  This feeling of not being in control is common for managers in ‘oh no’ situations and as a result they often start reflexively and unilaterally attempting to impose quick fixes to restore equilibrium because, lets be honest, sometimes we find it hard to resist hiding our confusion.

To admit that I am lost in an “Oh, No!” moment opens the door not only to the fear of losing authority but also to a plethora of other troubling emotions and thoughts:  *Shame and loss of face: “You’ll look like a fool!” * Panic and loss of control: “You’ve let this get out of hand!” * Incompetence and incapacitation: “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

As if by saying “I’m at a loss here” is tantamount to declaring “I am not fit to lead.” Of course the real problem for me and any other leader is if they don’t admit when they are disoriented, it sends a signal to others in the organisation stating it’s not cool to be lost and that, by its very nature encourages them to hide.  What’s the saying about ‘a real man never asks for direction. ..so they end up driving around in circles’.

As managers we need to embrace the confusion, show vulnerability (remember that’s not a bad word) and accept that leadership is not about pretending to have all the answers but about having the courage to search with others to discover a solution.

JM point out that “being confused, however, does not mean being incapacitated.  Indeed, one of the most liberating truths of leadership is that confusion is not quicksand from which to escape but rather the potter’s clay of leadership – the very stuff with which managers can work.”

2020 has certainly been a year to remember and all indications are that the confusion which has characterised this year will still follow us into the New Year, thereby making confusion a defining characteristic of the new normal and how managers need to manage. Our competence as leaders will then surely be measured not only by ‘what I know’ but increasingly by ‘how I behave when I accept, I don’t know, lose my sense of direction and become confused.

.I guess the message for all organizational cultures going forward is that sticking with the belief that we need all-knowing, omni-competent executives will cost them dearly and send a message to managers that it is better to hide their confusion than to address it openly and constructively.

Take comfort in these wise words ‘Confusion is a word we have invented for an order not yet understood’!

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