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Operation Contain Marduk

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

A disillusioned Enlilites task Nergal to help neutralise his brother

Marduk, accompanied by his heir Nabu, returned to Babylon with the permission and encouragement of the Enlilite top  brass in 2316 BC.  He was not officially briefed as to what he should do but the signal from Enlil was that he should get Sargon to bite the dust as the surest way of taming Inanna-Ishtar.

Arriving in Babylon, Marduk did not rush to confront  Sargon and Inanna. First, he heavily fortified the city by raising its dikes and walls  so that when hostilities broke out, it was secure to a point of being impregnable. Second, Marduk, a civil engineer by training, erected a brand new infrastructure of canals, retinues, and waterworks, complete with underground dams to ensure that Babylon was adequately supplied with water for the foreseeable future. But in doing this, he diverted gargantuan volumes of water from the nearby cities with a view to punish Agade primarily and therefore demoralise its citizenry to a point of rebelling against Sargon and his goddess.

Marduk found that he did not need to wage war against Sargon: the hydrological measures he took were enough to trigger widespread insurrectionist activity in Agade. Without adequate water in a naturally arid land, people could not farm for years on end and starvation became the order of the day. The inevitable followed: the people of Agade turned against their own King. “On account of the sacrilege Sargon thus committed,” say the Sumerian records, “the great lord Marduk became enraged and destroyed his (Sargon’s) people by hunger. From the east to the west he alienated them from Sargon; and upon him he inflicted as punishment that he could not rest.” Even the very texts dedicated to the glorification of Sargon candidly state that, “in his old age,  all the  provinces revolted against him.”

The beleaguered Sargon spent sleepless nights trying to put off one rebellion after another. Beset by sustained internal dissent, he no longer could afford  the expansionist wars of which he was so renowned. Unable to tame his relentlessly mutinous people, he died a very bitter and dejected man circa 2346 BC.  In his waning days, he had such rancour against Inanna that he kept cursing her right to his very last breath for foisting on him her own, self-centred ambitions for world dominance. 

Even more galling was that the she-Devil was nowhere near his death-bed to comfort him. He had given her great sex and brought her enormous prestige during the 54 years he ruled Sumer & Akkad but as a spent force now, his glory of yesteryears no longer mattered. It was vintage Inanna: she had used and discarded him like a condom.    

MARDUK UNSETTLES ENLILITES

Where Marduk was a factor in any bone of contention, Inanna just never budged however hopeless her prospects for redress appeared. Marduk, her mortal enemy who robbed her of her beloved Dumuzi wittingly or unwittingly, was once again ensconced in the heart of Sumer. And not only  that: he had deprived Inanna lands of a most vital commodity – water. Inanna vowed to fight him to the death: she would not rest until she got him on the back foot all the way to Egypt, his rightful domain.

Immediately after the death of Sargon, Inanna installed his firstborn son Rimush on the throne.   Using him as her battering ram, she descended on Babylon like a howling dervish. “Inanna’s fury no boundaries knew,” say the Sumerian chronicles. “With her weapons on Marduk’s followers death she inflicted,  raining flame over the land …  attacking like an aggressive storm.  The blood of people, as never before on Earth, like rivers flowed.”

But Marduk was not the one to cower and  offer the other cheek: he gave as much as he took. In fact, for a number of years, Marduk’s armies had the upper hand, forcing Inanna to replace an underperforming Rimush with his younger brother Manishtusu as her vassal king. Once again, Marduk had the edge. The top brass Enlilites, who had given Marduk the green light to re-establish himself in Babylon, now were alarmed. If Marduk became too powerful, their hope of hobbling his ascendancy to the Enlilship at the dawn of the Age of Aries would be a very tall order indeed.

In order to  rein him in, it  was either they  went to war with him or  simply used moral suasion to get him to peacefully retreat from Sumer. The war option obviously was fraught with peril: the Enlilites were in no mood to spark another Enlilite-versus-Enkite war, which this time around might be apocalyptic. The better course of action, therefore, was to engage Marduk in persuasive, roundtable talks. And if that idea had to resonate with him, they would have to use a fellow Enkite, not an Enlilite, who he would readily dismiss as the paradigm of a saboteur.

But the Enkite had to be one who either had Enlilite blood in him or had a demonstrable affinity for the Enlilites. The only Enkite gods who bore such attributes were Nergal and Ningishzidda. Zidda’s mother was Ereshkigal, a granddaughter of Enlil. And Nergal was married to the same Ereshkigal. However, Zidda and Marduk never saw eye to eye: if you recall,   Zidda had been forced to leave Egypt for Mesoamerica half a world away by Marduk circa 3113 BC. As such, the Enlilites’ only hope was Nergal, whose other bargaining chip was that he was Marduk’s immediate younger brother.    


NERGAL UNDERTAKES  TO REPATRIATE MARDUK

Nergal was the Enkites’ enfant terrible, their equivalent of  the Enlilites’ Inanna-Ishtar. Nergal’s other name was Erra. Scholars have misconceived this name as suggesting he was a minion of Marduk, a kind of servant. But you know as much as I do that Nergal was far from  a servant of his brother. As a matter of fact, he was a menace to his brother. What Erra simply means is  “Junior to Marduk”,  whose Egyptian royal title was “Ra”. This was apt in that Nergal was theoretically second in line to the symbolic throne of Enki: as an Enkite heir, Nergal was subordinate only to Marduk, hence his being  “The  Erra”. 

The Enlilite Council to which Nergal was invited comprised of Enlil, Ninurta, Nannar-Sin, Ishkur-Adad, and Utu-Shamash. The only eminent Enlilite missing for obvious reasons was Inanna. In the meeting, chairman Enlil first expressed his dismay that Marduk wanted to dig in in Babylon because he thought the Age of Aries had already arrived. That, Enlil emphasised, was far from the case. Before Enlil could go any further, he was interrupted by Ninurta.  “In Heaven, I am a wild bull,” Ninurta thundered. “On Earth,  I am a lion. In the land,  I am the lord, among the gods I am the fiercest.”

Now, what Ninurta was saying was not simply ordinary-speak. It was actually astrological language, invoking as he was the cult animals of the Enlilites. What he meant was that when one looked up at the evening sky, what they saw was the constellation of Taurus still, which was represented by a bull. As such, the Enlilites, whose second generation he Ninurta headed,  were still the Lords of the Earthly realm.

The lion was the symbol of kingship, this arising from the fact that on their planet of origin in the Sirius start system, the Enlilites evolved from a Leonine-Wolfen-Reptilian  creature whose dominant feature was that of the lion. That in fact is the reason why even today, the lion is known as the King of  Beasts.  It is an allegory of the fact that we Earthlings are still a colony of   Sirius, that the Sirians will remain the Lords of the  Earthly Realm for the foreseeable future though we naively fancy ourselves as a sovereign race.

But although Nergal had a propensity for Enlilites and he and Marduk were frequently at odds, he chose to be impartial and level-headed about the matter. This was his response: “Yes, all that is true. But on the mountaintop, in the bush thicket, see you not the Ram? Its emergence  is unavoidable: in that grove, even the supermost time measurer, the bearer of the standards, the course cannot change …  On the rim of the Sun's orbit, no matter what the struggle, see that Ram.”

Nergal had made the very same point Marduk  kept harping about – that even if the celestial background still was that of Taurus, if one looked closely on the horizon, they would see the approaching Age of the Ram (the Anunnaki had very sophisticated viewing instruments).  This was simply the march of nature: it was unstoppable.  

The Enlilites were stupefied. They didn’t expect Nergal to speak so  favourably and logically of his brother. Lost for words, they began to scratch their heads. It was Nergal himself who came to their aid. He told them that the only thing he could attempt to do on their behalf was to persuade Marduk to restore water supplies to other Sumerian states and to tactfully get him to leave Babylon and therefore bring an end to the on-going armed confrontation. “But that would simply be a postponement of the inevitable,” he regretted to the Enlilites.

The Enlilites gave the suggestion their nod. For with Marduk gone from Babylon, Inanna would certainly get to behave as her father Nannar-Sin and her mother Ningal were spending sleepless nights wondering how their incorrigible and intractable daughter could ever be contained. Marduk’s departure would not douse his ambition to ascend to Enlilship but it would bring about a refreshing lull in the storm and give the Enlilites ample time to weigh their options.    
 

NERGAL ESCORTED BY AN ARMY OF FIRST JEWS

Before he departed for Babylon, Nergal sent word to Marduk that he was on his way and that he should prepare for him.  He also informed his brother that he would not be heading straight for Babylon but would deviate to Uruk, Inanna’s cult city, to seek an oracle (divine guidance) at the Eanna, Inanna’s temple home which also doubled as Nibiru King Anu’s spiritual sanctuary. Accompanying Nergal on his trek was a legion of well-trained warriors known as the Gutians. Since he was going into a region wracked with warfare, it was imperative that Nergal be ready to defend himself in case he was wittingly or unwittingly set upon by the forces of either Marduk or Inanna.

Exactly who were the Gutians? In defining them, scholars have as with most aspects about the Sumerian saga got it wrong, erred, or simply desperately fudged the matter.  They identify them as warriors all right, but fell to specify their nationality. Well, we will do it for them: the Gutians were the first Jews. Historians are reluctant to characterise them as such because in the Sumerian records, they have been described as dark-skinned, or Africans in short. But we now know that the original Jews were dark-skinned, like the people  we today call Falashian Jews.

Historians expediently ignore the fact that the terms Gutians and Judeans mean the same thing. And everybody knows that Judeans were Jews. In point of fact, the Judeans were the true representatives of the Jewish people. It is from the   House of Judah (same notion, different spelling) that Jesus emerged, the reason he’s sometimes referred to as the “Lion of Judah”, meaning “The King of the Jews”.   

The Gutians were Judeans. They were also known as Kurtheans. The composite meaning of all these three terms is “Mighty Foreigners of the Mountains”. The Gutians were foreigners in Sumer because they came from the part of Africa where Nergal ruled. They were mountain people not that that was their habitat as such but because they were best-trained in mountain-based warfare.

Their base in Europe was the Zagros Mountain range in today’s south-eastern Turkey, which bordered the land of  Sumer-Akkad.  Whilst in Sumer, they would establish their base at Kutha, along the section of the Zagros Mountain that separated Iraq from Iran. Since they were not native to Sumer, they were dismissively described as a “nomadic people”. In future, the Gutians would constitute an elite crack force of General Ibirum, known in the Bible as Abraham. But that is another story we will come to later.

INANNA SEDUCES NERGAL

When Nergal arrived at the Eanna in Uruk, Inanna was eagerly awaiting him. And she made sure she looked so sexy and so stunning as to make Nergal salivate, which he indeed did: the moment he saw her, a huge sensation of  lust pervaded him. Just from the way he eyed her, Inanna knew in her heart that she had thrust a spear through his own.

Inanna there and then  whisked him to her lovemaking pad known as the Gigunnu. But she didn’t strip straightaway: she first had to present her manifesto.   The basic essentials of the manifesto were that she wanted Nergal to ally with her in her contention with Marduk. The two should face-off with him and once he had been vanquished they would rule the world as god and goddess of the Age of the Ram.

“Look Nergal,” Inanna intoned as she turned on her sex appeal by deliberately flashing her shapely thighs, “even after the death of my hubby Dumuzi, I wanted you to marry me. I wanted your kids. I’m the more suitable person for your spouse and not the dim-witted and obscure Ereshkigal.  So let’s conquer the world and rule it together Nergal!   Let us make mince of Marduk.”

With so much loathing for Marduk naturally, Nergal did not need persuading: it was a deal without much ado. Nergal undertook that he would do Inanna’s bidding but would proceed about it  in a tactical way. He would first cajole Marduk into departing Sumer and then do a demolition job on his  instruments of self-assertion.  Then Inanna and he would sit down to orchestrate the demise of Marduk. With Marduk gone to glory, Nergal as the second born would replace him as the new Enlil in the Age of the Ram. That was like music to Inanna’s eyes. She there and then stripped, threw herself onto the bed and lying spread-eagled said to Nergal: “Come and get it.  Let’s seal our pact with a round of earthshaking intimacy!”

NERGAL SLAMS MARDUK

 Like his father Enki, Marduk did not bear grudges. In terms of kindliness, it was Marduk of Enki’s five surviving sons who was very much like him. Nergal was the coldest and harshest Enkite. But Marduk received him very warmly in his Esagil temple-house, formally and cheerfully introducing him to his officials as his beloved immediate young brother.

Before they sat down for talks, Marduk took Nergal on a conducted tour of  Babylon, showing him the great water infrastructure he had put in place. At least at face value, Nergal was wowed. He told his brother the waterworks and the uninterrupted power supply surely had made him  “shine as a star  in the heavens”. But, Nergal regretted in the same breath, it was all done with utter disregard for other cities. “Whilst you have lit it up your sacred prencincts and sophisticated your city, the Abode of Anu (Uruk) with darkness is covered. The other gods are seething. You cannot go against the will of Anu and other gods.”

Marduk’s response was that since there was havoc all around Sumer, it behoved him to rebuild his city to ready it for that day when it would be the capital of the world. “In the aftermath of the Deluge, the decrees of Heaven and Earth had gone astray. The cities of the gods upon the wide Earth were changed around; they were not brought back to their locations …  As I survey them again, of the evil I am disgusted:  without a return to their original places, mankind's existence is diminished. Rebuild I must my residence.”

NEXT  WEEK: IRON LADY TAKES THE BULL BY ITS HORNS!
 

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Economic Resurgence Options: Is Export-Led Growth Tenable For Botswana?

22nd September 2020

The world in which we live is a criminally unequal one. In his iconic 1945 allegorical novella,  Animal Farm, a satire on the facetiousness  of the then Soviet Empire’s crackbrained experiment with a command economy, the legendary George Orwell in my view hit the nail squarely on the head when he said all animals were equal but some animals were more equal than others.

That’s the never-ending dichotomy of the so-called First World and its polar opposite, the so-called Third World as Orwell’s cleverly-couched diatribe applies as much to the tread-of-the-mill laissez faire economics of our day as it did to Marxist-Leninist Russia a generation back.

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Victory is Won

22nd September 2020

Israelites take Canaan under General Joshua

Even as the Nation of Israeli braced to militarily take possession of the Promised Land, General, its top three senior citizens, namely Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, were not destined to share in this god-conferred bequest. All three died before the lottery was won.

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Finance Bills: What are they about?

22nd September 2020

Financial Reporting (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and Accountants (Amendment) Bill, 2020 were expeditiously passed by parliament on Thursday.

What are these two Bills really about?  The Bills are essentially about professional values that are applicable to auditors and accountants in their practice. The Bills seeks to basically enhance existing laws to ensure more uprightness, fairness, professional proficiency, due care, expertise and or professional technical standards.

The Financial Reporting Act, 2010 (FRA) establishes the Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA), as the country’s independent regulator of the accounting and auditing profession. BAOA is responsible for the oversight and registration of audit firms and certified auditors of public interest entities.

In the same vein, there is the Accountants Act, 2010 establishing the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) which is responsible for the registration and regulation of the accounting and auditing profession. This consequently infers that some auditors have to register first with BICA as certified auditors, and also with BAOA as certified auditors of public bodies. So, the Bills sought to avert the duplication.

According to Minister Matsheka, the duplication of efforts in the regulation of auditors, which is done by both BICA and BAOA, creates a substantial gap on oversight of certified auditors in Botswana, as the two entities have different review procedures. He contends that the enforcement of sanctions becomes problematic and, thus, leads to offenders going Scot-Free, and audit quality standards also continue to plunge.

The Financial Reporting (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in the view of the Minister, brings the oversight and regulation of all auditors in Botswana under the jurisdiction of the Accountancy Oversight Authority and that Bringing all auditors within one roof, under the supervision of BAOA would therefore reinforce their oversight and significantly enhance accountability.

He also pointed that the Bill broadens the current mandate of the Authority by redefining public interest entities to include public bodies, defined as boards, tribunals, commissions, councils, committees, other body corporate or unincorporated established under any enactment.

This covers any company in which government has an equity shareholding. In order to enable the process of instituting fitting sanctions against violation of its provisions, the Bill clearly lays down acts and lapses that constitute professional misconduct.

This Bill further strengthens the sanctions for breach of the Act by public interest entities, officers, firms, and certified auditors. Reinforcing the law with respect to such sanctions will act as an effective deterrent for breach of the Act.

The Accountants Bill also strengthens the current mandate of the Institute by making it obligatory for those who provide accountancy services in Botswana to register with the Institute, and for all employers to hire accountants who are registered with the Institute.

The Minister reasons that in line with the spirit of citizen empowerment, this Bill proposes reservation of at least 50% of the Council membership for citizens. This, he says, is to empower citizens and ensure that citizenries play an active role in the affairs of the Institute, and ultimately in the development of the accounting profession in Botswana.

The Bills come at a point when Botswana’s financial sector is in a quagmire. The country has been blacklisted by the European Union. Its international rankings on Corruption Perception Index have slightly reduced.  According to recent reports by Afro Barometer survey, perceptions of corruption in the public service have soured and so is mistrust in public institutions.

Rating agencies, Standard Poor’s and Moody’s have downgraded Botswana, albeit slightly. The reasons are that there continues to be corruption, fiscal and revenue crimes such as money laundering and general unethical governance in the country. There are still loopholes in many laws despite the enactments and amendments of more than thirty laws in the last two years.

One of the most critical aspect of enhancing transparency and accountability and general good governance, is to have a strong auditing and accounting systems. Therefore, such professions must be properly regulated to ensure that public monies are protected against white color crime. It is well known that some audit firms are highly unprincipled.

They are responsible for tax avoidance and tax evasions of some major companies. Some are responsible for fraud that has been committed. They are more loyal to money paid by clients than to ethical professional standards. They shield clients against accountability. Some companies and parastatals have collapsed or have been ruined financially despite complementary reports by auditors.

In some cases, we have seen audit firms auditing parastatals several times to almost becoming resident auditors. This is bad practice which is undesirable. Some auditors who were appointed liquidators of big companies have committee heinous crimes of corruption, imprudent management, fraud and outright recklessness without serious consequences.

There is also a need to protect whistleblowers as they have been victimized for blowing the whistle on impropriety. In fact, in some cases, audit firms have exonerated culprits who are usually corrupt corporate executives.

The accounting and auditing professions have been dominated by foreigners for a very long time. Most major auditing firms used by state entities and big private sector companies are owned by foreigners. There has to be a deliberate plan to have Batswana in this profession.

While there are many Batswana who are accountants, less are chartered accountants. There must be deliberate steps to wrestle the profession from foreigners by making citizens to be chartered.  It is also important to strengthen the Auditor General. The office is created by the constitution.

The security of tenure is clearly secured in the constitution. However, this security of tenure was undermined by the appointing authority in many instances whereby the Auditor General was appointed on a short-term contract. The office is part of the civil service and is not independent at all.

The Auditor General is placed, in terms of scale, at Permanent Secretary level and is looked at as a peer by others who think they can’t be instructed by their equivalent to comply. Some have failed to submit books of accounts for audits, e.g. for special funds without fear or respect of the office. There is need to relook this office by making it more independent and place it higher than Permanent Secretaries.

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