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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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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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