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Marduk Takes Harran!

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

   

A cunning Jehovah sets snare for the popular Enkite god

Besides a clutch of grandiose religious works, Ur-Nammu instituted a new moral revival. Mankind was called upon to turn away from evil ways to a course of righteousness according to a newly promulgated code of justice and social   behaviour. The Code of Laws was a list of do’s and don’ts. According to the Code, “the orphan did not fall prey to the wealthy, the widow did not fall prey to the powerful, the man with one sheep was not delivered to the man with one ox”, etc.

In time, Ur-Nammu would be highly spoken of by posterity for having ensured that justice was restored in the land of Sumer. He was said to have “established equity in the land, banished malediction, ended violence and strife". Ur-Nammu also registered great feats in the field of commerce and industry.  Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “The inscriptions, the monuments, and the archaeological evidence attest that Ur-Nammu’s reign, which began in 2113 BC, witnessed extensive public works, restoration of river navigation, and the rebuilding and protection of the country’s highways.

He made the highways run from the lower lands to the upper lands, an inscription stated. Greater trade and commerce followed. There was a surge in arts, crafts, schools, and other improvements in social and economic life, including the introduction of more accurate weights and measures. Treaties with neighbouring rulers to the east and northeast spread the prosperity and well-being.”

Yet it is a mystery why Ur-Nammu, the “Joy of Ur” as his name meant and who was such an accomplished leader, was made to perish in so tragic a manner by the gods. It so happened that whilst he was on a campaign against the so-called “sinning cities” or “rebel lands” (places bordering the Mediterranean that were spiritedly pro-Marduk and his son Nabu) in 2096 BC, his chariot got stuck in the mud in the midst of a raging battle.

“Ur-Nammu fell off it, but the chariot like a storm rushed along, leaving the king behind, abandoned like a crushed jug,”say the Sumerian chronicles. “The tragedy was compounded when the boat returning Ur-Nammu’s body to Sumer in an unknown place sunk. Then the waves sank it down, with him on board.”    Not only was Ur-Nammu crushed to death by the wheels of his own chariot but there wasn’t even a body to bury. 

Upon learning of the devastating  news, the people of Ur where convulsed with sorrow, disbelief, and outrage. They vented against the gods, who they blamed for having deliberately set a snare for their beloved king. In particular, they laid the blame on King Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”; Enlil; Nannar-Sin; Utu-Shamash; and Inanna-Ishtar.

“How did it happen that the Lord Nannar did not hold Ur-Nammu by the hand?" they wondered aloud. “Why did Inanna not put her noble arm around his head?  Why did Utu not assist him? Why did Anu alter his holy word? Why did Enlil deceitfully changed his fate-decree?” I am sure you will now appreciate why the mass of mankind were pro-Marduk:  the Enlilites were so crafty and so callous.  They just were not trustworthy as they were liable to sacrifice their most loyal man for very obscure ends.  

ANUNNAKI’S GREATEST SEDUCTRESS BAGS UR-NAMMU’S HEIR

In the same year Ur-Nammu died, there were two pivotal developments in Sumer. First, the successor to Ur-Nammu was installed. Second and even much more significant, Terah and his family moved from Ur to Harran. The new king of Sumer was Shulgi. Shulgi had been specially conceived to take over from Ur-Nammu under an arrangement masterminded by Nannar-Sin.  Whereas his father was indeed Ur-Nammu, his mother was a high priestess of Enlil at the Ekur, Enlil’s temple-home in Nippur.

A high priestess was known as an Entu and to be an Entu, one had to be a daughter of a king. Thus Shulgi not only was of royal pedigree but he also was a demigod. Having been born at the Ekur, Shulgi called himself “a Little Enlil”. By the same token, Shulgi referred to Ningal, Sin’s wife, as his mother and to Utu-Shamash, Sin’s son, as his brother, not in a literal sense but to underline his demigod status and his closeness, familywise, to Anunnaki royalty.  The woman who brought him up was not even Ningal: it was Ninsun, Enki’s daughter with stepsister Ninmah. 

Shulgi was big, handsome, and breathtakingly impressive in the groin department. And since he had long been earmarked as a future king, it  didn’t take long before he began to catch the amatory attentions of the Anunnaki Super Vixen and Super Opportunist, Inanna-Ishtar. Inanna had long earmarked Shulgi as “a man chosen for the vulva of Inanna" and shortly after the death of Ur-Nammu and following Shulgi’s enthronement, she invited him to her Eanna temple in Uruk and there shagged him like the world was about to come to an end.

This is Shulgi himself in his own words: “With valiant Utu, a friend as a brother, I drank strong drink in the temple (the Eanna) founded by Anu. My minstrels sang for me the seven songs of love. Inanna, the queen, the vulva of heaven and earth, was by my side, banqueting in the temple.”

The following year, in 2095 BC, Shulgi and Inanna entered into holy matrimony as husband and wife. This was a terrible mistake by Shulgi given Enlil’s virulent loathing of his own granddaughter. What it meant was that any slightest transgression against Enlil could cost Shulgi the throne and possibly his own life. 

MARDUK SETS HIS SITES ON SPACE-RELATED FACILITIES

In 2096 BC, Abraham was 27 years old.  At almost 30 years old,  he was a full-grown man. After Shulgi was installed as the new king of Sumer in that very year, Abraham, Terah, and young Lot moved from Ur and settled in Harran. What necessitated this operation?
The intention  was to counter Marduk. Marduk had indicated that he was going to step up his campaign efforts (for ascendancy to Enlilship) in Sumer, beginning  with the city of Harran, which was the major entry point to Sumer-Akkad when one was coming from Europe.  

Upon the death of Ur-Nammu, Nabu, Marduk’s heir, had upped the ante in his anti-Enlil propagandistic pitch. “The Enlilite gods deserted you,” he  bellowed non-stop from Sinai to the cities and islands of the Eastern Mediterranean.  “They hid from you that Nibiru’s almost here.  Soon shines the home planet of the gods upon Earth in the Age of the Ram – Marduk’s constellation.  Welcome the Era of Marduk the Redeemer, who shall conquer Sumer & Akkad, rule Elamites, Hittites and the whole world.  Nibiru comes, Marduk shall rule.” But  the part about Nibiru’s imminence was pure demagoguery: the planet of the gods was nowhere near although it indeed was scheduled to appear sometime in the Age of Aries.

In their quest for terrestrial supremacy, Marduk and Nabu’s prize target was Tilmun, the spaceport in the Sinai Peninsula as they well knew that with Tilmun in the hands of the Enlilites, Enkite hegemony would be a sham. “Marduk's chess move to establish his command post in Harran enabled Nabu to ‘marshal his cities, toward the Great Sea to set his course’,” writes Zechariah Sitchin. “Individual site names reveal that those places included the all-important Landing Place in Lebanon and the Mission Control city of Shalem (alias Jerusalem). And then came Marduk's claim that the Spaceport Region was no longer neutral: it was to be considered a Marduk and Nabu domain.”

“I COME IN PEACE”, PLEADS SHULGI

How did Shulgi fare as the King of Sumer? We know precious much about him from what are so-called Date Formulas, which are royal records of the most salient developments during his reign. A prolific writer, Shulgi himself made elaborate inscriptions in the Date Formulas, which included   poetry and love songs.

According to the Date Formulas, Shulgi began as a man of peace. At the very  outset of his reign, he sent peace feelers to outlying Sumerian states and the so-called “sinning cities” in Canaan, offering trade, peace, and royal intermarriages with his beautiful daughters. Resultantly, when his eldest daughter married the viceroy of the southeastern state of Elam, he gave him the city of Larsa as dowry in accordance with the connubial code of the day whereby dowry was paid by the groom and not the bride – a practice that endures to date in some countries such as India.

In order to ingratiate himself with the gods, Shulgi first built a temple dedicated to Ninurta and declared Ur and Nippur as “Brotherly Cities”, a gesture that obviously inspired today’s idea of “sister cities”, and had a ship constructed which he dedicated to  Ninli, Enlil’s spouse.  Fancying himself as a modern Gilgamesh, he undertook a pilgrimage to Canaan and the Sinai Peninsula and there built altars to Utu-Shamash, Nannar-Sin, and Ninmah, though he did not set foot on the space facilities themselves as he regarded them as “sacred ground”. During his peregrinations, he vociferously campaigned for Enlil against Marduk and sought to strengthen imperial bonds with other nations.

By the time he returned to Sumer after an absence of 7 years, Shulgi had been to the three space-related sites – the Sinai Peninsula, the “Place of Bright Oracles”, what we call Jerusalem today, which was the Mission Control Centre, and the Landing Place in Lebanon.   One of the first things he did upon his return was to build a temple to Nannar-Sin in the sacred precincts of Nippur, just as he had done for Ninurta. In recognition of this gesture, Sin gave him the titles of “High Priest of Anu” and “Priest of Nannar”. Next, Shulgi built a road network that not only improved logistics both militarily and politically in his empire but further facilitated trade and boosted economic prosperity.
    
FROM MAN OF PEACE TO MAN OF WAR

As King, Shulgi was on balance neglectful of the affairs of empire and in that Inanna was his greatest undoing. He revelled in lavish living and sexual binges, becoming a man of banquets and orgies in Inanna’s temple. In the self-laudatory hymns and canticles he wrote copiously, he repeatedly bragged that “beloved Inanna granted me her vulva in her temple” and that he was on first-name terms with the god Utu-Shamash.

His provinces were largely left to the presidency of what he called “Grand Emissaries”, who did not shrink from replicating his bling-bling lifestyle at the expense of keeping vigil over matters of military preparedness. As he got fixated on personal pleasures and the luxuries of Ur, unrest in the Canaanite cities began to fester yet again. Nabu was stirring them relentlessly. After enjoying a long period of peace and having been diverted by hedonistic indulgencies, Shulgi had allowed his regular army to go into a limbo.

In 2055 BC, his 41st year, he received an oracle from the god Sin, instructing him to set out to quell the “rebellion in the sinning cities” of Canaan. In his 37th year, Shulgi had entered into a peace treaty with a powerful king along the Mediterranean seaboard but that had now come apart at the seams.

Caught practically unawares, Shulgi reached out to his son-in-law, the viceroy of the province of Elam, who was in command of the formidable Elamite troops who had been trained by Ninurta, the Anunnaki’s god of war.  The viceroy acceded to his requested use of the Elamite troops as his Foreign Legion. 

The mighty Elamite troops did overrun the Canaanite provinces, venturing as far as the gateway to the spaceport at Tilmun. Their handsome and charismatic commander had been humped by the lecherous Inanna in a special send-off into battle and as he led his troops, he made them chant, “Favourite of the God Who Judges (Utu-Shamash), Beloved of Inanna”. The campaign lasted two years and to tell from his inscriptions Shulgi proclaimed victory, claiming, like Sargon before him,  that, “I am the Hero, King of Ur, Ruler of the Four Regions", these being Sumer, Egypt, the Indus Valley, and the Sinai Peninsula.

The Elamite army, however, was so trigger-happy that Shulgi, who had been associated with peace for much of his reign, now was characterised as “full of vile and eager for battles”.  Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “Instead of peace, the Elamite troops brought more warfare, and the yearly records of Shulgi's reign speak of repeated destruction in the northern provinces.”
  
MARDUK INVADES ABRAHAM’S CITY

The “sinning”  Canaanite  cities proved to be implacably intransigent. Less than two years after the Elamite armies ran rampage through them, the cities once again erupted into their age-old unrest, rallying to Marduk and Nabu. It seemed the peoples of these cities  were so disaffected with the Enlilites they wanted nothing to do with them whatsoever.

Shulgi now seemed to be at the  end of his tether. At this stage, he was jaded out and he decided Sumer would be his principal concern now and to hell with Canaan. So what does he do? He builds  a defence wall from the Euphrates to the Tigris all the way north  to where Baghdad is today. He called it the “Great West Wall”, obviously the precursor to the Great Wall of China. But the wall  did not sit well  with Enlil,  who was wroth that it  had cut off the heartland of Sumer from the northern provinces of Sumer-Akkad. Worse still, it meant Nabu and his loyalists would now have a field day in Canaan and likely capture  Mission Control Centre in Jerusalem and the all-important spaceport at Tilmun.  

In fact, what Enlil feared was already in evidence. When Marduk, who was based in Egypt, realised that Shulgi had walled off Sumer from the rest of Sumer-Akkad, he wasted no time in invading Harran. The year was 1948 BC.   Harran was both militarily and economically significant being an international trade crossroads as well as a gateway to Sumer-Akkad.

Although this incident is hinted at in the Bible, the Genesis  writers are economical with the truth regarding it. GENESIS 12:1 reads as follows: “Yahweh said to Abraham, Go by yourself from your land, from your kindred, and from your father’s house to the land that I shall show you.”In the Sumerian records, this instruction was given to  Abraham, who was now 75 years old, by Nannar-Sin. Why was Abraham  instructed to depart Sumer by the god Sin? Why didn’t he, Abraham, stand up to Marduk given that he was perhaps the Enlilites' greatest military general  of the day  as we shall soon showcase?

The answer has to do with Enlil’s cunning and shrewdness, which, sadly, the Enkites failed to read.  The Enlilites had decided that Marduk should be assisted to capture Harran. Then once he was in Harran, he should be confined there indefinitely so as to facilitate the Enlilites’ scheme to counter-penetrate and annex the land of Egypt, Marduk’s lawful domain.

Accordingly, in making a reality of this scheme, Ishkur-Adad, Enlil’s last-born  son and who was the god of Hattiland (meaning  “Land of the Hittites”), the location of Harran, pretended to have  broken ranks with his fellow  Enlilites and entered into an ostensible alliance with Marduk. It were the Hittites, Adad’s subjects, who helped Marduk seize Harran.  
 
JEHOVAH COMMISSIONS ABRAHAM TO SEIZE EGYPT

After Marduk’s baited invasion of Harran, Enlil went to work immediately.  The following is how he set about effecting his new stratagem. First, Nannar-Sin was to relocate from Ur to Canaan, to be the resident god of the region overall. The turbulent politics of the region needed his presence there. Being the most favourite Enlilite god in the eyes of mankind, and having been born on Earth,  Sin would make for a very saleable counter against Marduk.  

Second, Terah, who was now 148 years, was appointed Priest-King, or Melchizedek, of Jerusalem. He was to bring about a pro-Enlil religious revival in Jerusalem and the surrounding area (which in future would come to be known as Judah or Judea) and ensure that the forces of Nabu did not lay siege to the city, which house Mission Control Centre. When HEBREWS 5:10 talks of Jesus being appointed High-Priest (and consequently Priest-King since he was the bloodline  royal descendant of King David) “after the order of Melchizdedek”, it is Terah who is being referred to here.   

Third, Abraham was given a new and urgent assignment. He was to spirit himself into northern Egypt, mobilise the Hykso population there (Hebrews who had been strategically been brought into the country from India to eventually take political control of it), trigger an uprising, and annex the region from the rest of Egypt. The intention was to create a buffer state that would safeguard the spaceport in the Sinai as northern Egypt shared a border with the whole of the Sinai Peninsula. That way, there would  be no incursions into Canaan launched from  Egypt by Marduk’s forces.   

Meanwhile, in what was typical of Enlil’s modus operandi, Shulgi was to be the scapegoat for Marduk’s “invasion” of Harran. He was condemned to die the “death of a sinner”. Sinner in this context meant an enemy of Enlil, akin to the rebellious Canaanites. The concocted indictment against Shulgi was that he had   connived with Marduk given the “ease”with which he took Harran.  Shulgi had “prostituted himself”  with Enkites and “did that which was evil in the view of the Lord".

Yet in truth, it was his association with Inanna that was Shulgi’s greatest sin against Enlil: from the day he hitched Inanna, he was a marked man. No one held a grudge like Jehovah. Did Abraham have the military wherewithal to advance on northern Egypt? And who would succeed the tactfully liquidated Shulgi? 

NEXT WEEK: THE EXPLOITS OF ABRAHAM

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Internet Connectivity in Botswana: Time to Narrow Digital Divide

19th October 2020
Elon Musk

On Friday October 9, 2020, President Masisi officiated at a function that most appositely spoke to his passion and desire to kick-start the crystallisation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR in short, in Botswana. In his keynote speech, the President hailed the partnership between Gaborone City Council and BoFiNet to launch free Internet access of one-hour duration daily in selected “Wi-Fi Hotspots” across the city for all and sundry.

The pilot project has actually been years in the making, having been initiated in April 2014, when the BOCRA-supported Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) was established. UASF levies 1 percent on the gross annual turnover of flourishing ICT outfits and is now using this to subsidise the Internet access price in the Hotspots of Gaborone, which are to be found at shopping malls, bus stations, hospitals, and airports in the main. The facility, which is provided courtesy of the BoFiNet Wi-Fi infrastructure, will in the fullness of time be rolled out in Kasane, Maun, Francistown, Palapye, Serowe, and Mahalapye too. As of the end of 2019, UASF collections totalled P43.2 million according to BOCRA’s latest Annual Report.

A point President Masisi underscored at the launch was the imperative that “all citizens have access to the Internet so that the ideal of leaving no one behind as envisioned by the sustainable development goals is realised”. It also exhilarated me that the President underlined that “innovation and creativity will be the bedrock of economic diversification in our country”, a priority I besought government to pursue with impassioned as opposed to rhetorical resolve in one of my earlier articles under this very column.

Certainly, Pillars 1 and 2 of the only minimally accomplished Vision 2016 goals envisaged, amongst other things, an informed and innovative Botswana. With the Wi-Fi Hotspot dispensation now upon us, are we on course to deliver on this sooner rather than later?

FREE INTERNET COULD FULFIL MEGA DREAMS FOR THE CITIZENRY

Granted, one hour of free Internet per day is not that bad as a starting point, but it is a drop in the ocean when juxtaposed with the larger global picture, whereby some countries, which include the industrialised West, the Scandinavian countries, and the Baltic states of Lithuania and Estonia, offer qualitative public Internet service free of charge all-day long. In Finland for one, broadband (high-speed Internet access) has been a legal right since 2010. In other words, if a citizen for one reason or the other does not have the opportunity to surf the web, he or she can sue the state for redress.

For the impecunious individual who wishes to do meaningful and comprehensive research, however, one hour can be very limiting. To just give one example, it takes me up to two full days to gather material for a single one instalment of the contents of this column, of which Internet-sourced data is key. This is because not every bit of worthwhile information is available at just one click of the mouse. In some cases, the requisite information is simply not available at all and by the time that dawns on you, a full day will have gone by.

There is also the question of whether the Hotspots are amply equipped with desktops, let along being sizeable enough, to cater to the stampede of the city residents who will want to be one of the earliest birds to catch the worm given that access is certain to be on a first-come-first-served basis. An Internet Hall under the auspices of government would serve the purpose best, with the unused Orapa House as a possible venue proposition.

As for nationwide and limitless free Internet access, we still have a long way to go being a Third World country but the earlier we get there, the greater the rewards we reap in the long-term. Google, Facebook, Twitter, to mention only a few, are today multi-billion operations thanks to the added benediction of the Internet epoch. Years back, Elon Musk and five others started PayPal – a means of sending money, making an online payment, and receiving money – using the Internet medium. In 2002, E-Bay acquired PayPal for an eye-popping $1.5 billon, with Musk personally garnering $165 million. As I write, Musk is the 6th richest person on Earth, with a net worth of $82.3 billion.

It is the ready platform of the Internet that helped catapult him to the dizzying pecuniary heights he has since scaled.  We will probably never be able to mint a dot.com-facilitated dollar billionaire in Botswana, but even mere Pula millionaires or part-millionaires can do as half a loaf is better than nothing. If Internet was freely available to every citizen, such chances would be greatly enhanced.

WE LIVE OUR LIVES ONLINE

In the past, Internet connectivity may have been a luxury but the advent of COVID-19 has made it an essential component of the new normal – a lifeline. Students have had to receive lessons online amid stop-go lockdowns of huge swathes of a country. Executives have had no option but to network or collectively liaise using teleconferencing or by way of Skype. Telemedicine, or caring for and consulting with patients remotely, has become the order of the day, especially in the developed world. We have seen live-streamed religious services and of course some people have been working from home.

Even before COVID-19 struck, we were routinely conversationally engaging with family and friends on social media platforms such as Facebook and Whatsapp. Some of our monthly transactions, like telephone bill settlements and DStv subscriptions, were effected online. Needless to say, we have literally been living our lives online. Electronic transacting in any case, whether by mobile phones or via the web, substantially curtail queuing time at banks and precious other pay points anywhere, gets people to spend more time in the workplace than out of it, and therefore boosts productivity as personal errands to do a thing or two are notorious for eating into invaluable man-hours.

There’s also government’s espoused vision of having Botswana transformed into a knowledge-based economy. Without universal access to the Internet, this aspiration will remain a pipe-dream. Knowledge certainly is power, whether this be political, economic, or scientific. Botswana will never come to be anywhere near the economic might of Singapore or the technological feats of South Korea if it relegates knowledge attainment to the back burner of its core aspirations. An Old Testament prophet was spot-on when speaking on behalf of his god Yahweh lamented that “my children perish for lack of knowledge”, HOSEA 4:6.

The paradox is that the digital divide both on the continent of Africa and in Botswana is as glaring as ever. Only four out of ten people in Africa have Internet access and according to the global business data platform Statista, which has insights and facts about 170 industries and more than 150 countries, Botswana has an Internet penetration of only 47.5 percent. It lags 20 other countries on the continent, who include Kenya (the continental leader at 87.5 percent); Mauritius (67 percent); Nigeria (61.2 percent); Swaziland (57.3 percent); Zimbabwe (56.5 percent); South Africa (55 percent); and Zambia (53.7 percent).

A study by the Mc Kinsey Global Institute postulates that if Internet use proliferates in Africa at the rate mobile phones did in the early 2000s, the continent stands to add as much as $300 billion to its economic growth by 2025. The World Bank also says achieving universal, affordable, and good quality Internet access in Africa by 2030 will require an investment of $100 billion. In Botswana, the National Broadband Strategy (NBS) aims to achieve universal broadband by 2023. It is aligned to BOCRA’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, whose main goal is to deliver the NBS aims at an affordable price tab. Is the time frame realistic?

THE PRICE OF AN ARM AND A LEG!

For universal Internet access to be tenable, first both the access and the medium of access have to be affordable to every literate person out there. Sadly in Botswana, smart phones, which allow for Internet access anywhere where there is a cellular network, do not come cheap. The asking price at the very least is upwards of a thousand Pula. That is a prohibitive price for the greater majority of our population who struggle to eke out a living just to keep body and soul together. The likes of BOCRA and BoFiNet should help out here by subsidising the price of these devices, at least for a period of time till economies of scale result in a natural reduction of the price.

As for the going price of Internet access in Botswana presently, a study of 228 countries earlier this year by cable.co.uk found that Botswana was among the 14 most expensive countries in this regard. I can attest to this myself as I have to fork out a minimum of about P400 a month to enable me the use of the Internet without any hiccup save for the sporadic network downage or the now endemic power outages. To many a people, P400 a month amounts to the proverbial cost of an arm and a leg as it constitutes a substantial proportion of average monthly income. In countries such as Egypt and Mauritius, one can have Internet use every day of the week at any time of the day for only 0.5 percent and 0.59 percent of average monthly income.

In a bid to ameliorate the prohibitive Internet access price in our country, the University of Botswana was forced to shell out a whopping P7.8 million to provide the student populace with free SIM cards to enable them download teaching material under the restrictive COVID-19 climate. Botho University also entered into an arrangement with Orange whereby their students could have online access to learning materials and teaching instruction at only P2 a day, P10 a week, or P30 a month, though data was capped at 200 megabytes a day. Both these initiatives by two of the country’s premier institutions of higher education must be lauded.

If the cost of mobile broadband data has to organically come down drastically, it is essential that we move from a consolidated market – the triopoly of Mascom (with 51 percent market dominance), Orange (34 percent), and Be-Mobile (15 percent) we have in Botswana – to a multi-operator market. In its latest annual report, BOCRA reports that in 2018, the three operators had combined revenues of P4.4 billion and combined profits of P826 million. One wonders why this rather brisk bottom line does not translate to a proportionate paring down of the consumer price or does it have to do with the fact that the operators’ greed knows no bounds?

BOTSWANA NEAR TAIL-END OF GLOBAL BROADBAND SPEED LEAGUE

If the truth may be told, Internet speed in Botswana is no longer as glacially slow as it was a year or two back. That does not mean it is lightning swift. In fact, it is among the slowest both on the globe and on the African continent.  At the download average of 1.92 megabytes per second (mbps), Botswana ranks 165th in the world and is 22nd in Africa according to statistics furnished by cable.co.uk. Our case is all the more stigmatic as we trail even comparatively poorer countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Sudan.

Taiwan has the fastest Internet in the world at 85.02 mbps, followed by Singapore at 70.86 mbps. Whereas it would take 22 hours for one to download a 5 gigabyte movie in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, the worst-ranked African country, and 6 hours for Botswana, it would take only 8 minutes in Taiwan.  In Africa, it is not South Africa (8.4 mbps, 75th in the world), the wealthiest country, which leads the pack. It is Madagascar at 22.57 mbps (33rd globally). This is one of the poorest countries on Earth, with four out of every four citizens living on less than $2 a day.

Botswana in fact is way below the minimum speed of 10 mbps required for consumers to fully participate in a digital society according to tech experts. I need not emphasise that time is money. It is time BOCRA and BoFiNet saw to it that we pulled up our socks in broadband speed to serve on trawling time. Regrettably, in Botswana things move very slowly and it will probably be another ten years or so before we come to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Madagascar. As for ever catching up with Taiwan, well, the less said the better.

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The Babylonian Captivity Ploy

19th October 2020

Nebuchadnezzar has the Jews exiled to his own domain to sabotage Jerusalem’s prospects of hosting King Anu, “Our Heavenly Father”

In 590 BC, General Atiku, King Zedekiah decided he would no longer be the puppet of Babylon. Just like Nebuchadnezzar, he wanted to be in full and unmitigated control of the Holy City in the event King Anu pitched. But he was under no illusion he could throw off the yoke of Babylon singlehandedly. So in the fourth year of his reign he – once again against the advice of the far-sighted prophet Jeremiah – joined a coalition that was being formed by Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon resist Nebuchadnezzar.

Upon getting wind of the rumours of this scheme, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Zedekiah to Babylon to administer to him a warn and caution statement but it seemed he took no heed. The following year, Nebuchadnezzar decided to pounce: he captured all the cities of Judah except three, one of which was Jerusalem and which he proceeded to besiege for the third time.

Finding himself in dire straits, General, Zedekiah made an alliance with Pharaoh Apries of Egypt and indeed the latter rushed to reinforce him. In the ensuing lull in hostilities, Nebuchadnezzar pulled a stunt by lifting the siege and Apries withdrew. No sooner had Apries done so than Nebuchadnezzar hemmed in on Jerusalem once again: Zedekiah was on his own. Jerusalem was under siege from January 587 to July 586 BC. The following, General, are the circumstances and aftermath of the siege according to one chronicler:

“Conditions in the city became increasingly desperate. Although the people had had time to prepare, their food supplies eventually began to run out. Cannibalism became a grim reality. Despite Jeremiah’s counsel to surrender, the King refused to do so and just as the last of the food in the city was exhausted the Babylonians broke through the wall.

“Zedekiah fled with remains of his army, but was overtaken and captured near Jericho. From there, he was brought before Nebuchadnezzar at his field headquarters at Riblah, his sons were executed in front of him, and he was blinded. From there, he was taken in chains to Babylon. The key members of his cabinet were executed before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah shortly afterwards.

“A large part of the population of Jerusalem was put to the sword and everything of value plundered. The bronze articles from the Temple were cut up and removed and the building together with the palace and the important houses were set on fire.  “In order to ensure that the city would never rebel against him again, Nebuzaradan, the commander of the Imperial Guard, ordered that the walls be demolished. All who survived in the city were carried off into exile in Babylon, with the exception of the very poor of the land.

The starving population exchanged whatever riches they had left for food, its leadership and priesthood were gone and the Temple burnt. The Babylonians soldiers oppressed the survivors and forced them to work for their food.” The remnant of poor people that were spared, General, were meant to serve as farmers and wine dressers. These people had previously been landless peasants and presented the least risk to the Babylonians, but were required to work the land to prevent the fields falling into disuse.

WOULD KING ANU CONDONE NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S ACT?

Nebuchadnezzar was not the first King to deport a people from their own country, General. The pace was actually set by the Assyrian King Adad Nirari I (c. 1307-1275 BC), who thought the best way to prevent any future uprising was to remove the occupants of the land and replace them with Assyrians. But Nebuchadnezzar, General, had an ulterior motive for the deportations, which only the “Illuminati” of the day were privy to. He wanted to make Jerusalem desolate and decrepit so that when King Anu arrived, he would avoid it like the plague and instead focus on the glittering Babylon.

His aim was to kill off entirely the competition posed by Jerusalem. Says Zechariah Sitchin: “The expectation, it seems, was that the arriving god (Anu) of the Winged Disk (symbol for planet Nibiru) would come down at the Landing Place (Baalbek) in Lebanon, then consummate the Return by entering Babylon through the new marvelous Processional Way and imposing Ishtar Gate.”  But in the event that he indeed pitched, would the pro-Enlilite Anu take kindly to being deflected to a city (Babylon) other than Jerusalem when it had been specifically designated for his ultimate hosting on the planet by virtue of its geometrical centrality?

Having taken over Nippur’s prediluvial role to serve as Mission Control Center after the Deluge, Jerusalem was located at the center of concentric distances to the other space-related sites. Aptly calling it the “Navel of the Earth” (EZEKIEL 38:12), the prophet Ezekiel had announced that Jerusalem had been chosen for this role by God himself. “Thus has said the Lord Yahweh: ‘This is Jerusalem; in the midst of the nations I placed her, and all the lands are in a circle round about her,” EZEKIEL 5:5. “Determined to usurp that role for Babylon,” Sitchin further notes, “Nebuchadnezzar led his troops to the elusive prize and in 598 BC captured Jerusalem.”

CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE EXILE SITUATION

Altogether, General, the Babylonian captivity – the deportation of the Nation of Israel to Babylon – spanned 70 years counting from the first deportation of 598/597 BC.  Meanwhile, Judah was renamed Yehud Province by the Babylonians and a puppet Jewish governor was appointed to administer it. (The post of King was abolished, making Zedekiah [reign: 597-586 BC] the last substantive linear King of the Jews.) His name was Gedalia, whose father had been an advisor to King Josiah (reign: 640-609 BC).

Gedalia set up his capital not in Jerusalem but in Mizpah. That, plus the fact that he didn’t have a drop of Davidic blood in him, made him a marked man to Jewish nationalists and traditionalists from the word go. Not long after his appointment, Gedalia was assassinated by a family member of the deposed king Zedekiah. From that point on, General, no Jewish governor was installed until after the end of the Babylonian captivity.

Exactly what were the circumstances of the deportees, General? The image that immediately comes to mind is that of a concentration camp kind of setting reminiscent of the Jewish people’s fate at the hands of Nazi Germany. That, General, is a gross misconception. In Babylon, the Jews enjoyed every privilege, including citizenship if they so desired. They were not enslaved or in bondage of any kind. Their own individual abilities were even tapped into to help advance Babylon in one way or the other.

Reading PSALM 137:1–2, the surface impression one gets, General, is that the Jews in Babylon were beset by a most disagreeable set of circumstances. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we thought of Zion (Jerusalem). There on the poplars we hung up our lyres.” Well, that was pure nostalgia, which is a natural impulse when a people have been displaced, General. A notable historian presents to us the more accurate picture in the following words:

“The deportees, their labour and their abilities, were extremely valuable to the Babylonian state, and their relocation was carefully planned and organised. We must not imagine treks of destitute fugitives who were easy prey for famine and disease: the deportees were meant to travel as comfortably and safely as possible in order to reach their destination in good physical shape.

Whenever deportations are depicted in Babylonian imperial art, men, women and children are shown travelling in groups, often riding on vehicles or animals and never in bonds … Deportees were carefully chosen for their abilities and sent to regions which could make the most of their talents. Not everyone in the conquered populace was chosen for deportation and families were never separated. Those segments of the population that had actively resisted the Babylonians were killed or sold into slavery, but the general populaces became absorbed into the growing empire and were thought of as Babylonians.”

Another historian has this to say, General: “It is assumed that the Jews had to render labour to the Babylonians, but generally they enjoyed a great deal of freedom. Some of the exiles, like Daniel and his three friends, rose to positions of power within the Royal Court of Babylon and many others became wealthy. Later, during the Persian period Jews like Mordecai, Esther, and Nehemiah all found themselves in key positions in the government and were able to act on behalf of their people because they took Jeremiah’s advice.” Indeed, General, Nehemiah rose to become the cup-bearer of the King, that is, the King’s most trusted official.

The King-in-exile himself, Jeconiah, enjoyed particularly special privilleges both when he was in prison and after his release. Captive kings and high-ranking officials received monthly rations of grain and oil. Archaeological evidence recovered from the Royal palace in Babylon provides support for Jeconiah’s presence there and lists the daily rations set aside for him and the members of his family.

The Bible itself, General, does not shy away from underscoring Jeconiah’s privileged status in Babylon as highlighted in JEREMIAH 52:31-34 thus: “In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jeconiah King of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became King of Babylon, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, he released Jeconiah King of Judah and freed him from prison. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honour higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jeconiah put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the King’s table. Day by day the King of Babylon gave Jeconiah a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death.”

 

JEREMIAH PAINTS SORRY PICTURE OF MARDUK’S FATE

The destruction of Solomon’s Temple by King Nebuchadnezzar, General, was according to the Bible the ultimate blasphemy. Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah under whose auspices the Temple was built, was not in the least bit amused. He straightaway had the prophet Jeremiah step forward and pronounce the comeuppance both on the King and his colossal empire.

Now, biblical prophecies, General, should not be taken at face value. Their fulfillment were documented after the events they purported to foretell had already taken place, not before they happened. Much of the Old Testament corpus was compiled in the 6th century BC, during and after the Babylonian captivity (the Book of Malachi, the last prophet, was written circa 400 BC, and the Book of Daniel was compiled just after 164 BC). So we have to bear that in mind, General, when we read of fulfilled prophecies so that we decide whether to contemplate the story warily or give it the benefit of the doubt.

Jeremiah announced that the destruction of the Temple was going to be avenged by Yahweh (JEREMIAH 50:28). In addition, Adad instructed him to make the following proclamation: “Declare among the nations and proclaim, set up a banner and proclaim, do not conceal it, say: Babylon is taken; withered is Bel; confounded is Merodach … For out of the north a nation has come up against her; it shall make her land a desolation, and no one shall live in it; both human beings and animals shall flee away.” – JEREMIAH 50: 1-3.

Jeremiah, General, made this statement circa 561-60 BC. It can be easily dated because it was in this timespan that Merodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, was on the throne. Jeremiah served notice to the world that Babylon was to be supplanted by a new power from the north, who turned out to be Persia. Jeremiah also spelt out the imminent fate of the Babylonian god Marduk, who was also known as Bel, meaning “The Lord”: he was to “wither”, or cease to be a factor in the affairs of mankind. In the case of Merodach, all Jeremiah said of him was that he was to be “confounded”, that is, so overwhelmed by problems as to lose a sense of focus. One wonders, General, why Jeremiah, if he was the great prophet he was touted to be, didn’t foresee the assassination of Merodach and directly allude to it in his prophecy.

The prophet Daniel says in his waning days, Nebuchadnezzar had his mind taken away and ate grass like an ox. This, General, is a fanciful story which is found only in the Bible and nowhere in the Babylonian annals. “There is no independent support for the tradition in Daniel of Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years’ madness, and the story probably arose from a fanciful later interpretation of texts concerned with events under Nabunaid, who showed apparent eccentricity in deserting Babylon for a decade to live in Arabia,” says Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Meanwhile, did Marduk indeed get to wither, General?

NEXT WEEK: FROM EXILE TO EXIT

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Understanding Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework: Industrial Action

19th October 2020

In Botswana, the Trade Disputes Act, 2016 (“the Act”) provides the framework within which trade disputes are resolved. This framework hinges on four legs, namely mediation, arbitration, industrial action and litigation. In this four-part series, we discuss this framework.

In last week’s article, we discussed the second leg of Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework-arbitration. In this article, we discuss the third leg, namely industrial action.

Industrial action is generally defined as a situation where the employer and employees use their bargaining power to exert pressure on the other to achieve a particular result. It entails such things as strikes and lockouts.  In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, Industrial action means “a strike, lockout or action short of a strike, in furtherance of a trade dispute”.

In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, “a strike means the cessation of work by a body of employees in any trade or industry acting in combination or under a common understanding or a concerted refusal or a refusal under a common understanding by such body of employees to continue work.”

A lock-out is the employees’ equivalent of a strike. In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, a lock-out is defined as “ the closing of a place of employment by an employer in any trade or industry or the suspension of work by such an employer or the refusal by such an employer to continue to employ any number of his or her employees in that trade or industry.”

While on a strike, employees use their numbers to inflict economic pain on the employer by withdrawing their labour, in a lock-out, the employer uses its power by not providing employees with work, thereby inflicting economic harm on them in terms of the ‘no-work, no pay’ principle.
In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, an action short of a strike means “any method of working (other than the method of working commonly known as working to rule) undertaken by a body of employees in any trade or industry acting in combination or under a common understanding, which method of working slows down normal production or the execution of the normal function under their contracts of employment, of the employees undertaking such method of working.”

In terms of section 42(1) (a) of the Act, it is obligatory to refer a dispute of interest for mediation before resorting to a strike or lockout. Also, in terms of section 42(1) (b) of the Act, a party must give the other party a 48-hour notice before the commencement of a strike or lockout. In terms of section 43(1) of the Act, before a strike or lockout commences, the parties have to agree on the rules regulating the action, failing which the mediator must determine the rules in accordance with any guidelines published in terms of section 53 of the Act.

These rules include those concerning the conduct of the strike or lockout and any conduct in contemplation or furtherance of the strike or lockout including picketing and the use of replacement labour. In terms of section 43(2) of the Act, the latter is, however, subject to the provisions of subsection (4) of the Act.

Employers are not allowed to engage replacement labour if the parties have concluded an agreement on the provision of a minimum service. In terms of section 43(3) of the Act, such prohibition also applies if no minimum service agreement is concluded within 14 days of the commencement of the strike or lockout.

In terms of section 43(4) of the Act, a trade union is allowed to picket outside the employer’s premises during a strike or lockout if the parties have concluded an agreement on the provision of a minimum service or if no such agreement is concluded within 14 days of the commencement of the strike or lockout.

The Act prohibits strikes and lockouts that do not comply with the aforesaid provisions or an agreed procedure. The prohibition also applies if the strike or lockout is in breach of a peace clause in a collective labour agreement.

In terms of section 45(1) of the Act, strikes or lockouts are also regarded as unprotected if the subject matter of the strike or lockout is not a trade dispute, is regulated by a collective labour agreement, is a matter that is required by the Act to be referred for arbitration or to the Industrial Court for adjudication, or is a matter that the parties to the dispute of interest have agreed to refer for arbitration.

In terms of section 47 of the Act, employees in essential services are not allowed to take part in a strike. Similarly, employers in essential services are not allowed to take part in a lockout. It is, however, worth noting that, although an essential service employee who engages in a strike commits an offence and is, in terms of section 48(1) of the Act, liable to a fine not exceeding P 2 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both, there is no punishment for an essential service employer who locks out its employees.

In terms of section 48(2) of the Act, the punishment applicable to an essential service employee who engages in a strike, is also applicable for any person who causes, procures, counsels or influences any essential service employee to engage in a strike.

Where there is a trade dispute involving parties in an essential service, it should be reported to the Commissioner by an organisation acting on behalf of the employer, employers or employees. The provisions of section 6(3) apply in respect of a report of the trade dispute made in accordance with section 6 (1).

Where a trade dispute is reported in accordance with that section, it is deemed to have been reported to the Commissioner under section 6. Where there is failure to settle a trade dispute reported to the Commissioner in accordance with section 6 (2) within 30 days from the day on which the trade dispute was reported, the Commissioner may immediately refer the trade dispute to an arbitrator if the dispute is a dispute of interest, except in the case of a collective dispute of interest where the employees are represented by a trade union, or to the Industrial Court if the trade dispute is a dispute of right.

*Ndulamo Anthony Morima, LLM(NWU); LLB(UNISA); DSE(UB); CoP (BAC); CoP (IISA) is the proprietor of Morima Attorneys. He can be contacted at 71410352 or HYPERLINK “mailto:anmorima@gmail.com” anmorima@gmail.com

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