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ISRAELITE RULE IN EGYPT

Jacob’s Ladder

Abrahamic Dynasty reign In Northern Egypt for 500 Years

While General Abraham was busy fending off the Sumerian invaders, General Atiku,  his wife, Queen Seheratawy Intef (Sarah), the Pharaoh of Egypt, was coming under siege.

It seems Abraham had miscalculated, General: the Hykso rule over all Egypt was not secure yet. For in 2040 BC, about a year after Abraham left Egypt, Mentuhotep II, the heir to the deposed Mentuhotep I of southern Egypt, overthrew Sarah in an essentially bloodless coup de tat. It was more of a palace coup than a blood-and-gall ousting.

What most certainly happened, General, was that Mentuhotep II endeared himself to Sarah, her maternal aunt, and before Sarah knew what was cooking, she had been taken down from the pedestal of power. It was back to square one, whereby indigenous Egyptians were again masters of their own political destiny.

But Sarah, General, had balls, pardon the misplaced metaphor. Instead of fleeing Egypt altogether, she held out in northern Egypt amongst the Hyksos to rally her people for a renewed putsch. Meanwhile, General Abraham was on his way over to try and salvage the situation, with a formidable army in tow.

True to his reputation as the greatest military general of his day, he managed to repel Mentuhotep II’s forces from northern Egypt. Yet as mighty as he was, this time Abraham wasn’t able to unseat Mentuhotep II from the Thebes throne. As such, he had no option but to content himself with the repossession only of northern Egypt, which he ruled jointly with his wife at least for the next 24 years.

The Hyksos, later to be known as Israelites, General, were to rule northern Egypt for the next 500 years or so directly, and the whole of Egypt indirectly at some stage thereafter all the way to part of the time of King David as we shall elucidate in the next instalment.

ISAAC AND JACOB WERE EGYPTIAN PHARAOHS

Although the Bible, General, does not expressly state that the biblical patriarchs from Abraham to David were actually pharaohs of northern Egypt, it does furnish some hints when one reads between the lines. The Bible, General, is not a straightforward informational corpus: it is partly and substantially written in code.

It’s a pity that the pulpit men of Christendom are completely clueless as to this fact, as a result of which their interpretation of “scripture” is woefully erroneous. What they say almost completely has no correlation with the underlying and intended message of biblical passages. What a tragicomedy!

Exactly how long Abraham ruled northern Egypt is not certain, General.  But we know that according to Egyptian annals, he was succeeded by Shesi (also known as Salitis), who was in turn succeeded by Pharaoh Yakuber. Shesi was the way the name Isaac (Yishaq in Hebrew) was pronounced in ancient Egypt, though as Pharaoh he was referred to as Pharaoh Mehibre II. The name Isaac had connotations of laughter as per GENESIS 18:15, 21:5-6.

It literally means “will laugh”. It arose, so we’re told, because the notion of Isaac’s mother Sarah conceiving him at age 90 was indeed a laughing matter. That interpretation, sadly, is a concoction General.  Isaac was cause for laughter simply because he was not the biological son of Abraham but that of Pharaoh Mentuhotep I. Properly translated, with the aid of its rendering in some Sumerian-like African languages such as Setswana for instance, Isaac (Itshege) means “laugh at yourself”.

For what? For his illegitimacy. Even the Talmud, the Jewish commentaries and interpretive writings that are looked upon as only second in authority to the Old Testament, state categorically that when born, Isaac did not look like Abraham at all. But since he was the legal heir to Abraham being the eldest son of Abraham’s half-sister-wife, Isaac had the automatic right of accession to Abraham’s throne. That was how he became Pharaoh Shesi.

Abraham was very much aware of Isaac’s illegitimacy but he could not disown him for fear of losing the much-needed popularity with indigenous Egyptians who knew the truth about Isaac and cherished him for being at least part-native Egyptian, what we would today call a coloured, as Mentuhotep I was fully black and Sarah was white.

So the only sensible course of action was to legitimise at least Isaac’s offspring. Like all patriarchs of the day, Isaac had several wives. The first was an Egyptian, by whom he had Esau. This, General, is not mentioned in the Bible as that would be revealing too much.

As for Isaac’s second son Jacob, General, Abraham ensured that not only did he have maternal Sumerian blood but Haran’s blood as Haran was the proper heir to Terah. So Abraham contrived for Isaac to travel to Harran, where Terah’s clan was concentrated, and meet Rebecca. Rebecca was the daughter of Betheul.

Betheul in turn was the son of Nahor, Abraham’s younger brother, and Milcah, Haran’s eldest daughter. Thus the ensuing child of Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, was about 75 percent Sumerian and only 25 percent Egyptian. Moreover, with Haran’s blood coursing in Jacob’s veins, that was a potent enough counter punch to Lot’s bone of contention as the rightful successor to Haran and consequently Terah. That’s how clever General Abraham was, General.

It was Jacob who succeeded Isaac under the name Pharaoh Yakubher, General. Yakubher was the Egyptian equivalent of the Hebrew Yaakov. This is Jacob in English. At least four Egyptian scarab seal records attest to the reign of Pharaoh Yakubher in Egypt. In Avaris, the northern Egypt-based Hykso capital, a signet ring was found that read, “Yakov/Yakub”.

Jacob was later named Israel by Enlil-Jehovah. Once again, the Bible is silent as to the reason why: it simply said he was given the name after “wrestling with God” (GENESIS 32:22-32). What could have happened was that Israel – I-Sira-El, meaning “God’s Shield – was his given name when he was born.

The name was meant to rhyme with I-Sira-El, the ancient Hebrew name of northern Egypt, which was intended to serve as a buffer between Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, where the all-important spaceport was located. But as Pharaoh, Israel adopted the name Yakuber, which name totally eclipsed Israel.

It is indeed telling, General, that although according to the Bible the name Israel was given to Jacob when he was an adult, it did not stick at all: he is still referred to as Jacob throughout the remainder of his life. Clearly, General, the name Jacob took pride of place because it was a throne name and not an original name.

JACOB JETS OFF TO PLANET NIBIRU

Jacob, General, reigned as Pharaoh Yakuber twice. His first tenure was interrupted by none other than he himself. Jacob had noticed that the lifespans of elite Earthlings – those who were of dynastic stock and therefore had a greater proportion of Anunnaki blood in them – were reducing largely due to intermarriages with ordinary Earthlings. He had also noted that the Anunnaki themselves were basically evergreen: although they did age, they did so rather glacially slowly and basically imperceptibly.

Troubled by such worries, Jacob, General, began to pester his god Enlil for a trip to Nibiru, the Heaven of the Bible. In doing this, he was unremitting: he supplicated, interceded, fasted. Jacob was aware that all Earthlings who had travelled to Nibiru before him, notably Adapa and Enoch, came back rejuvenated: it was like during the time they were away, for between 1800 to 3600 years, time had stood still for them.

Jacob wanted to undergo the same rejuvenation process. Jacob’s obsession with travelling to Nibiru was such that he kept dreaming about a spaceship with angels (the Anunnaki) reaching out to him to get him on-board as hinted at in GENESIS 28:10-22.

Initially, General, Enlil was reluctant. He didn’t even want to grant Jacob an audience. But through the intermediation of the likes of Nannar-Sin and Utu-Shamash, Jacob finally got to meet Enlil to personally present his case. The two met at a place known as Penuel, meaning “Facing God”.

It was not a chance meeting as Genesis would have us believe General: it was pre-arranged. No one met a god informally or in impromptu circumstances. Jacob referred to his petition to Enlil as a blessing in that a stint on Nibiru would bless him with a longer life. The incident is narrated in GENESIS 32:22-32, with some rather dramatic embellishments.

Enlil was impressed by Jacob’s tenacity and at long last caved in. Jacob, General, had figuratively speaking “wrestled with God” in order to get what he wanted. Thus it was that on an appointed day, Jacob at long last boarded a spaceship at the spaceport at Tilmun in the Sinai Peninsula and was off to Nibiru.

From that time onwards, General, a spaceship became known as Jacob’s Ladder and the planet Nibiru acquired an alternative name – the Star of Jacob. But did Jacob blast off to Nibiru alone or was accompanied by other fellow Earthlings, General?

JACOB WENT TO NIBIRU WITH FAMILY!

Who held fort for Jacob whilst he was visiting the planet of the gods, General?

According to Egyptian records, General, Pharaoh Yakuber was succeeded by Pharaoh Apepi I. Since a King was always succeeded by his firstborn son with the seniormost wife, and new kings typically used a throne name different from their given name, Pharaoh Apepi I was arguably Reuben, Jacob’s eldest son with his seniormost wife Leah (theoretically speaking, that is, as Rachel, Leah’s younger sister and Jacob’s second wife, would in fact have been Jacob’s first wife had Laban, the two ladies’ father, not tricked him into hitching Leah first).

Exactly when did Jacob become Pharaoh of northern Egypt, General? When did he leave for Nibiru and for how long was he there? That, sadly, cannot be established for certain. Even the regnal periods that are indicated by the otherwise authoritative online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, are all speculative: there’s no single, incontrovertible source on the subject.

With regard to Jacob, Wikipedia itself candidly admits that “it is difficult to date his reign precisely and even the dynasty to which he belonged is uncertain”. The ancient historian Manetho, General, informs us that the Hyksos ruled Egypt for a period of 511 years. If Abraham first captured northern Egypt in 2047, then the Hykso rule ended sometime in 1530 BC.

Abraham was 175 years old when he died. Since he was born in 2123 BC, that makes the year 1948 BC the year of his death. Isaac was born during Abraham’s first 7 years in Egypt. We can tentatively place his birth in 2045 BC. He is said to have lived for 180 years, meaning he died in 1865 BC.

But we don’t know exactly when Abraham handed over to Isaac nor when Isaac handed over to Jacob, General. It was not always that kings died in office: sometimes they simply abdicated and passed the baton to their heirs for one reason or the other.

On his part, Jacob was born in 1963 BC. If, for argument’s sake, he ascended to the throne at his father’s death, he must have been just under 100 years. It explains, General, why he would have wanted to travel to Nibiru – to arrest the pace of his age so that he could enjoy a much lengthier life in power.

At the time the Hyksos were expelled from Egypt, Jacob was alive. This was circa 1530 BC, meaning Jacob was over 400 years old. Equally intriguing is the fact that even his older kids – Simeon, Levi, Judah – were all alive and must have been 300 years-plus. These ages simply were not tenable at the time: lifespans had been progressively reducing since the time of Adapa, so that King David lived for only 70 years.

So what can we deduce from these unseemly ages of the Jacobite clan during a phase of time when lifespans were dwindling, General? Simple: Jacob travelled to Nibiru with members of his family! The only one of his kids who remained was Reuben as his role as Pharaoh was crucial. Indeed, when, General, you read the Bible, you will find that Reuben is not dwelt upon in any appreciable detail: his profile seemed to have been eclipsed by those of his younger brothers, notably Simeon, Levi, Judah, and Joseph. This is because by the time his younger brothers returned from Nibiru and as young men still, Reuben was long dead and even had several generations of grandchildren. That’s why the names of the pharaohs who succeeded him (about 24 in total) sound very unfamiliar.

JACOB’S SONS LIQUIDATE SOUTHERN PHARAOH

Jacob and his kids were not away from Earth for very long, General: in Earthly terms, they were not gone for more than 300 years probably. From the same Egyptian annals, General, we can deduce quite conclusively that Jacob re-assumed his throne upon his return.

For toward the end of Hykso rule in Egypt, we see the names Pharaoh Anathar; Pharaoh Yakobaam (Yakuber in other spellings); and Pharaoh Apepi II. Pharaoh Anathar was obviously a descendent of Reuben. Pharaoh Yakobaam was the returned Jacob. Pharaoh Apepi II was of course another descendent of Reuben, whom Jacob handed over to after voluntarily stepping down, most likely due to creeping age.

Jacob’s bequest of the throne to Apepi II was a sticking point, General. Simeon and Levi, who followed immediately after Reuben, were ambitious types. They too wanted to rule. But with the throne of northern Egypt already occupied, their hands were tied. However, there was a tantalising allure down south – the Thebes throne.

Thebes was the capital city of southern Egypt, which at the time was ruled by a black Pharaoh known as Seqenenre Tao II. The two brothers reckoned that if they were to ever have a chance of ruling Egypt, they should hatch a scheme to depose and kill Tao. That way, one of them, Simeon since he was older, would take over as Pharaoh of southern Egypt whilst Apepi would continue to rule northern Egypt.

In the final analysis, it wouldn’t make much of a difference as Egypt would still be ruled by the Hyksos and the clan of Jacob though from two fronts. Simeon and Levi did manage to bring their scheme to fruition, General. They did get at Tao and assassinate him. Exactly how they did that is a matter of speculation as nobody knows for sure how they pulled it off.

There are all sorts of theories, General,  but what we do know for certain is that Tao had a very short reign and his body, which is preserved in the Cairo Museum, had two or three deep and vicious head wounds. He obviously must have been killed at close quarters, either by Simeon and Levi directly (disguised as dignitaries from northern Egypt in the manner their great grandfather Abraham did) or their agent.

HYKSO-ISRAELITES EJECTED FROM EGYPT

Sadly, General, the assassination of Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao II backfired horrendously: the two Jacobite brothers were unable to incite a popular uprising to catapult them to power and so they fled back to northern Egypt after they had done the deed.

In fact, the successor to Tao, his son Kamose, was so furious he vowed he would never rest until the Hyksos were driven out of Egypt. Kamose accordingly waged relentless war against Apepi II. He did die in the process and his mother took over to hold fort for his minor younger brother Ahmose.

When Ahmose acceded to the throne upon attaining the age of majority, he too pounced on the Hyksos with a vengeance in continuation from where his late brother had left off. It was Ahmose who succeeded in expelling the Hyksos from Egypt and united the country circa 1525 BC.

Manetho writes of the above development thus, General: “These people, whom we have before named kings, and called Shepherds (Hyksos) also, and their descendants kept possession of Egypt 511 years.

After these, the kings of Thebes (Kamose and Ahmose) and the other parts of Egypt made an insurrection against the Shepherds, and that there a terrible and long war was made between them … The Shepherds were subdued, and were indeed driven out of other parts of Egypt, but were shut up in a place that contained ten thousand acres. This place was named Avaris (their capital) …

“… The Shepherds built a wall round all this place, which was a large and a strong wall, and this in order to keep all their possessions and their prey within a place of strength, but Thummosis (Ahmose) made an attempt to take them by force and by siege, with 480,000 men to lie rotund about them. But that, upon his despair of taking the place by that siege, they came to a composition (compact) with them, that they should leave Egypt, and go, without any harm to be done to them, whithersoever they would.

“After this composition was made, the Shepherds went away with their whole families and effects, not fewer in number than 240,000, and took their journey from Egypt, through the wilderness, for Syria. But that as they were in fear of the Assyrians, who had then the dominion over Asia, they built (actually developed as it was already in existence) a city in that country which is now called Judea, and that large enough to contain this great number of men, and called it Jerusalem.”

The Hykso expulsion from Egypt in 1525 BC, General, marked the first exodus of the Israelites from that country. Note that not all the Israelites left Egypt: about 240,000 remained in Avaris alone. They were known as Israelites not because they were named after Jacob but because their domain, northern Egypt, was known as I-Sira-El.

NEXT WEEK: THE “STAR” KNOWN AS DAVID

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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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