A novel - Three stories covering 3 000 years of history

Thursday, September 23, 2010


With a super lake where the Kalahari is, the climate in those times would have been very different from what it is now and its effect on population distribution would have been profound.

In 1886 Farini, an American wandered the Kalahari searching for diamonds. In his book, Through the Kalahari Desert, he wrote of a lost city. Describing ‘a long line of stones looking like the Chinese Wall after an earthquake’ he traced it for nearly a mile. There were ‘loose pieces of fluted masonry' and 'rude sculptured blocks' among the huge, flat-sided stones.” His book contained two maps. He gave a speech and presented a map to the Royal Geographical Society in which he claimed he had 'traced what had evidently once been a huge walled enclosure, elliptical in form and about one eighth of a mile in length'. He placed the structures at 23° 30' lat. and 21° 30'.

 In 1950 shortly after a Dr. F. D. van Zyl had departed on an expedition of rediscovery, the Johannesburg Sunday Times dated 15 July 1950, wrote of an interview with a Mr. D. J. Herholdt, living at Vanderbijl Park who claimed that together with his brother-in-law he had found the lost city in the Kalahari in 1925. Describing the lost city, he claimed it was an expanded 'Zimbabwe' type structure with four 20 ft. 'observation posts' of ironstone blocks, strange hieroglyphs, terraces leading to an amphitheatre. Two huge tombs had been cut into solid rock and there were rack on rack of embalmed mummies.

In 1959 Mr. J.N. Haldeman carried out an aerial search in a small area at very low level searching for that Lost City of the Kalahari in the general area (erroneously) marked on Farini’s inaccurate old map - 23° 30’ lat. 21° 30’ long.  In a lengthy and detailed report this is what he had to say in summary:[1]

We flew 8,400 miles altogether in our aerial search, most of it at 200 ft. and 300 ft., and sometimes down between the peaks of the sand-dunes. There are possibly a hundred prominent sand-dunes (mountains) in the area. We have even seen ostrich eggs on the ground-but on the other hand we had to make three passes before all three of us in the plane could spot a ten-foot animal hole in the side of a sand-dune. Some who have flown a small fraction of the time and distance we did are positive that the ruins cannot exist because they did not see them. We feel that we could quite possibly have missed them in the camouflaged desert terrain, even if they were still visible. But there is the possibility that the ruins are completely covered. As the sand-dunes are not so big, there should still be some evidence of a wall that Farini could follow for a mile or even one-eighth of a mile. His story and his description of the country ring true. Perhaps someone will have to dig, but some day the Lost City of the Kalahari will be found.

What is the relevance of the superlake and the Rivers of Eden to the highly charged, much politicised, racially tinged subject – The History of the Great Zimbabwe Mystery?

[1] Lost City of the Kalahari Author(s): J. N. Haldeman Source: The South African Archaeological Bulletin, Vol. 13, No. 49, (Mar., 1958), pp. 39-40 Published by: South African Archaeological Society


More than a hundred years ago Prof A.H. Keane exhaustively outlined in his book - The Gold of Ophir[1] how in his long search for biblical Ophir he came to the conclusion that biblical Havilah was Zimbabwe.

The biblical book of Genesis 2:11 when speaking of the gold speaks of Havilah and a river issuing from Eden says…

‘…it then divides and becomes four branches. ; the one that winds through the whole land is Havilah, where the gold is. (The gold of that land is good; bdellium is there, and lapis lazuli). The name of the second river is Gihon, the one that winds through the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel, the one that flows east of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Perat.’

Regarding the Garden of Eden, the predominant opinion among biblical scholars is that in Genesis 13:10, the garden is made independent of the vagaries of seasonal rainfall. Somewhere beyond the confines of the garden this single river separated into four branches that probably represent the four quarters of the inhabited world. Opinion is that the ‘River of Eden’ also nourished the rest of the world with its life-giving waters. Typical opinion has somehow related two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates to have a connection with Eden. For example:

“While the Tigris and the Euphrates are of course well known, the other two names defy positive identification. They may stand for another great river civilization corresponding to that of the Mesopotamian plain, perhaps the Nile Valley.”

But the aforementioned is pure speculation of scholars (peering myopically at the present world) and generally assuming that only two of the rivers are either the Tigris or the Euphrates, or associated with these two well known Middle Eastern rivers associated with the ancient world and located in the Fertile Crescent where humans and religion have experienced enormous development. The fact is there were four rivers of Eden and not one of the rivers have ever been positively identified! There is not a shred of real evidence to support the contentions and theories that the Tigris and Euphrates are the rivers of Eden.
Rand Flem-Ath and Colin Wilson put an extremely good case in ‘The Atlantis Blueprint,’ for the equator once having formerly been directly over Giza presently 30°N (The then prime Meridian). If we consider that polar shift or reversal (coupled with earth crustal shift) has possibly occurred many times in the past (the most recent being the Hudson Bay North Pole) these rivers of Eden could have been anywhere.
Havilah means ‘sandy land’ in Hebrew. If, in the light of this possibility, we remember that, climatically and geologically things were very different a hundred thousand or even twenty thousand years ago and that a vast inland sea covered the present Kalahari Desert which spreads across Namibia, Botswana and Eastern Zimbabwe; of which the many dried salt lakes of Mgadikgadi Botswana and Etosha Namibia and the great Okavango Delta are the last remnants. And if we examine the Zambezi and African river systems in the light of Havilah and this inland sea – we suddenly find a far better and more likely fit to the Biblical quote:

‘The name of the first is Pishon; the one that winds through the whole land is Havilah, where the gold is. The gold of that land is good; bdellium is there, and lapis lazuli.’

More than two million years ago the land around the Makgadigadi salt pans experienced tectonic uplift (perhaps as part of what geologists call the African super swell) and a large lake formed, and extended east and the upper Zambezi River used to flow south through what is now the Makgadikgadi Pan to the Limpopo River. The land through which the ancient first Zambezi once ran (now the great sandy Kalahari) easily meets the description –

“... is the one (river) that winds through the whole land is Havilah, where the gold is. The gold of that land is good.”

The land along most of the Zambezi is sandy, ancient evidence of this mighty river’s sand and washed pebbles lies everywhere in the rift valley. I have personally, during years of military patrolling, frequently marvelled at smooth washed pebbles and boulders encased in great slabs of compressed river sandstone, lying as much as fifty miles from and a thousand feet or more higher than the river, in the dramatic escarpments through which the great river presently traverses. Admittedly Zimbabwe is not (now) a traditional source of bdellium (an aromatic gum like myrrh exuded from a tree which we shall discuss later) – but neither is the Fertile Crescent.  If The Atlantis Blueprint is right – and crustal shift did occur; then when Egypt lay on the equator Zimbabwe once lay at about 45°S. Who is to say what was produced there?

The name of the second is Gihon

The name of the second river is Gihon. (The one that winds through the whole land of Cush)

The River Nile is the one Biblical river which we can positively identify. The word Gihon in Hebrew means ‘gushing forth” – which is exactly what the Nile presently does as it gushes forth from an enormous inland sea (Lake Victoria) over a waterfall to instantly become one of the world’s great rivers. The word Cush means black – which technically is present day Ethiopia (or north Africa/S. Egypt.) The Nile is a prime candidate for having its source together with that of the R. Zambezi and the R. Congo - and its story is fascinating. 

Today the Nile actually rises not on Lake Victoria but far to the south of that lake in the middle of Africa (in the E.Din or Abzu of the Sumerians) which Wikipedia tells us:

The present Nile is at least the fifth river that has flowed north from the Ethiopian Highlands. Satellite imagery was used to identify dry watercourses in the desert to the west of the Nile. An Eonile canyon, now filled by surface drift, represents an ancestral Nile called the Eonile that flowed during the later Miocene (23–5.3 million years before the present). The Eonile transported clastic sediments to the Mediterranean, where several gas fields have been discovered within these sediments. During the late-Miocene Messinian Salinity Crisis, when the Mediterranean Sea was a closed basin and evaporated empty or nearly so, the Nile cut its course down to the new base level until it was several hundred feet below world ocean level at Aswan and 8,000 feet (2,400 m) below Cairo. This huge canyon is now full of later sediment.
Formerly Lake Tanganyika drained northwards along the African Rift Valley into the Albert Nile, making the Nile about 900 miles (1,400 km) longer, until blocked in Miocene times by the bulk of the Virunga Volcanoes. Lake Tanganyika drained northwards into the Nile until the Virunga Volcanoes blocked its course in Rwanda. That would have made the Nile much longer, with its longest headwaters in northern Zambia.
End of Wikipedia extract

The name of the third river is Hiddekel, the one that flows east of Asshur.
The Hiddekel - is more complicated. This, the third river (‘that flows east of Asshur.’) leads scholars to assume a Fertile Crescent location, but Ashurr requires positive identification.  The Lualaba, the main source of the mighty Zaire River (presently the 2nd greatest river in the world) also rises very close to the source of the Zambezi. In fact so near, that their sources are a watershed where literally one pace separates the waters flowing into either of these two great rivers. The mighty Zaire River could therefore conceivably have been the Hiddekel, with its source and that of the Zambezi not too far from the (ancient) source of the Nile. With three rivers rising from what could have once been “a single source,” this leaves only the Perat, the fourth river, generally believed to be (corrupted to) Euphrates.

And the fourth is Perat
A  Portuguese writer de Barros, whom we shall frequently meet in the coming pages wrote these lines almost five hundred years ago. [2]
All the land which we include in the kingdom of Sofala is a great region, ruled by a heathen prince called Benomotapa; it is enclosed by two arms of a river which issues from the most considerable lake in all Africa which was much sought after by all the ancients as being the source of the whence also issues our Zaire – which flows by the kingdom of Congo. The river which flows towards Sofala which issues from this lake and has a long course divides into two branches
The lake of which De Barros was speaking was in all likelihood Nalubale (later Lake Victoria). The two arms of which De Barros was speaking were the Limpopo and the Zambezi.  Perhaps the ancients knew all four biblical rivers emanated from one source- a great lake. When Livingstone and Moffat explored the Zambezi, Burke, Stanley, Grant and many others of the time, were still arguing about and seeking the source of the Nile, it is easy to see how they were confused. For climatically and geologically things were very different twelve thousand or more years ago. The Perat therefore (if earth crustal shift has occurred) could just as well be the Limpopo and or, the Sabi River - all once perhaps interconnected to a vast inland sea of which its remnants are now the Kalahari and the dried salt lakes of Mgadikgadi Botswana and Etosha Namibia.

So, as much as many biblical scholars wish it to be so - it is highly questionable that the Tigris and Euphrates are two of the four rivers of Eden - and this is why there has been so much scholarly speculation that another great river civilization existed somewhere.

[1] The Gold of Ophir –Whence Brought and by Whom Prof A.H Keane London 1901.
[2] De Asia First decade Book X Chapter I De Barros 1496-1570 (Translation)



 From an article reproduced from the popular South African TV show Carte Blanche Date: 28 November 1999 - Producer: Eugene Botha - Presenter: Ruda Landman

Claims by people living amongst the Venda in the Northern Province (of South Africa) that they are the black Jews - directly related to the Israelites - have for years been treated with a lot of circumspection. These days, however, technology allows us to explore the authenticity of the claims using science. The findings have been astounding - to some.
They may look like ordinary people living ordinary lives, but ever since he was a little boy sitting around his grandfather's fire, Machaia Mathivha knew he was different. The difference can be seen in the many small religious objects and memorabilia scattered about his house. Many of these would seem out of place in an African dwelling. Besides the ornaments, he also wears rather strange clothes with odd symbols for a man of Africa. Even his traditional greeting is out of the ordinary - "Shalom Alachem," says Mathivha.
This strange-sounding African greeting has its roots in an age-old oral tradition that determines Machaia Mathivha's unique sense of identity. "Our forefathers have always claimed that they are the descendants of Abraham and that they are the Jews who came to Africa," says Mathiva.
This unique claim to Jewish ancestry is the cornerstone of the existence and identity of the Lemba people - a distinct group of black people who live among other black groups in the northern parts of South Africa and in Zimbabwe.
Magdel le Roux from Unisa has lived with the Lemba and has just completed a doctorate on them.
"The Lemba say that they originally migrated from Israel - from Judea - because of trade connections in Yemen. They were involved with Arab and Phoenician traders and from there they came to Africa. According to their tradition they came to Africa in a boat; others say it was on a tree trunk. They arrived from a place called Sena," says le Roux.
"From Yemen we went up to Tanzania. At Ethiopia we branched into two groups; some came south others went west," says Mathiva. "We travelled along the East Coast of Africa and eventually built another city called Sena, named after the one we had left. We continued along the east coast to Mozambique and into Zimbabwe. And, since we were copper and iron workers, some spread into Venda where we are today."
Tradition has it that this group of Jewish traders from cities in the Yemen consisted of men only.
"According to the traditions of related groups on the African east coast, a war broke out in their home country. They could not return to their country of origin and they, as they say, were 'forced' to take wives from the local tribes," says le Roux.
Descendants of these people became the Lemba and eventually settled in southern Zimbabwe and the north of South Africa. One of their unique traditions is that they were involved with the mysterious Zimbabwe ruins. The Lemba thus have a very strong and old oral tradition that they are directly descended from ancient Israelites. These traditions are carried over from generation to generation and at cultural festivals youngsters are taught the traditions of the elders.
These claims are also supported by peculiar cultural practices. Many of these cultural practices are quite foreign to African people and closely resemble Jewish practices and tradition. For example: they use unique musical instruments; they celebrate a number of Jewish-like feasts, such as that of the new moon and of the first fruits, and they marry only other Lembas. It is significant that many of these practices seem to pre-date modern Jewish practices.
"They have little in common with modern Jews although they were and are known as the black Jews. It's the term that Paul Kruger gave to them," says le Roux.
Over the years few have believed that the Lemba are really related to the Jews. But the fact remains that they have this extremely old oral tradition of having come from Israel and their customs and way of life also seem to support these claims. All of this could possibly be explained away. It is rather circumstantial.
But - this is only half the story... the other part takes place in London.
In recent years analysis of human DNA has yielded amazing results. It is used in the identification of people, but it is also used to trace bloodlines and relationships between people. To fully understand the significance of the research in London to the Lemba, it is necessary to first look at the pioneering research done in South Africa by Prof. Trevor Jenkins of Wits.
"In the late eighties an ethnomusicologist told me about the Lemba people; a people whose music she'd been studying. I was told about their Jewish affinity and became interested," says Jenkins. Prof. Jenkins then conducted genetic tests on the Lemba. These genetic tests hinge on the Y-chromosome found only in men. This chromosome is passed on from father to son and remains virtually unchanged over thousands of years. In addition, the Y-chromosome of different groups carries markers which make it possible to clearly distinguish one group from another group. This can be used to trace bloodlines and to determine to which specific group an individual is related.
"When we tested the chromosomes of 49 Lemba men we were delighted to find that they had significant differences from the control group - a group that consisted of Venda people. Those differences revealed to us that they did indeed have a Semitic connection. There could be no doubt that more than one thousand years ago males from the Middle East came into the area. What they contributed to the local populace via marriage and procreation was a characteristic Y-chromosome which has remained unaltered in the men in all these intervening years. We have, in a sense, confirmed their oral tradition," says Jenkins.
These findings attracted worldwide attention and Neil Bradman and his team at the University College of London's Centre for Genetic Anthropology delved further into the secrets of the DNA of the Lemba people. They were able to refine the initial research done by Jenkins in South Africa. And, with more sophisticated techniques, they have achieved amazing results.
What Trevor Jenkins in South Africa first determined was that the Lemba's ancestors were Semitic people. That is, they could have come from any group in the Middle East - Jews, Arabs or Egyptians. However, the work in London not only indicated that the Lemba are indeed related to the Jews, but it was even possible to show that they are related to a specific group within the Jewish population.
"Amongst the Jews, there is a hereditary paternal priesthood called the Cohanim. This is a priesthood that you can't get promoted to. You cannot be one unless your father was one," explains Bradman. This means that the Cohanim and all those closely related to them would have the same very distinctive Y-chromosome. "This type of chromosome acts as a signature of that particular population. Greatly to our surprise we have found that this particular chromosome in a very high frequency amongst the Lemba people," says Bradman.
So finally the Western halls of Academia have confirmed that the age-old traditions are indeed true. In the veins of the Lemba flows the blood of the ancient Israelites. One would think they would be overjoyed to have their critics finally silenced.
"Scientists come around and tell us what we already know," says Mathiva.
"Well, I suppose it's important to those who did not know - to those people it's been confirmed. But for us it's not new - it's what we have always known."