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The ancient confluence of Mayan and Tswana terms

What could possibly tie Mayan language of Nahautl with Setswana? The short answer is “the Olmecs” – an ancient group of African miners and technicians that legend says accompanied the Egyptian god Tehuti (Thoth) to South America.

Historically, the Olmecs are widely credited with having established the first great civilisation in Mesoamerica (a region made up mainly of Mexico), while the Aztecs and Mayans – who succeeded the Olmecs – are still fixated on the return of their beloved god who they credit with having taught them ‘everything’, including the art of writing. Indeed, ‘Nahautl’ is na-ha–u-tle in Setswana: ‘Are you coming or not?’

So how did a band of Africans end up in South America and, as if to forever mark their presence there, carved huge sculptures of their heads on boulders exhibiting their distinctly African features? The fact that all the gigantic heads are always shown helmeted gave me a clue as to their name:  O-o-lomegang means ‘he who puts things together’. The helmets, then, were simply to show that their trade was…engineering; that they were not slaves at all!

Beforehand, when they were still in Africa, it was evidently a highly competitive race to be included in the contingent that left with the Egyptian Wisdom-god. Those who were chosen were Maya (Setswana for ‘those that went’) and those who were not were Masai (‘those that did not go’). The final decision evidently rested with Tehuti because Luhya tribes of East Africa – who trace their history from Egypt –still call their ancestor-god ‘Nyasala’ (“No, you stay”). Indeed, there are interesting similarities between the Masai of East Africa and the Maya of South America. Both favoured red and black as their principal colours. Both had a penchant for jumping up and down (see Mel Gibson’s movie Apocalypto).

Tehuti’s departure to South America is recorded in Sumerian legend, where he was known as Ningishzidda. Legend says that when his elder brother Marduk was banished from Babylon to Egypt over his encouraging of the Tower of Babel incident recorded in Genesis 11, he bullied Tehuti there, eventually prompting his younger brother’s departure. As the foremost scientist amongst the gods, Thoth planned revenge – a good laugh at Marduk’s expense. Marduk had been promised leadership over the gods come the Age of the Ram (Aries: 2160 BC – 0 AD). An astrological age – each of which lasts 2160 years because of the Earth’s slow wobble on its axis – is determined by the constellation that is seen behind the rising sun every Spring equinox. Right now we are in Pisces (0 – 2160 AD).

But Taurus, the age that reigned before Aries took over, occupies more than its fair share of 30 arc-degrees of the sky. Knowing this, Tehuti built observatories in Lagash (in Mesopotamia), Stonehenge in England, and elsewhere. When Aries’ time came, Taurus was still lingering behind the rising sun and Marduk was told to wait because ‘the skies had not yet declared his time’. But it dragged on and on and meanwhile, in South America. Tehuti was laughing and laughing. He

called one observatory ‘Tiahuanaco’ (‘Delay of time’, in Setswana) and the other Puma-punku (Phumaphi –u nku?) meaning, in Setswana, ‘Where has The Sheep (i.e. Aries) gone?’ But the joke soon turned sour as Marduk eventually realised that he was being played and thus rallied people behind his cause – ably helped by his son Nabu – the ominous outcome of this being a War of the Gods that culminated in the nuclear destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah: cities in which the pair were thought to be hiding (see prior articles for full story).

In South America, Tehuti was known as ‘Quetzalcoatl’ (apparently meaning ‘Feathered-Serpent’) but for the Olmecs, I detect, their god was to them ‘Kgweetsa-a-le-kgwatle’ (Drives you while lying lazily [like a monitor lizard]). ‘Monitor lizard’ is kgwathe but when the Olmecs returned they had adopted tla in the place of ta. Indeed Tehuti was also called Tlahuitzcalpantechutli (‘Come [to me] so as to know about the whole world’ as Setswana can still decipher: le-Pan literally means ‘far and wide’, thus ‘the world’). Evidently, the teacher in him remained strong (Tee-huti means ‘foremost/sole teacher’).

For a number of reasons explained in other articles, the relationship between Tehuti and another god called Ishkur deteriorated. So as to keep an eye on Tehuti (who had been entrusted with the all-important shems (rocket-propelled spacecraft) after the Sodom debacle in Canaan), Ishkur chose to move to South America.

Wishing to also impress the local people who openly loved Tehuti, he regularly took to the sky in his plane and drew patterns on the ground using lasers – one of the biggest and most impressive being a picture of the trident (a garden-fork-like spear that could emit sparks) which he had adopted as his personal insignia.

Unimpressed, every time he took off to display his doodling skills, the Olmecs would say ‘Tescatilpoca’ (It is time (scati) for him to praise himself (ipoka)). Se-kati (Nguni for ‘time’, means ‘that which keeps expanding’: kat means ‘widen’ as in katologa). “Ho itse, ele, ipochitli: ‘he really knows, that one, vanity’: ipocha literally means ‘beautify oneself’), they would remarked, hence ‘Tescatilpoca Huitzilpochtli’, Ishkur’s South American name. The lines he drew on the ground are now called the Nazca lines (na–sicca means ‘as if cut (sega)’, and sicca relates to ‘scissors’: ‘that which cuts’).

A full-blown War of the Gods eventually erupted again – this time in South America and Tehuti (Quetzalcoatl) was defeated but escaped exile and later fled the region. His retreat sparked the name ‘Chichen-Itza’ (‘the retreat (checha) of Itza’) – now a city in Mexico. ‘Itza’ was the shortened form of his full nickname Itza-nama (‘He forbids meat’, in Setswana). Indeed, when he arrived in the Himalayas in 562 BC and immediately started off all the major Eastern religions, a primary feature of all of them was vegetarianism.

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Digging Tswana Roots



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