Arrogance that felled mighty Azimio now in Ruto's Cabinet

President William Ruto chairs a Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi, June 2023. [PCS]

Niccolo Machiavelli in The Prince, said, "He who becomes a Prince through the favour of the people should always keep on good terms with them; which it is easy for him to do, since all the people ask is not to be oppressed."

Mr. President, let your Cabinet members lecture the already troubled hustlers in a civil manner. They should remember that similar chest-thumping, pomposity and absolute arrogance felled the mighty Azimio in 2022.

We have not forgotten how some Azimio powerholders treated hustlers with contempt. They walked the Earth, implying that hustlers' votes were insignificant. They boasted of having the deep state on their side and rolled out a red carpet to power before the counting of votes was over, and there was, seemingly, nothing the hustlers could do.

In his old age, the writer of Ecclesiastes said, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Allow me to give an undisputed case study of this wise writer in his prime age.

Twelve centuries ago, a new Monarch of the Southern Levant set a bar for arrogance that some members of President Ruto's Cabinet are displaying.

The resultant moral lesson is the subject matter of this column.In the mid-10th century BC, the first monarch of the Kingdom of Judea rose to power after the split of the United Kingdom of Israel. His name was King Rehoboam.

When his father, King Solomon, retired, the hustlers pleaded with the new King, saying, "Your father was a hard master...lighten the harsh labour demands and heavy taxes that he imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects."

The new King asked for three days as was the custom to ponder. The new King consulted the wise elite leaders on the matter. They advised him to 'speak to the hustlers civilly', heed citizens' plea to lighten their labour and reduce the heavy taxes the former regime imposed on them.

The new King also consulted his agemates on what to tell the hustlers. The young, inexperienced mates advised the new monarch thus: "This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: 'My predecessor laid heavy burdens on you, but I'm going to make them even heavier! My predecessor beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!'

Unfortunately, the new monarch chose to go by the advisory of the young ones. That decision initiated the split of the 12 nations of Israel, leaving Rehoboam to rule over only two nations. He lost the ten nations because he did not 'speak to the hustlers in a civil manner'.

But where did the rain start beating the monarch of the southern levant? In the Deuteronomistic history of the Hebrew Bible, King Solomon (the father of Rehoboam) overtaxed his subjects so much that silver and gold in his 'state house' became as common as stones. The state house driveways and pavements were of gold and silver, but the hustlers bore the burden of taxation, forced hard labour and deficiency.

Although King Solomon is famed for his wisdom, power and influence, he inspired the kingdom's split because he oppressed the hustlers. When his son took control, he added salt to the wound by speaking arrogantly to the hustlers and oppressed them even more.

Even if the burden is not lightened, hustlers need respect and hope. The hustlers carry the burden of the leaders' exorbitant salaries, allowances, and upkeep of all power-accompanying whatnots.

Political psychologists agree that power does not corrupt, but it only gives leaders a licence to act on their real wishes and expose their true colours. Kenya Kwanza administration is in power, and some top leaders are not frugal with the exposure of their insensitive underbellies.

The government is expected to be a source of hope to hustlers amid the current crises. Hustlers cannot bear the pains of economic burden and tongue-lashing from insensitive leaders. All the hustlers ask is for them to be well-rested materially and psychologically.

-Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Kabarak University

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