Scorpions, Debt and Rehoboam

The story is told of how a son of a great king ascended to the seat of rulership after the death of his father. At the initial meeting, the gathered nation spoke their hearts out to the new ruler, pleading a different future from the heavy burden his father had saddled them with. They cried out for relief from the previous regime’s oppressive environment. The young ruler retreated for some days to consult with wise elders seeking a way forward. The wise men suggested a compassionate response, full of empathy and justice for the groaning nation.

Having listened to the elders, the young ruler sought a second opinion. He went to the inner circle of his handlers for their thoughts. They had a radically different approach. The men the young ruler had grown up with advised him to be tough, and unrelenting if he was going to accomplish what they wanted during his tenure. They trashed the elders’ divinely inspired wisdom. So, coached by his confidantes, young ruler came back to the groaning nation with these words, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”


2019 Kenya is struggling under a heavy debt burden. Numerous calls have gone out to the leadership for caution against an oppressive debt regime. The words returning to the groaning nation are that if the big agenda is to be fulfilled then the public must be content with a heavier debt burden. Those opposed to the back-breaking load are, therefore, enemies of progress, often contemptuously scorned. It is not clear at this point if Kenya is too far gone to beat an about turn away from the fast-approaching onslaught of debt-induced turbulence. What is clear is that the pain of slow business will only be multiplied on the public through higher interest rates, to ostensibly stimulate economic growth in the flailing banking sector. The scourge of whips will turn to the scourge of scorpions. To paraphrase the respected, most senior banker, I also ask, what use is this growth if it does not translate into the lives of the ordinary citizen?

Debt trap

The story of the young ruler has a dramatic ending. The nation couldn’t take it any more. The people refused the young ruler’s leadership. They essentially denied the ruler a kingdom, ripping away from him what he had desired to have. His courage and audacity were met with the consequences of harsh political realities. Despite the big vision and smooth words, Jubilee has consistently met the groanings of economic duress with promises of more of the same economic activities that cause the pain. More debt, less action against systemic and individual corruption, and apathetic responses to the plight of the common man. Could it be that Jubilee is inviting upon itself Rehoboam’s fate? Is it possible that the Kibra election will be a prophecy of whether the young ruler will have a kingdom or not in 2022? Could it be that 2022 portends a multitude of rulers who will be stripped of their kingdoms for their lack of wisdom in times such as these? If I was Jubilee, I would study the story in 1 Kings 12 thoroughly and see what I can learn from it, because the issues are the same, the key characters in the story are the same, and the same frightening end might be their lot.

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