fra: full of chutzpah

My first piece of writing to ever be published was this one, as a Guest Post on Bikozulu’s blog.

When this piece made its debut, I thought it stale – it had been over 60 days since I had written it and it had sat around in my C-drive simmering, marinating. Then it went stale.  When I wrote it, it was clear and relevant; I was happy with my work. When Bikozulu was ready to run it, not only was it stale in my mind, but it also did not make any sense. Can you imagine that, a writer not able to make sense of his own work? I believe its relevance had run out.

It was not until several months later I would realize the importance of this piece in shaping me as writer. Let me break it down to you:
First, when a seasoned and celebrated writer like Bikozulu takes your rookie draft and thinks it is a good enough story to run as a guest post – raw and unpredictable as it were – this becomes the stamp of approval we young ones seek early in our careers. As a toddler gets his first pair of shoes telling him that he can now walk in the sun on his own, so it were for me.
Second, Bikozulu was the first and last writer I ever tried to please. The desire to please another, other than myself, started with this piece and ended after three of such. There’s an author who said that this desire to fulfill others’ wishes is harmful in life but it is lethal in writing. As a writer, you are always your own best judge. Always.
Last, how his readers received this post. It was received with passion alright; only that the passion fell on extreme ends of the stick. I was disemboweled and decapitated. Acknowledged and accepted. Recall that quote from the movie the Braveheart? The voice-over when the lead character, William Wallace, was killed at the end of the movie: “After the beheading, William Wallace’s body was torn to pieces. His head was set on London bridge. His arms and legs, sent to the four corners of Britain as warning.”

That was me and my piece: William-Wallace’d.

I took the punches like a big girl, and pieced myself back together. Then, I opened a fresh page and drew a line straight down the middle. I sifted through comments, one at a time, jotting down the takeaway points on either side of the page; a first step towards sharpening my tools. When I was done, 70+ comments later, I noted the imbalance; one side of the table far outweighed the other. But the message was clear: I needed to practice my writing some more.

The title up there was its original title.


I told Biko that I can’t write to save my life, that I can’t produce an album tighter than Just A Band’s ‘Sorry for the delay’ or top the design of those kitengee jackets that are suddenly all the hype. No, I cannot.

I am a critic – it’s what I am good at. I am the kind that congregates at Rotten Tomatoes and Pitchfork.

Biko take back your mic and do what you do: ‘tell stories with your eyes closed’. Oh, you want me to close my eyes? It shall help, yes? No.

Okay, here goes me shedding off my anonymity.


My name is Fra Ternity, and I am a critic.
‘Hi fra’.

I like for my name to be written in lower case, no breaks in between. It’s over before it begins, really leaves nothing to chew on. fra. Get used to it.

To put food on my table, I strut around one of those firms that issue opinions on balanced books and control environments. I ‘critic’ for a living.

I have disobeyed a majority of the commandments of the social bible and I am self-confessed traitor of IT, art and science. Ssshhh, don’t tell them am here; if you do, I shall be drowned in colour, hanged with a cross-over Ethernet cable before am spun around until my centre of gravity is repositioned to my fingers – do not tell them am here.

As I pen this, I have ear phones stuck into my ears listening to Dashboard Confessional’s ‘So long, so long’. It has been looping for the past six and quarter hours. I am trying to dissect it to find out what makes it such a classic thus the reason I have it as the only item on my playlist. Understand that the classics are not known by all – if it’s too famous it becomes ordinary, too unheard of and it means that it wasn’t all that. It’s a fine balance. Ordinary means that its typical music writing, typical means that it lacks that factor that can only be discovered by ilk.
The album? The album is Dusk and Summer from 2006.

Again, it is what we critics do – we have to make sense of what makes it tick {or not tick, for that matter}. So you wear it out by letting in play on and on and on. Plus, I am gathering intel to produce My Band sometime in the future. Quit laughing, I am serious now. In exchange for this post, Biko has pledged to buy an album for himself and each of his fans. Plus advertising space right here on High School when am launching the album. He told me that it would clutter the page ‘I like it neat and trim’. I retorted something about ‘supporting local talent’ that went ignored. I am not aiming to go platinum but hey, a gyal can afford to be greedy, can’t she?

I am a Libra. I think in bullet points and a sought of relational manner – most of my ideas are linked to the arts – music, photography and words. I am as analytical as I am careless – I want to lay the firewood right before I jump right into the boiling pot. Like any other artist, I have a signature – mine is in the braces { }, and not brackets ( ). Brace yourself; brackets are going to be so old-fashioned someday!

So the other day, some folks got meddlesome, found out who I was and were curious to know – how did you recognize that the word supply was running low, eh? How come you were able to see critical battery when we were thinking longevity? He’s a darling of the pen gods for crying out loud, a favourite of the wizened chief! If we needed to make a sacrifice to appease the gods to end the drought & bless us with rains of words and harvests of stories, he would be the one we would sacrifice. Whenever the king was not in the mood, he would be the one we called upon to placate him in his chambers with his tales and banter. The budding writers looked up to him and approached his presence with reprieve, forgive our writers sins, they begged. Toni Braxton bit her tongue severally in the past because she’d been mentioned over 852 times, and counting, in the last 2 years alone {those stats are real, by the way}. His pen never seemed to run out of ink, his stores were always in bounties of words, humour was completely unprepared, word-play was unequalled – my garr! Rumour has it he has penned over 3,000 articles and blog posts that shall slowly be released after his death; Tupac style {I shuddered at that one}.
So what did you catch that we didn’t, they probed.

I mumbled something measly about being a seasoned critic but they dismissed it as bull.

I was cornered. So I sat them round the fire to give them the juice: it takes one to know one.

Burnout is a real bitch; and it is rife in this industry of mine. When you spend your days crunching numbers and ‘validating’ events that happened months ago just so you can have some ‘deficiency to report’, it is like life hands you a palette that is devoid of the colours green and yellow and orange; it hands you a palette that turns your mood into as sombre as the colours in it. You get sucked in from the insides in shades of lilac and beige. And that, that is not cool. But there’s a beauty in that. Hold on, there’s a beauty in that. The beauty is that you can work/walk around fully colourless on the inside but put up a front that everyone else needs to see on the outside. Yes, I can afford to be a zombie for months on end.
It is a sequence of events that starts with the passion jumping out of you and quickly transforming itself into a new being, a person, a replica, a shadow. A person I shall name {for no real reason} John Kamau, JK. JK follows you around; JK grows bigger as he sucks the music and colours out of you. You barely notice. The things that define you slowly start to exit one by one and sit cross-legend in a circle staring back at you; they hang around loosely watching JK from afar. JK has taken over and the worry about this imbalance. By Jove they worry for you; they worry that the space in you that belonged to them has now been taken over by this ‘cloud’, like a cold front that leaves the sea but hovers instead of crossing through the island.

It is only the day that you realize how ‘tiny’ you have become that you look within and without. You notice that it is quiet and colourless. When you are so small that you can now literally ran across your laptop’s keyboard to type the letter ‘p’ then dash across to type the letter ‘a’ then back to ‘i’ and that’s when you hit rock bottom because you are out of breath from running from yourself; picture Benjamin Button pulling a David Rudisha across the track. You give up, you give in. In that moment of self-doubt, as you are panting wearily with your hands resting on your knees and head staring down at your feet, JK grabs you by the collar of your shirt, dangles you in front of its face, and squashes you under its thumb; like a smoker does with a cigarette butt under his shoe. The game is over. And your passions look away to shield their eyes from this debacle that had been foreseen from the moment that JK sent out invites for their eviction party.

Heavy choices have to be made here – you can either bounce back or walk away. It is more like a bargain really. But like I said earlier, a gyal’s gotta eat. So you bounce back, painfully, and tackle JK down. And those things that once defined you find their way back in – one by one, the music and the colour find their way home. It takes plenty of time, and effort but they become characters again – they find their place and create a united front to make JK vanish. They pray, and I pray, that he has vanished for good.

Burnout is a real bitch.

Now back to Dashboard Confessional, and what’s that you said about a ‘control weakness’?

How the girls could turn to ghosts before your eyes,
And the very dreams that led to them are keeping them from dying.
And how the grace with which she walked into your life,
Will stay with you in your steps,
And pace with you a while.
So long, so long. So long, so long’


Demigods: meeting our favorite writers

Comments (5)

  1. The Real G

    I remember this on bikozulu. hahahaha. You were Williams-Wallace’d alright.

  2. Peaches

    You are a brave girl. And you write well. Am inspired by you and am proud of you.

    • fra

      Thank you for the kind words Peaches.

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Florence Bett-Kinyatti


Columnist Saturday Nation Writer Craft It Author of best-selling ‘SHOULD I?’ and ‘HOW MUCH?’ ~ Guiding word: Overdrive Subscribe to our Newsletter👇🏾 eepurl.com/igmN8P
  • Dear God, 
It’s me again.

I don’t pray as often as I need to, You know that. I don’t kneel by my bed in child-like humility, as Muna does. I don’t whisper a prayer in the morning. Or at noon. Perhaps just in the evening. 

This going-to-church habit is a constant false start. So is reading the Word. 

I’m often guilty but I also know: You and I have a language only we can understand. 

I speak to You through this gift You bestowed upon my Kale shoulders, this gift to write in colour. It’s a gift that sometimes feels like a curse, a burden I have no choice but to pursue. 

Yet other times – most times, actually – it’s the very breath of my essence. Everyday I sit to write, when the words flow from my head and heart through my fingers to the page, I feel You next to me. 

You are here, Lord. Hovering. Lingering. Swooshing about in Your regal robes, like a character from Bridgerton.

Sometimes You get so close I can feel You breathing on my neck and I’m like, ‘Err, God, do You mind, personal space?’

And You chuckle uncomfortably. ‘He-he, of course. Of course.’

I’m here to tell You, Thanks!

I hosted my first in-person event last March, Lord, thank You to all the lovely ladies who granted me their time and full attention. 

I’ve carried them in my heart since and every day, my prayer is that You bring them closer to the life of abundance they each seek. To their own version of wealth. 

I always call them by their name: Becky. Purity. Lindsay. Wangui. Naomi. Shiqow. Mercy. Liz. Winnie. Polly. Nduta. Lynet. 

And Mike. 

Dear Lord, I’m prepping for my next in-person event in June, Inshallah. 

Walk with me as I get there. 

Love always,

  • Highlights from our first-ever in person event hosted by Craft It and @financialfitbit 
Thanks to all the lovely ladies — and gent, hehe — who honoured us with the privilege of their time and attention. And colourful energy. It’s been weeks since and it’s only now that I’m coming down from the high. 

Thank YOU!

🎥 @mikemuthaka 

#craftit #author #MakeYourMoneyMatter #personalfinance #money
  • I am a woman.

I’m strong. I’m brilliant. I’m like a comet shooting across the sky, I’m so bright you have to put on shades to see me.

I’m almost 40, I’m almost fully realising myself as a woman and the power of womanhood I possess.

I’m so powerful that if KPLC connected me to the national grid, I’d power up this country and we’d never have another blackout.

Ho! Ho! Ho!


To recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day today, I’d like to recognize and celebrate eight women.

I have eight things to give away to each of these women:
a) Two tickets to my upcoming event on March 18 with @financialfitbit Theme is ‘Make your money matter’
b) Three autographed copies of my book ‘Should I?’
c) Three autographed copies of my other book ‘How Much?’

To participate:
1. Like this post
2. Tag women who deserve a win of either event ticket or book (tag as many women as you like)
3. Tell us what you’d like her to win and why she deserves the win
4. Make sure your tagged women follow @_craftit and @financialfitbit 

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
— One woman, one win
— Winners will be contacted via DM
— Giveaway closes at the end of this week, Inshallah, on Sunday 12 March
— Only open to people living in Kenya

All the best!

(Swipe right to see the women I’m celebrating.)

#craftit #internationalwomensday
  • My 2022 word of the year was Wholesome. 

Wholesome meant engaging in moderation and in pursuits that didn’t leave me feeling yucky.

An example: there’re weekend nights I’d go out then have too much to drink. On the drive home, I’d tell GB to stop the car every half mile so I could throw up on the side of the road. Then I’d take three working days recovering. 


No more of that nonsense.

Now I have only two doubles of Singleton whiskey and chase it with water. I eat less food and I eat better. I take my supplements. I treat myself to an early bedtime and arise with my body clock, no alarm.

I spend a lot more time hanging with my kids, Muna and Njeeh. 

I buy fewer things. 

I play the piano. 

I created a disciplined routine for my work and take Thursdays off. 

You catch my drift…

Wholesome has become my lifestyle. 

(By the way, I was asked, ‘Where does this word-of-the-year come from, Bett?’ I don’t know about other people but for me, the words present themselves when I’m journaling. My spirit tells me what it needs; I must be still enough to listen and brave enough to obey.)

My word for 2023 is Overdrive.

My two books have unlocked new opportunities for me as a writer and creative. As an urban brand. I’d honestly not foreseen them. 

I know that if I adjust my sails to where the wind is blowing, these opportunities will translate to wealth.

Last Friday, I listed all the work I’m already doing and all the new opportunities – potential and realised – knocking at my door.

I asked myself, ‘What am I taking up here and what am I dropping?’

The response, ‘None – we go into overdrive and smartly pursue them all.’

#craftit #urbanguide
  • Years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Bett, we’re almost 40 – forget makeup, let’s take care of our skin instead.’

I had to laugh because this was coming from Terry. Terry my Kisii pal, this fine gyal with skin the colour of honey, the only practising SDA in my circle. 

Terry had spent her 20s and early 30s sleek with Arimis. That’s right, the milking jelly with a lactating cow on its logo. 

Arimis addressed all her skin pickles back then. It was her problem fixer. Her Olivia Pope. It’s the one thing that always said, It’s handled.

Now here she was preaching to us about a consistent skincare regimen in the AM and PM.


It wasn’t until Terry shared her selfies on our girls WhatsApp group that I stopped laughing. It wasn’t until we stood next her – and took these selfies – that I reeally stopped laughing: Terry’s skin was youthful and toned, plump. Hydrated. Moistured but not shiny. 

It looked like it had been kissed by the Greek goddess of radiance. 

So we gathered around her feet and said, ‘Forgive us, master. We are ready now. Teach us everything you know.’

She did. 

Terry and I now spend plenty of time before work and before bed squeezing out little portions of expensive skincare products from expensive tubes, we layer them on our face in a calculated measure.

This serum here is for the circles under my eyes and the fine lines around my mouth.

Turns out I’ve been giving away too much of my face: I’ve been looking too hard, laughing too easily.

I’ll have to spend the next year into my 40s with my eyes half shut and laughing little. I'll have a resting bitch face.

Don’t blame me, blame the retinol.

And age.

#craftit #urbanguide #urbangirl
  • I’m Bett. I’m the author of your favourite books about money. I’m hosting an in-person event in March, Inshallah: This is my personal invite to you.

#craftit #moneymaker #moneyinkenya
  • I am hosting my first money event this March, Inhsallah. It’s the first of quarterly events I have planned for the year. 

(Give me a moment here so I pull myself together long enough to write this. I’m smiling very hard right now, ha-ha, I look like a donkey.)


The event will be in-person. On a Saturday morning, a loose three hours which, I am certain, you’d have burned on some other pursuit you couldn’t account for later. (I’d probably be oiling the hinges of a squeaky door or decluttering my sock drawer.)

My guest host for this edition is Lynet Kyalo. 

Lynet is a personal finance coach under her brand @financialfitbit She also hosts @getyourbagrightpodcast 

Buy your tickets from our Market.

Early bird tickets are discounted until the end of this month.

Limited slots available. 

#craftit #millenialmoney #moneyevent #moneymaker
  • Sometimes I sit down and read my own book. 

Odd, huh?

Reading my own stories is like an out-of-body experience. Or getting introduced to myself again. An outward journey inward.

It’s fascinating.

I also read because I need to improve my writing for my next project.

We call them the Elements of Craft: things like sentence structure and punctuation, word placement, story length etc, they all inform your reading experience.

This is what makes the book easy to read, and has you turning the pages.

Cop your autographed copy and #betteryourmoney 

#craftit #howmuch #millenialmoney #moneymaker

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