I continue to wear the new girl tag around my neck. I continue to wear it because I haven’t quite settled in to the regularity of a routine. A routine which includes, among other things, a payday that comes at the end of the month.

So it was that on this Tuesday the sixteenth that I wanted to get paid. I ask for the Accounts office and I am sent three floors up. I ask to see Wanjama*, our payroll accountant. He is pointed to me. There’s a queue to see him so I take my place and wait.

I know Wanjama. We have met before. I met Wanjama in 2010, mid January. That week when there was a solar eclipse, remember it? Wanjama is an accountant. And like all accountants, he cherishes his short sleeved shirts and shiny cheap ties. Those ties that reflect more light than they absorb; the ones which are sold by those street vendors who set up shop on the streets of Nairobi; those ties which sell for 50 bob a piece. An accountant also means that he doesn’t like to ask questions. He likes to give answers instead, concise and choreographed ones. Holding a conversation with him is painful.

But all this is secondary to Wanjama because he has a poker face; he shows no emotions. His forehead doesn’t knit with worry, his eyes don’t light up with excitement, he doesn’t throw his head back in laughter, he doesn’t spit with disgust. I have never even seen his goddamn teeth. Wanjama can tell you bawdy things like, ‘Give it to me baby’. Or things to mist up your eyes like, ‘My baby just called me papa for the first time’. Or things that will grate you like, ‘Did you hear what Kingwa Kamencu did with her neighbours’ underwear?’And he will say them all with the same expressionless look on his face. And it is because of this that I remember why we didn’t keep in touch after when we last met. It was because I wasn’t sure if he liked me or not.

It gets to my turn. And I approach Wanjama’s desk with the excitement of a toddler running to his mom. Wanjama looks up at me and does something with his mouth which is akin to a smile.

“Wanjama heeeyy,” I say.

Wanjama looks up from his computer to meet my eyes, “Hallo.”

“Don’t you remember me?”

He shakes his head, “No. I don’t remember you.”

“ABC Audit from 2010, yes?”

“No. I don’t remember you.”

“When your office was on the other side? Down below, near the courier office?”

“Yes, I remember the audit. Quarter Three and Four. But, I don’t remember you.” He continues to stare. This is uncomfortable. I scratch my cheek and pull on my earlobe then take the seat he has offered. My outstretched arms that were eager for some affection are bracingly embarrassing.

I wait for Wanjama to ask me why I am here to collect a cheque. I want him to ask how audit is going. I want him to ask how I have been fairing since we last spoke three years ago. I want him to be curious. I want him to ask something, anything. But he doesn’t. He clicks on his mouse, and fiddles with his keyboard, eyes fixed on the screen. This poker face, my God.

Wanjama prints something out, like all accountants do, and brings out a register of names.

“Remind me your name?”

I tell him. No smile. No manufactured excitement. No false light-bulb moment. Not even a smirk. The pregnant pause is punctuated by shuffling of papers and the purr of his computer.

Wanjama asks me to write my ID number and sign against my name. Then he hands me the cheque. “This is yours.”

Excellent. Great. Except that. Wait. Hang on. OK. Something is wrong here. I flip the cheque over three, four times looking for a second attached cheque. Nothing. This cheque, it has my name on it alright. And whatever Wanjama has printed holds details that do relate to me. But the amount on the cheque? Something is amiss here. Someone butchered the cheque; some figures are missing. Someone decided instead to pay me instalments. Someone sabotaged my payday.

Wanjama interrupts my disbelief and dismay to ask for my bank details, “So we can be making transfers directly to your bank account.”

I rub my forehead as I fill out my bank details on the blank sheet he has given me.

“That’s it?”

He says yes, “That’s it.”


Besides the figures that are missing from this cheque, I have mixed feelings about my first writer’s pay cheque. On the one hand, I am thrilled to have made a sale of my words. I am glad to have partially erased the scepticism I had of living off my art. On the other hand, there is the reality of how many miles this modest cheque can run.

Am I surprised? No. I had been warned about what to expect. Severally. But I ignored those warnings, just as a pregnant teen does. I dove into this headfirst and carried on as these sentences dictated, not bothering to fix a cautious eye on the (financial) consequences of my newfound pocket of freedom.  Am I wiser now than I was before this found me? Yes I am. I have learnt not to have expectations – not of people, not of things, not of situations, not of consequences. Not even of Wanjama’s poker face. Expectations set you up for disappointment. And disappointment can be the reason why a man never makes it to the finishing line. The only person I allow to have expectations of is myself; which means that the only person who can truly disappointment me is myself.

That said, the one way this payday – after three months without one – can become acceptable is if it is taken with the levity it begs. So I laugh. I laugh as I start to take the stairs down to my desk. I get to the landing of the stairwell, pause for a second to finger the cheque and I continue to laugh. I look at the attached print out and remember the thrill of the first publish, now, several weeks later with this cheque in my name, and I break into a rib-cracking laugh. Oh. My. Goodness. I can’t even invite my pals to celebrate with me because I shall go home having ‘squandered’ all my month’s earnings. Sweet Jesus.

I get to my desk and gain some composure. Here’s what I will do: I will cash the cheque with glee. I will use most of it to buy myself a well-done steak dinner. I will wash it down with a bottle of Dolcetto d’Alba red wine. And I will make a toast to new beginnings. And after my lone meal, I will use whatever remains to call a cab home. Pray that there is something left.

I underscore Daft Punk’s philosophy. One of the band members said this of their new album, “We had the luxury to do things so many people cannot do, but it doesn’t mean that with luxury comes comfort.”

Ricky Na Marafiki
the Ol’ Man

Comments (20)

  1. savvy

    I also remember my paltry first check from my published article. It didn’t even amount to 10K but I am proud of it. Now I just write on the side..

    • fra

      It is a good thing artists don’t get into art for the dough.

  2. savvy

    I mean 10K for a month’s work.. weekly articles

  3. Torrie K.

    Awesome piece right there!!Left me in stitches..

    • fra

      Thanks for the read Torrie K. Hang around some more.

  4. Steve O

    I just luv the description of Wanjama and how he carries himself along. Him and the first cheque could be synonymous in meanness.

  5. Gilbert

    We,the unwilling led by the unknowing have done so much for the ungrateful.we have done so much for so long with so little we are now qualified to do anything with nothing………or something like that :-)

  6. Juma Bahati Ali

    I know that feeling! I went through the same although under vastly different circumstances – I was still a student, dead broke halfway through the Semester having already finished those tiny HELB stipends. They called it “honorarium” – a sort of token for publishing my article. It came to 14k so I could hardly complain, though I had expected much more from an internationally syndicated website. Standard rates for freelance writing (per word) can also make one cringe hehehe. But keep at it, nothing is ever easy at first.

    Great read.

  7. Hobbit

    payday indeed..the cheque gave you something to write about so thank it:-):-)

  8. cyndi

    inspiring and funny…..after u bashed him, he cant remember you….clearly!!! u probably didnt harass him enough….it takes courage to follow ur dream..keep on!

    • fra

      Strange one, this Wanjama is.

  9. James Njenga

    This is incredibly a good read. I would love to meet Wanjama. With words, you have painted a picture of him; a picture that I long to see. Kudos.

    • fra

      Cheers James.
      I have read from your blog. Keep writing. And writing some more. We are all in the same journey.

  10. Joan Ngare

    Hahaha..I’ve laughed all through the article. You’re definitely a great storyteller!

  11. Ave Kernyan

    You are hilarious. Couldn’t help bursting into occasional laughter making the people around me believe am high on adulterated weed. This got part got me good:

    ” I have never even seen his goddamn teeth.” Yet he can tell you bawdy things like, ‘Give it to me baby’.

    Keep on writing dear. Afterall your future paycheck doesn’t have a limit. It had to start somewhere though.

    An update of the progress and encounters with wanjama would be nice to read. . Please consider.

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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👇🏾
  • 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