Every girl has a pocket of mischievous secrets. And every girl has the one boy who will spill his own blood before he spills any of these secrets.

If you want in on the mischief your girl has been up to around town, you don’t ask her pals. Or her Moms. You don’t inspect the hemlines of her jeans or the heels of her shoes. Don’t try to read in between the sentences of her conversations or her text messages. Not even her status updates – you won’t gather any intel from those quarters. If you want to know what mischief a girl has been up to, you ask the one person who knows more than he lets on, her insider. You ask the creator of her blacklist. You ask her boy. You ask Thomas.

Thomas was my moti (for those not conversant with Nairobi slang, that’s a car). Thomas was a fine piece of sturdy machinery. A brute. A beast only my leash could contain. Thomas. The epitome of matchmaking. The conviction that I choose well. Oh Thomas. My loyal servant on some days, his on most.

It was artfullyContrived and Savvy Kenya who exchanged comments on this blog, between chuckles, that I talk plenty about my car, “It must mean a lot to her.” I said it did. “You should dedicate a post to it [fra].” I said I would. I said it would read like a eulogy. And true to those words, this is what Thomas and I boiled down to: dedications and eulogies.

I’ve been with Thomas now for four years. Flogged him off some Co-op Bank guy in Coasto. Like most anyone’s first moti, it wasn’t the easiest thing to let go of Thomas. But it is easier when done.  Every morning for the last two weeks of December, I stood at the kitchen window with a cup of tea in my hand, watching him, making excuses for my decision to see him go to someone else. Reminiscing. I didn’t drive, clean or ride him up until this final day to make the exchange with his new owner in tao. I simply watched.


When you are the first of your seven siblings to get a moti, it brings you together in a way that isn’t your regular bonding. It’s suddenly cool to sit in the moti, stationary, in the hood’s parking – windows rolled down, doors shut and music playing from the stereo – for over an hour with nowhere to go. As if it’s what, 1993? Or you are out for petty errands with a moti packed full of everyone. Or your Sunday afternoons are reserved for cleaning it at home. Such strange behaviour.
But it also brings to the surface fault lines in your relationship. You harp about ‘trust and communication’ when one of them has the moti’s keys. Here’s how: you have been away for a weekend to return to find the trunk and back bumper sticky with fresh paint. Its only when it flies open mid traffic do you realize something major went down over the weekend. Or, away for a week to return to the two front tyres replaced. Away for a month, the windbreakers are missing. Away for another month, and it’s a BMW parked instead of Thomas. “Dude, where’s my car?”


Motis ask that you tend them as a mother would her first child – he takes priority, and none of his bills are open for option or negotiation. You settle them without question. You settle them irrespective of your month’s budget. You settle them because Thomas asked that you to. No one questions Thomas.

Learning to balance his demands with yours is tricky in the first months of having him. And before you learn how much car tyres or shocks cost, or what things like ‘gasket’ and ‘fan belt’ and ‘drive shaft’ and ‘bushes’ mean, you will reconsider once or twice whether you made the right call to own one. Never mind that the fuel gauge is constantly on ‘E’.

But all these concerns are diluted when you become part of a milieu that consider the definitive measure of career progression a moti  which creates an illusion of the city being your borderless playground. A falsehood that it is yours for the taking. And in this haze of liberation, you do stuff only your moti knows, and should only ever know, about.


I had a run in with the law twice.

The first time was in mid September, four years ago. Saturday morning at Biashara Street. In my mindless naivety, I told a parking attendant to watch the moti for me as I nipped in to buy two items – a breast pump and baby diapers – for my pal who would birth twin boys later that evening.  It’s a lesson you learn on your own, that these guys are in cahoots with City Council. No one tells you you shouldn’t double park until/after you have double parked.

I am paying for the stuff when the announcement is made: someone’s moti is being towed. Are you in here? Heavens. I ran outside. Standing there, I can’t tell who looked more dumb and more helpless: Thomas with his big ‘L’ plates being noisily hoisted up the ground, or me looking on with a bag of breast pump and baby diapers.

I ride in the tow truck shotgun. Let me tell you this, urban psychological torture is in driving aimlessly around tao in a City Council truck, squeezed between three uniforms, with a bag of breast pump and diapers crushed to your face. I suppose this is what it felt like to take the train ride to Auschwitz. Torture. I swear I have never used the words ‘aki mkubwa’ so many times in one sitting. Nothing could save me.

At City Hall thirty minutes later, I am booked for a traffic offence. Four grand five to bail me and Thomas out: towing fee and unclamping fee. Like I mentioned earlier, when it comes to Thomas, you settle his bills without question.

The second time was in July, a year later. Early Saturday evening. My two girls and I were on our way to Hurlingham from K1. Enroute, we were talking trash about some chick from campus; Wambui, or someone with that nameface. I had a particularly trashy episode from senior year and as I opened my mouth to speak, I didn’t notice joining the University Way roundabout with a trailer. It wasn’t until we got midway that I realized I this guy would plow into me: I could either reverse into the other side of the roundabout, or accelerate to leave the roundabout before he did. Neither happened; the trailer’s tail smacked Thomas clean across his left side, like a slap across your cheek – there was a thud from the impact, the girls screamed, reverberations ripped through the moti. Dust. Then silence. The trailer sped off. No one was injured except for Thomas.

I spent the following Sunday afternoon making friends with Officer Munyao at Central Police Station. Monday, between the bank and insurance company learning what is meant by ‘excess’. That afternoon, I dropped Thomas off at a garage near T-Mall. I swear I heard him whimper as I left. Hell, I know I did.

It took seventeen days to fix him but he never quite felt the same afterwards. Thomas seemed rickety, less certain of himself, his brute weakened, his sturdiness compromised. But I didn’t care for that – as I cruised down Mbagathi Way that evening, all that mattered was that he was back. I spoke to him with the vulnerable whisper of a woman in love, “I missed you Thomas.”

The engine purred in response.

“No, I don’t think you understand what I am saying Thomas. I missed you.”

The engine purred longer.

“I missed you every moment, and I thought about you every day you were away.”

The engine purred harder.

“Don’t you ever do that to me again, do you hear me Thomas? Don’t you ever do that to me again. Don’t you ever leave me.”

The engine roared.


Now, waiting here in tao and looking on for the final few moments he is mine, I feel my throat choke up with emotion. Oh Thomas. Thomas has taken care of me, given me a taste of the urban life. I had a good run with Thomas – he has my secrets, far too many of them. He has history. He has scars. He has scratches and bruises from all of my siblings’ fender benders. But most of all, he has personality. Jamo, his new owner, has bagged himself a moti with personality.

Jamo had looked at the moti three weeks before Christmas. He tested it in the first week. We bargained in the week after. He went quiet for another week. On Christmas morning, he calls to tell me he’ll have the moti. I agreed. I told him I needed one more week to say goodbye. He agreed. He told me to he’d meet me in tao for the pickup. I agreed. Neither of us bothered to wish the other a Merry Christmas.

Jamo arrives.

Jamo is a second generation Nairobian: a self-made man who left his sleepy rural town to build his auto empire from the sweat of his back and the sly manipulation of his tongue. His headful of hair is suggestive of a man who was handsome when he was younger. He has a naughty twinkle in his eye. Jamo is salacious in his private conversations, deceitfully naive in his public ones; underlying this is the natural ease with which he carries himself. He laughs with his tongue in cheek – literally and figuratively – as if he’s hiding an unsightly tooth. He likes to tell me stories, to gossip. To play the puppet even when it’s clear he is the one pulling the strings. He is a heavy smoker, a light drinker. His hoarse voice is thick with village accent. Jamo is Meru, which explains the entirety of his bad-boy mien.

I’ve known Jamo now for three years. Before I realised that his street credit was built from using manipulation as a business tool, my feelings toward him oscillated between disgust and admiration, sympathy and fury. I am uncertain to whether the trust I later developed in him is genuinely my own or an outcome of his puppetering.

This afternoon – sitting in the moti finalizing business – Jamo tells me about the success he’s been having with his biashara; the few difficult months he’s had were because of an employee who had been stealing from him. Then he tells me about the anguish of losing both his parents in a space of three months last year.  Before I can say pole, he switches the conversation to ask me how my niece is doing. And when I plan to settle down and have babies of my own. He tells me I look awfully laid back these days. By this time, Jamo is whispering; his half-lowered unblinking eyes linger on mine a tad longer than necessary. His fingers, stained with nicotine, draw little circles around my knee. Eugh. I clear my throat then direct him to the dashboard to explain the problem the fuel sensor has had since October. He tells me not to worry about it, that he’ll take care of it. Silence, more staring. Jamo notices I am not quite OK. He asks to listen to the engine as he drops me home.

At my doorstep, Jamo wants to know when we can meet up for soda to clear the remainder of the paperwork. I tell him to call me on Wednesday. He bites his lower lip and says sawa, “Tuonane Wednesday Bett-y.” He winks. I laugh out loud.

I watch Thomas’s drive away from me for the final time. The sentimental memories of his sturdy behind engraved in the bumper sticker affixed to his right side. It read: Relax. God is in control.

I need a cigarette.

One for the road
Eight simple rules

Comments (14)

  1. The Real G

    There there fra.
    Now onto the article…I think your description of James in stellar, especially the paragraph beginning “Jamo is a second generation Nairobian…” I say this because I know someone called James who fits your description. And I shall introduce him to this blog through this post.

    You are growing, though the way you end your post reminds me a lot of Biko, or maybe its just me.
    Nice read.

    • fra

      Thanks Real G. And it’s good to hear from you again.

      Based on my last post, your second-to-last line leaves me pouty.

      • The Real G

        Come on, get that pout out of your face. I am a Biko addict, perhaps I see him everywhere. Point was, you write very well.

  2. dskuwe

    ‘…helpless: Thomas with his big ‘L’ plates being noisily hoisted up the ground, or me looking on with a bag of breast pump and baby diapers.’

    ‘I ride in the tow truck shotgun. Let me tell you this, urban psychological torture is in driving aimlessly around tao in a City Council truck, squeezed between three uniforms, with a bag of breast pump and diapers crushed to your face. I suppose this is what it felt like to take the train ride to Auschwitz. Torture. I swear I have never used the words ‘aki mkubwa’ so many times in one sitting. Nothing could save me.’

    You really painted a picture with words. Nice imagery. All that was missing was some slow and sad violin music.

  3. Steve O

    Just can’t stop laughing as I read this post. What “Thomas” has done to you and so many of us and still continues to do, wacha tu. The “aki mkubwa” sessions have never been pleasant. Luvly post.

  4. Ian Macharia

    I totally share your sentiments on “Thomas” (I named mine Krispy), It was hard letting of my first car too. I remember reaching to the car park from work only to remember that I sold the car yesterday. Despite me getting another one not too long after, I was still filled with nostalgia seeing Krispy almost everyday on Ngong road with her new owner, wondering if he treats her as good as I used to or better even. I had definitely poured my heart n soul into Krispy. I met the owner almost 2 years later and he asks me if i had another car to sell to him, because the one I sold him still ran smooth even his mechanic was amazed at how well Krispy had aged.

    • fra

      Thanks for coming by here Ian.

      You didn’t get closure with Krispy, did you? Hehhe

  5. Jurgen

    Now you have veered into abstract and it tastes nice.. I am a reader who tastes literature, I feel it move around my mouth like smooth wine.
    A good one FC

  6. Evans T

    Been a while since my last visit. Good Stuff still goin’ on. Nonetheless, What’s in name? In other words, who’s Thomas, the real Thomas?

  7. yosefkim

    We had a Caldina. When it is a shared family car, it is a problem car, it is a man or a woman depending on who is driving it. It was our hermaphrodite Caldina. I called her the cat. When I was driving the family around, I treated her like a fat cat, half asleep on a sofa with a twitching tail and purring softly asking to be fed. When I was alone, I asked her to shed her inhibition and release the cat in her. We roared down streets, we did not slow down. We raced you, caught you and left you in the dust. She loved to be set free to run wild…she was a Tigre.

    We sold her…the cat has a new owner. I will never recover.

    Thank you for this piece.


    • fra

      Hehhehe. You will never recover alright.

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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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