Warning: this is not a toy

At certain hours of a regular workday, I will need space to think. I will need to step away from my desk to let the words stew as I think of what to write next. I will need to step out – alone – to breathe, to catch a cigarette break, chew some bubblegum maybe. And to get some bearing. You get my drift, don’t you? Unfortunately – or fortunately – I don’t work in one of those creative spaces that afford you the luxury of a dart board, a pool table or that little soccer men thingy. Not a creative room. Or a lounge. Not even a bar (and bar tender) to while away in the middle of the day.
You want some creative space? You step out into the gritty streets of tao.

There’s a cedar tree that’s rooted smack in front of my office building. The cedar tree is green all year round. Its small leafed-branches spread out like a parasol. The air beneath it always feels filtered and unrushed. Its only shortcoming is that it doesn’t have one of those wooden benches around it like you’d find in shagz. It has bollards instead.
The shade beneath this cedar tree, this is my space to think – I perch on the bollards for forty minutes then watch tao mill around me. On other days, I become part of the mill, too.

Come on, take a walk with me.

I walk past a shoe shop whose atmosphere is defined by end-month discounts, a looping playlist and bored staff in boring uniform shirts. It seems dark in there, even cold, despite the sunshine. This is one of those joints where guys only jobo as much as they have been asked – there is no personal initiative, no self-drive, not enough anger to fuel the thirst to have more than what you are given. You are asked to go an extra mile and you may as well fling a pair of discounted loafers at your boss before you do. Staff bitch to each other over lunch then return to their workstations to continue the afternoon shift as they did the morning shift. Institutionalize, that’s what it does to them. Kills their spirit. Ever been to one of such joints?
I saunter past and shake my head in second thought.
I could be wrong, you know – I am on the outside looking in. Whatever I see here is only one side of the story, one that I am choosing to tell to myself. To tell you right now. Am I being fair, really, judging their energy as I am? I momentarily catch eyes with the guy standing behind the cash register. His shirt is a different colour from the others. He has a twinkle in his eye that the others don’t.
Nah. I am being fair.

I keep walking.

I am at the traffic lights now waiting to cross the street… 10... Depending on how you chose to look at the lights and the street … 9… this may as well be a countdown to something you can only find on the other side of the street. Something great. That’s, of course, assuming you have the balls to cross the street. If ever you needed a sign… 8 … a message, a kiss from the heavens that you ready to go right now then watch out for the green light… 7… I pause before I cross the street. I shut my eyes to breathe. Pause. I want to remember what it feels like to be on this side of the street. I want to remember what it feels like to not have what I will find when I find what I find on the other side…6… I want to capture everything about this moment. Everything damn it. But the countdown won’t wait for you to, Love… 5… Move. Now… 4… More often than not… 3… I am tempted to do star jumps and two steps and moonwalks across the street. A little victory dance … 2 … one of those corny ones that seem cool because it came from you right in that moment of victory… 1… Everybody has one of those… Red light… I do mine.

I keep walking.

I am at DT Dobie now. I walk past the guards at the door, past what looks like staff parking and used-cars yard, and into the Mercedes showroom. I look at the four cars – two C-classes, one E-class and one S-class – lined up facing the street, then walk straight to the desk in the corner. There, I meet the saleslady sitting behind the desk. Maureen, she says pointing to her name tag. Maureen has the practised chirpiness of a saleslady – she talks too eagerly and too close into my ears. A heavy breather. I tell her I am shopping around.

“What do you want the car for?” she asks.

“Business,” I say without hesitation. It was a lie.

We get into the E-class. Let’s take a moment to breathe in this air of privilege, shall we? Nothing about this… this machinery… has been left to chance. Everything was built, not made. Parts and pieces were placed next to each other then joined in a process that is best described as ethereal. Take the upholstery of the driver’s seat I am in right now – I imagine they imported a school of blind Italian cobblers to hand-stitch this fine leather. A bunch of skilled men who relied on the intuition of their senses to work: one who listened to how assertively the leather moaned as it unfolded in his open palms. He traced its textured surface using the tips of his cracked fingers. He told of its age and origin from bringing it close to his nose and sniffing it. Licking it, even. His blinded eyelids squeezed tighter when he acknowledged that Mercedes has once again got the Artico leather right. Only then did he bring his needle and thread to it. Ethereal.

“Let me get you the keys,” Maureen says, interrupting my thoughts.

She bundles back into the car then instructs me how to turn him, sorry, it on. The sound of that engine. Jesus.

“Step on the gas,” she urges in a whisper.

I do.

Sweet heavens.

I sigh.

I am not weary with thought because of the entirety of this beastly machinery, this Mercedes. I am weary because of the deservedness of the workmanship in the details. This is how things are to be built. (And made.) With thought and care and finesse, and materials with standards of longevity. Get this: I just moved into a digs that feels like it’s still under construction – electric ducts are poking out of the walls, splashes of cement are strewn across the kitchen and bathroom tiles, corners don’t meet at right angles, windows cracked and walls chipped two days into living there. Surely. It disgusts me to think that a contractor somewhere walked around that completed house work and stamped it as good to go. It’s not that I want to live in a castle of sorts, no, I simply want a solid build.
If we can’t afford the fine things that we dream and want, why the hell do we even bother working?

Maureen and I get out the car and she takes my details. I pocket her card.

Early the next morning, I receive an email from her. She has kept her word, and done as she said she would. I like that. Her email tells me to find “brochures for the C-class and E-class as well as specifications for some of the models that I did not get to see”. Neat, aye?

Where can I find that damn contractor to forward these brochures to?

I keep walking.

I pass an ugly building that squats on the outskirts of tao. I bought my laptop here over a year ago. Had I not been so comfortable with tao, I swear, I would never have imagined leaving my crisp clean bills in this building whose stairwell reeked of urine, old mattresses and fresh mold. “Don’t touch the walls. Don’t touch the banisters. Don’t touch the door knobs. Don’t touch anything. Keep your hands to yourself,” such were the warnings from my pal as we took the stairs to the sixth floor of the building. In the same breath, my pal also told me that Uncle Njenga expects a certain type of mutual business etiquette from the people he works with, “Be smart when you speak to him.” Err, OK. What is this, the mafia?

Uncle Njenga’s store is located in the far right corner of the sixth floor. But it isn’t a store, this is a dusty scrap yard for computers and old computer parts. It can only hold two and a half filed customers at a time – my pal has one foot in here and the other in the corridor. I am squeezed between him and a kid selling boiled eggs. When he’s done with his biashara, my pal and I pour into the corridor to give room to the kid to get out.

The laptop materializes somewhere from amidst all the junk: it’s lighter and sleeker than the borrowed laptop I’d been using. But it looks like it was stolen from a Danish tourist at the airport – its keyboard has foreign keys, its edges scratches from personalized used.

So I ask Uncle Njenga, “Is this stolen?”

My pal gave me a what-the-hell look.

“No,” Uncle Njenga says as he slides it from my hands and returns it to its sleeve, “it isn’t. I brought them in from the UK last week.” I can’t tell if he is offended or not. I realize that I’m falling out of favour with him so I break into some IT jargon that keeps he and I engaged for the next half hour.

My pal would later tell me that Uncle Njenga still asks after me.

I keep walking.

I zigzag my way around tightly congested human bodies. I take the bus home from here. Everybody in this God-forsaken side of tao has a story much different from those in the upper side. When I am seated in the bus waiting for it to get full, I usually overhear their conversations and see how they stand around talking to each other.

What you’ll realize is that everyone is after one thing, and one thing only: money. These people are here because they don’t have freedom of choice, or the choice of freedom. Money gives you both – it’s the sine qua non of choice and freedom. But there’s isn’t new money or old money as we know it. There’s is a no-questions-asked type of money. The type I’ve creepily become obsessed with of late.

Men here shake hands – they don’t sign contracts or exchange promissory notes. The deal is sealed when the sweat in your palms crosses from my hands to yours, when we look into each others’ eyes as we pump our clenched hands and nod to the deal. It’s your word that counts.

I keep walking.

I am back to my desk now. One crazy idea crosses my mind as I put the final touches to this piece: Is it weird that I want to douse tao in paraffin and watch it slowly burn to the ground?

Does this blouse make me look like a magician?
You lie, there is no right or wrong answer

Comments (4)

    • fra

      I like your new avatar – simple, strong.

      Happy New Year, Magunga.

  1. Lomodong

    Fcbett nice read……uskajali ‘one day’ at a time and one day the merc will be yours!

    • fra

      I pray so.

      Thanks for reading, Lomodong. And thanks for the comment.
      Happy New Year.

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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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