There’s a worm in my bougainvillea

Elizabeth. A name with as much poise as it demands from when you first say it. Elizabeth. It’s regal. Authoritative. Discerning. A quiet sophistication. An ageless mystique.

For a long time into my early twenties, I wondered whether I would measure up to the woman my Mum was. But I seemed to have started off on the wrong foot because of my, err, awkward name. Florence. I never quite know where to place it. And folk have the balls to worsen it and call me Flo. Jesus. I hate it when people call me Flo. What the hell is a Flo? What does it look like, this Flo? What has Flo to offer us?

But seriously, to whom does the name Florence belong? A nurse? History better remembers the second part of her name, not the first. Nightingale, not Florence. A city in Italy? That’s Firenze not Florence. A Christian Saint from the Middle Ages? Florentius. Say that again, let it roll out of your tongue, only this time less steely. Florentius. Florentius.
Elizabeth has always been Elizabeth. Saints, queens and princesses were all Elizabeth. A name which escapes your lips in a savoury and unrushed breath. Eliz’beth.

I put Florence up against Elizabeth and it seems dull, clunky and ill-founded in comparison.

I’ve ran away from this worm for as long as I can remember. (Now would be a good time to tell you about my stints of failed monikers: It started with Klarissa. Then Reese. Trip. Thimble. Button was next.) But I am running away from the wrong thing – I ought to be running away from the absence of my personal stamp. A stamp like my Mum’s.
I’ve asked her many times why she didn’t give me a hip name like my siblings. Here’s a patchwork of her responses: “It’s not your name that people remember. It’s who they are when they are around you that matters. The good things you have gone out of your way to do for them. Sharing with them what little you have left. How you cared for them. How you welcomed them into your home when they were tired from a long day and dined with them at your table. The peace of mind others get simply from knowing that you are there. That feeling they take away with them when they leave your presence, that’s what stays on long after you are gone. Do you understand me?”

I nodded. I smiled, defeated. I didn’t agree with her at the time – I believed that half your life’s battles are solved when you screech out of the womb with a cool name waiting to be tagged on you. But the truism of her words is setting root right now. At 30.

Folk walk in and out of our lives more times than we bother to recall. The names, only the really memorable names precede them. A few colourful ones come to mind – there’s Rhesa (an artsy oddball. I hope you are reading this, Mungai). There’s Twidley (yes, she’s as chirpy as she sounds. It’s as if she approaches you with a little jig). There’s Born (not with an ‘e’ at the end of it. Sadly). There’s Rawlings (he stresses all its characters when he’s making his intro, hehee). I’ve acquainted with one chap called Solace (short, dark and sneaky. I am told he’s the man to know in this town). And there’s Terry (clean, sturdy, versatile and sexy).

Names linger. But it’s the person behind the name that’s for eternity. That’s the real stamp.


PS. That title isn’t mine. It’s a line I stole from some South African indie band that I stole from my kid sis. They don’t have a hip name (ahem) but I’ve had their album, this track in particular, on repeat for the last several weeks. Figures, huh?

Sotik, 1976
Rated R

Comments (4)

  1. Linda

    “It’s the person behind the name that’s for eternity…..” so true!!! My mother is called Florence. When I think of her name, I think of flowers, Flora!!!To me, her name goes further and represents the person that she is. I associate her personality with flowers and warmth and sunshine and everything bright :-)

  2. kmbogo

    ”Names linger. But it’s the person behind the name that’s for eternity. That’s the real stamp.” I will definitely borrow this line in the near future. I like how the story simply…flows!

  3. lizardorange

    Interesting Post. My name is Elizabeth and I hate it, I go by Liz instead, which I’ve eventually come to accept. It’s funny that you describe Elizabeth like you do, it makes it sound so…good? Sometimes people describe me with the some of the words you used, but still say that I don’t look like an Elizabeth. Anyways, all this to say that your post really resonated with me, and my experience of my name. I’ve always wished that I was named my mom’s name, Selina, and I’ve always been jealous of my sister’s name, Zainabu.

    And I thought I kinda liked the nickname Flo before reading this, you made me think otherwise.

    Also: What’s the name of this South African band? And the name of the song? That line is far too interesting.

    • fra

      Hey Lizzie. (See what I did back there? I say it like how that guy, Red, from The Blacklist says it. Lizzie. Complete with that lip-thing and tongue-thing he does. Lizzie. Hehee)

      Thanks a bunch for writing in.

      The band is Beatenberg. Song is track 13, The Prince Of The Hanging Gardens.

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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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