Art and Craft

Our mothers raise us with the best of what they know about being mums. Nobody is taught to be a mum. It’s a watch-and-learn as they grow up themselves. They pick up tools and tips and tricks and titbits from every conceivable corner as they mature in the ways of the world, and they stash it away in a secret box they keep locked away in the corners of their minds. They observe, they listen, they ask. They laugh with others (sometimes at others. Shamelessly so), they sympathize, they offer to help them when they can (even when they know they can’t), they bend over backwards. They pray for grace and patience and wisdom. Then they wait. They wait for us – the kids they will bring out their secret box for. The kids they will try to be the best mums, the best versions of themselves they can be, for. The kids who will test their tenacity on parenting and motherhood. Let’s see how far I can stretch myself for this one, they say.

Then they have us. We finally show face.

They think they have it all figured out. But they don’t. The secret box suddenly seems ill-equipped, outdated and useless. Unnecessarily bulky. And musty – what the hell have you been stashing in there anyway? They prepared to be mums, but they weren’t ready. Preparation counts for little when you have this…this person – a blank canvas, a mound of clay, a block of wood, a raw beat – that you must colour and mould and chip and fine-tune. So they fling the secret box away and roll up their sleeves as they scrutinize, truly, for the first time, what sits before them.

Then they begin to get their hands dirty.

You cannot be ready to be a mum, that’s what she told me. You can prepare for it with every purchase for your baby’s closet, every new-moms support group you actively participate, every blog you subscribe to, every baby shower you attend. You stash your home library with books and videos. You stash your secret box with every tale from the old wives’ club.

But you only prepare for birth, but not for motherhood – the craft and the art to being a mum.

When it gets down to it, you take the ball and run with it. You watch and respond. You are reactive, and somewhat foolish, before you learn to be proactive. You follow your gut and listen to your inner voice. You read your kids, you don’t read books about kids. You study them and take notes about them, notes that are so individually tailored you can’t export them as a manual to raise another of your kids.

And this is where you look back in hindsight and conclude that your Mum didn’t get this part right with you: she blanketed her disciplining across her seven kids. Your Mum wasn’t one of you modern parents who negotiated with her errant kids or sent them to the corner for a timeout. She was as traditional as they were made back then. She neither worried about hurting your feelings, your asses or falling out of favour with you. Nor did she worry about how loudly you cried or how much you slithered like an injured snake around her feet as she disciplined you.
You err, you get whooped with her sosiot. Simple.

Quick rundown: A sosiot (read as sosio-th) is a special type of stick they use to clean the gourd that holds the fermenting milk. The gourd is a sotet (again, read as so-th-e-th) and the fermenting milk is mursik. You have heard of mursik, haven’t you? When akina Vivian Cheruiyot and her ilk are checking in at the airport after winning golds and silvers in international sports events, there’s always an elder with a sotet full of mursik at hand to force it down the throat of one of these unsuspecting medallists. That always cracks me up, hehee.
The sotet is dotted with black fire spots. And they have this handmade lids made of cow hide and lined with beads. Intricate and beautiful work. The lids hang from the neck of the gourd on a piece of soft leather. The sosiot is narrow and curved at one end, like a walking stick. Just long enough to reach the bottom of the sotet.
My Mum brewed her own mursik in our kitchen from time to time. It has the same romanticism as saying you brew your own wine, or that you churn your own butter, doesn’t it?
The gourds would be aligned in neat rows in the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink. And every two, three days, she’d get a sosiot to stir the mursik. Then she’d run the sosiot through water and take them out to the sun to dry, ready for the next stir. It’s all part of the fermentation process.

She didn’t throw them out once the mursik had brewed. Nah. She’d dry and harden them in the sun for a week or more then stow them far from our sight. The sosiot, this is what she used to whoop the indiscipline off our skinny behinds. This was her weapon of choice.

Do you remember those Satos when you stayed out too late playing with kina Nana from #17 and she’d be waiting for you at the door; the sosiot in her right hand, her left akimbo? And she had this thing where she bit her bottom lip to show she was mad. The tighter the bite, the madder she was. If she had her red slippers on, you knew you were in for a bigger beating. Because when she knew you weren’t getting enough from the sosiot, she’d fling it aside and reach for her slippers. Scream, child. Scream. I’m not hurting you, I’m loving you. This is how a mother shows she cares.
A primary school teacher for a mum with a sosiot in her hand, tell me that wasn’t a kid’s worst nightmare?

But you weren’t that type of kid, the type of kid who had her discipline meted out so. You were far from hardy. You were needy. And a woose. Your hands were too soft, your thighs too thundery and your bottom too squishy to withstand the whooping of her sosiot. You’d cry before she even started it. Saying you were sorry got you nowhere, you had already crossed the Rubicon. And you were too shaken to ask her not to whoop you. You imagine she derived some sort of sick pleasure from seeing the red streaks of her sosiot criss-cross your guilty skin. So you took it like a cowboy and numbed your emotions for as long as she had the energy to whoop you. A part of you hardened.
But that’s not the worse part. The worst part is that you can’t have a glass of mursik to date because you associate it to the whoopings you received as a child. Your mum injured you for life, heehe. You need professional help to dissociate the two – Oprah? Dr Phil? Anyone?

You believe your Mum got it wrong with you here. You wanted dialogue and diplomacy. If you’d have had a sit-down with her to explain just why you broke her Sunflower thermos and pinned it on your kid bro, maybe she would have told you to be more careful next time before she gave you a hug. You and she would have met on a level of maturity you insist you deserved as a child. Sober resolution of conflicts. Smart meets smart. Intelligent logic would have tramped the physical brutality of her beatings any day.

But who am I to speak when I haven’t run a mile in her shoes, anyway? I am not on the right side of the fence. I don’t have the authority to stand by my convictions. My observations and suggestions are as theoretical as they are outlandish; its stuff I’ve picked up from reading Dr Dobson and watching Modern Family.

She had it right all along; you will understand that one day. Being a mum is about being an artist.

A crafty artist.

Broads, bumps and bellows
Mister Singer

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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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