The Red Stereo

Growing up, we had a small red Fiat. It fit perfectly in our stonewalled compound, and whenever I wasn’t watching cartoons I would be found inside the car, with my tiny hands outstretched to hold both sides of the wheel and my short legs failing to reach the pedals. I would make engine sounds with my mouth and imagine myself speeding through traffic. At the end of it all I would have a shirt full of drool and a locked steering wheel. The latter usually meant the end of the game, and I would go back to my cartoons.

There’s one particular Sunday afternoon I vividly remember. The sun was out and dad was having his afternoon nap and mom was watching TV. Apart from the house help knocking utensils in the kitchen, the house was mostly silent. I was in the car drooling all over my shirt, just your normal Sunday afternoon, really.

In those days, Dad never put the handbrake when he stepped out the car. That day I somehow put the gear in reverse. I was then aware of the verandah wall; it seemed to be moving forward. And before I could realize what was happening, the Fiat had backed up into the gate. The noise that came out of the crash was loud as hell and I cried my eyes out. Meanwhile the gate had snapped open and some estate folk witnessed this spectacle with equally loud laughs.

The Fiat was old. The bodywork had a simple design, but you still couldn’t help but feel like it was built for the heavy-footed driver who liked to squeeze through narrow spaces. You got the feeling it was made to do a bit of running, and you especially noticed when, at high gear, the car would squeal with delight.

Its interior was brown and black, and there was often a rattling noise that came from the dashboard.  There was always something to fix, like the carburetor, for instance. The Fiat – after spending some time in the cold, say, at night – would fail to start because its fuel injection system became weak. What this meant was that, most mornings, we’d have to call our regular mechanic to come and manually jerk the thing back to life.

The doors also never closed properly unless you banged them shut, and it was terribly easy for the car to get stuck in a puddle of rain water.

But the biggest trouble with the Fiat – according to me at least – was the stereo system. You couldn’t get it to work without having the engine started. We could only get to listen to the radio when the car was moving, which meant that I had nothing to entertain me as I raced past imaginary drivers. Even though I didn’t mind the quiet whenever I sat in the cabin of the Fiat, sometimes it got deathly quiet and it was mighty unsettling.

The next car we had, however, a white Nissan with surprisingly good leg room, came with a stereo system whose marvelous design turned me back into a little boy. The clarity of music that came out of it was nothing short of exhilarating and the buttons were smooth, came alive with a red glow. It also had a thin slot for inserting CDs.  Whenever you’d hit the eject button, the disc would be spat out with a whirling noise. Sometimes the disc would fail to chuck completely. But at least with this one you didn’t have to ignite the engine.

I often wondered how it would look if it was installed in the Fiat. It would have certainly made my imaginary racing a bit more thrilling.

Of course there have been cooler stereos since then, but I have never come across that same kind of stereo that was in the Nissan.

Until last week.

It was a slow Saturday afternoon. I was seated on the side of my bed, staring out the window, doing some idle thinking. The house was quiet, as quiet as it had been in the Fiat. The sun was just dipping into the horizon and the sky was turning purple. The soles of my feet were resting on my rug and the sun rays were piercing through the window, falling on the floating dust particles with fiery colour.

The room was pleasantly warm and comforting, but it quickly turned into a drizzle of sadness that stretched endlessly in every direction. Even the dusty rug didn’t help.

I had grown tired of my room. The four walls felt like they were closing in on me. I needed to get out.

So what I did, I cooked up an excuse to step outside. I told my folks I was swinging by the movie shop. It was far better than saying the truth, which was that I craved a cigarette. I threw on my favorite jacket and walked out.

The night air bit into my face and I thought to go back and settle for a warm sloppy shower. But that would have only worked up until I dried myself with a towel. I live in the snoozy brow of Kitengela; to get to the town you have to take a mat. The one I got was a small van that had no more than eight passengers. When the tout slid the door open for me I sat on the front row, just behind the driver, who had a bony elbow stuck out the window, and who, when he changed gear, quickly let go of the wheel. The gear change sounded like squelching gravel and the van smelled distinctly like a goat shed.

And then I saw it.

A red glowing stereo implanted on the dashboard of the van. It was already dark outside and the interior lighting of the van was a weak green. There was a passenger seated at the back who was shouting into his cell. The person he was talking to must have been somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, surely.

Wacha tu. Nitakuja kesho basi,” he said into the phone.

Then he went quiet, listening to the sailor on the other end.

Nasema, wachana tu nayeye nitakuja.

Quiet again.

Hapana. Nasema…

The sailor was clearly not getting it.

My eyes were still stuck to the stereo. The evening news was on and the latest political juice was being reported by a deep soothing voice in crisp Swahili; something about Rao and NASA, obviously. The stereo screen had the word CITIZEN, written in numeric font. I wondered how many people had heard that presenter’s voice, how many souls had been massaged by that voice, as the way it did mine. I wondered how many lives had been changed by that voice. I mean, people hear all sorts of things in the news. Had that voice delivered some disheartening news to someone in that van?

As I looked out the window, at the dry savannah grass rolling by, the green cabin light getting stronger (and being generally unappreciative of the blessings of a warm home) I thought about the number of prayers that have been said in that van. I once sat next to a woman on the way to Nakuru who held a rosary between her palms and fingered every bead. She did this over and over again until the journey was over.

When I got off the mat that day, I suddenly wasn’t feeling so crappy anymore. I caught the next ride back home, but I still couldn’t help but wonder how many goats had travelled in that van. I imagined one on its way to the slaughter house. And I thought, whoever was going to sink his teeth into its meat would never know that, minutes before its death, the goat had been kept calm by a voice on the evening news.


Dusty Rug
The Ghost of Facebook Girl

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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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