Exes and Texts

My nanny split. Two weeks into the New Year, on a Sunday evening, around the time she should have been making her way back home after her day off, she sent me a long text. “Nimeona sitaendelea na kazi…” it began.

I let out a long deflating sigh. What did she mean ‘she didn’t want to carry on with her job’? Did she want a promotion, a rework of her JD? Had she reached a plateau in her career and wanted a challenge, one outside my home? Did she want me to get another baby so she could relive those early days of being needed around the clock? Because I could, it’s really not that difficult to, I could. Was she bored? Did she feel she’d outlived her purpose in our lives? I didn’t understand it. I’d been with her for a year and three months – she’d moved in to our house in late October 2015, two weeks before Muna was born. As far as nannies go, she was all I knew. She was all Muna knew.

Her text went on to say that she’d apply for her ID card (she’d been pick pocketed in the bus to Busia over Christmas) then look for work elsewhere. She signed off with a plan to settle her debt, “nitaanza kukulipa immediately nikiingia kazi.

She didn’t say goodbye.

This sucked. This bloody sucked. It wasn’t how I’d imagined our day would end. Muna, GB and I had had a great day as a family: we’d made it early to church that morning, Muna had snacked on mangoes and squealed around the pulpit as the preacher wielded his Bible to the flock. (She reminded me of that Emmanuel kid from the Old Testament.) After church we went for brunch then had an afternoon swim.

It was also a fun day of firsts: the first time as an Anglican family to church, the first time I’d breastfed Muna while wearing a dress, the first time I’d styled her hair into three scattered buns, the first time she and I swam together, the first time I’d rocked a two-piece since giving birth, the first time I had to threaten GB with punishment if he didn’t get out of the pool (it’s the heated water he couldn’t get enough of).

It had been a glorious day on all accounts.

(By the way, I later saw the swimming photos and they told a different story. Muna looked undeniably unhappy in my arms. When she wasn’t choking on the chlorine water she’d swallowed, she was crying because she was terrified; she didn’t seem to understand why there was so much water around her and what we were doing in it in the first place. As for me and my two-piece, hhmm. In my head, I looked a certain kind of sexy, the kind you get from being comfortable and accepting of what your body has become since pregnancy then childbirth. Truth is, I didn’t look as sexy as I felt. Bouncing around in that pool with Muna, I looked like a sponge that had sucked in too much water.)

I needed to calm down, so I waited an hour before doing anything about her, my nanny’s, sudden departure. When we got home, I went to her room and checked her wardrobe. She had cleared it. Cleared it like a form four clearing his locker from a boarding school he hated. I let out another deflating sigh. Jesus. I picked up the phone and called her.

Let me be clear about this: I wasn’t calling to ask her to return. Ah ah. That storo was already done and dusted. I was calling to ask her why: why she’d thrown me under the bus and left without giving me notice; why she didn’t want the tears and hugs of  proper goodbyes; why she’d left with my basket from Nanyuki, the one I’d told her she could have just because. Couldn’t she have left the bloody basket behind, surely?

Most importantly, I wanted to ask her why she hadn’t given me a chance to say asante. She had been a great help, after all – attentive to mine and Muna’s needs, patient to my shortcomings as a new mum, thoughtful, disciplined with the cleaning and cooking (her chapos were to die for, and she stewed her cabbage with only garlic), prayerful, an engaging conversationalist, playful, silly. There was never a dull moment when hanging out with her.

And to top it up, quite the lovely bird – she had youthful dark and elastic skin, fleshy earlobes with gold earrings studded in, healthy ankles and a forehead that fit in her my cupped palm. I don’t want to sound like I’d fallen in love with her – which I may have – but she had this flirty twinkle in her eyes when she laughed. That beautiful beautiful laugh; it crowned her sunny personality. She was… perfect.

I’d always been aware of how impermanent our relationship would be though. I was under no illusion that her loyalty would run until Muna and all her unborn brothers and sisters went to high school, as she’d promised me time and again. I knew she would leave someday sooner than she knew it. Just not on that day.

On phone, I only told her to come over Monday we chat. She said OK. Monday, she was no show. She ignored my calls and texts all day. I was beginning to feel like a jilted lover. Tuesday, I sent her an angry text to reel her in. She responded. I sent a longer and angrier text in response. She responded. Back and forth until she finally said it, “I’m sorry, Mama Muna.”

I let out one last deflating sigh, smiled to myself then called the bureau to send me her replacement.

I’d found my closure. She was now an ex.

The bureau is run my pal Grace, it’s called Aunty Ann Agency. Aunty Ann trains domestic workers – nannies, house helps, cooks, cleaners – for hire and placement. They used to be based in Westy but now they’re on Thika Road. I’d interviewed Grace for a magazine feature some years back and we were now in that delicate place of our relationship where she felt obliged to do something in return for the mileage my story had given her business. I asked her to get me the best nanny she could find. I told her I wanted a Lunje because they are hard workers who know how to put in value per the hour, and preferably someone that had lived in, and in a house that had kids.

“I’ll get you someone very good, Bett,” she said on phone. In her voice, I heard the conviction of knowing she had this pool of trained resources that were waiting for her to cherry pick. She sounded like the boss bitch, and that gave me immense comfort.

Grace sent me someone at 4PM that same Tuesday.

This new ‘someone’ was a Lunje, yes, and was tall and red-eyed. Her hair was styled into cornrows that reminded me of Jua Cali. She walked as if she were a ghost floating around a haunted house. She spoke softly and looked down at her feet while she did, had little eye contact. She came with only a small paper bag of clothes, told me she’d collect the rest from her sister’s place on Saturday.

I oriented her around the digs with Muna on my hip then we went into the kitchen to discuss salo and jobo specific to Muna. I cracked a few bad jokes but she didn’t laugh. This unsettled me; where was her sense of humour? Also, why hadn’t she asked any questions about anything or tried to make friends with Muna? Why wasn’t she excited about this new opportunity? Was I the only one embracing change?

The next day, on Wednesday, I stayed in to work at home because I wanted to see how she’d do with Muna. But Muna just couldn’t stop crying or stop banging on my bedroom door where I’d set up my laptop. At one point, I had to let her in then tie her on my back and bend over my desk so I could send some emails.

I went to jobo the next day but I swear I could still hear Muna crying from wherever I was.

The thing with this new nanny is that the house where she’d worked before, in Langata, had three kids under ten that were all going to school. So I suppose she was used to doing housework at her pace and time, chilling around the digs all day catching TV and dancing around in her underwear (heehe). Now here she was with a toddler on a strict routine, one which had to be followed by the hour. A toddler who demanded attention throughout the day – who needed to be read to and sang to – and wouldn’t let you sit idle for more than 30 minutes without whining that you take her outside to play. Plus a mum, a mum who called in two times a day to ask such banal questions as ‘Amekula?’ ‘Amelala?’ ‘Amecheza?’ ‘Ame poopoo? Hiyo poopoo inakaa aje?’ ‘Aliacha kulia?’

Thursday afternoon, I texted Grace and told her to get me someone else. “I’m just not feeling this new girl,” I said.

“Give her time to learn how to do things your way,” Grace texted back reassuringly.

“She’s really good with the cooking and the cleaning,” I texted, “but she’s not good with the baby. And that’s the most important thing right now. I need her to be good with the baby.”

Grace got me someone else Friday. I asked Grace to send her to my office so we could do a quick interview.

Nanny Viv was a puny dark chick with great hair, and a sharp mouth and sharper voice. She walked in small quick steps, so it always appeared that she was in a hurry to go somewhere. Nanny Viv told me she had three kids of her own – a boy-girl set of twins in kindergarten and another boy in class three; they were living with her mum in Kitale. I asked her why she’d left her last place of work and she shrugged and said, Hivyo tu. Later, when we became pals, she confided that Baba wa Nyumba had become this lecherous lurker who had the idiotic manners of retired pimp (my words, not hers). He made it unbearable to work there anymore, which was a real pity because Mama wa Nyumba was the best employer ever (Nanny Viv would someday say those same words to me) and she’d grown really close with the four kids because she’d seen them since birth to primary school.

I asked her if she was available to come work immediately and she said she was ready in that instant. I cracked a joke about it and she laughed.

I liked that.

Saturday morning, I fired the old nanny. I told her that my mum-in-law was sending me someone from their home in Murang’a. It was a lie I didn’t think through because who gets Kuyo housies, anyway? She balanced her tears as she re-packed her few items back into her paper bag. I paid her for the three days she’d been with me plus a little extra to buy a new skirt because the one she’d come with had been stolen from the hanging lines on the rooftop.

Nanny Viv arrived at noon. She came with a bulging suitcase plus a large hiking bag that looked like it would tip her little frame over. She’d clearly come home to stay.

I had Muna on my hip when I let her through my front door. I welcomed her and her camping gear in then she turned to Muna and said cheerily, “Hi, Muna! Come to Aunty, Muna. Come. Come. Come to Aunty.”

Muna shyly hid her face in my shoulder then turned to look at me then to Nanny Viv then back to me again. She chuckled then slid into Nanny Viv’s arms.

I’d found myself a new lover.

An edited version of this story first run in the March-2017 issue of True Love Magazine

Mohawks and Manes
Band night at Js

Comments (5)

  1. Mildred Akoth

    Did you say a paper bag? Do they still exist!

    • Bett

      Quite the eye you have there, Mildred.

      It’s an old story, though, back when plastic bags were the next best thing after chino pants. Wink.

  2. Mercy

    Wow..I enjoyed reading this! But there is a small confusion, at the start the writer said she got a help a 2weeks before Muna was born, but as the story unfolds all helps find Muna already born..maybe you can check on that. Otherwise it was a great read!

    • Bett

      Thank you, Mercy! Thank you.

      I’ve reread what you’ve pointed out, and yes, there’s some ambiguity there. Tenses and plural and stuff. I’ll be more careful next time.
      Thanks again.

      Happy Holidays, Mercy! May 2018 bring with it everything you dreamed it would.

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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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