From Namanga Road, with Love


My first real kiss came from the girl next door. Tongue and all. She was a year older than I and their fence was a brick wall. Her mom’s plants climbed that wall, clasping on the way –its twigs and tendons like sinewy old arms. Her saliva tasted like happiness. 

It went by the name of Uhuru Estate. And at some point during my puberty the council erected a floodlight on the corner of the playground. The curfew at home was lifted. Boys and girls came out to play. The floodlight –radiant and glowing orange- would come on promptly at 6pm –along with the smell of mutura and bhajia.  

There were numerous butcheries in Uhuru, equaled only by the number of pubs. Most of them dabbled. It all depended on which side of the building you entered from. The hottest joint was Club 227. The bar music would blare well into the night. Football weekends were particularly loud. Cars would pile in the parking lot. Think: beer, polo shirts, and guttural cheering.

Some nights we’d hear screaming, or gunshots, or both. There was always something happening in Uhuru. Scandals and gossip ran high. And it seemed every other jobless youth was high.  

But perhaps what I liked most about Uhuru – other than the girl next door, of course – was that everything was nearby. There were tons of kiosks. Mama Mbogas were everywhere, never short of chatter.

There were salons and barbers, and one very popular bicycle-repair man. There was a dhobi and a ‘fundi wa saa’. There was pasua, too – fries pocketed into a mandazi. Salad on the side. And in a very vague sense, it seemed, everyone knew everyone.  Not to say that everyone was friends.

And then all of that vanished the day we moved house.

As we were throwing our things into the back of a lorry I was, naturally, a bit sad. It wasn’t like some Dickens novel. It wasn’t like Great Expectations. It wasn’t like I was Pip and that I was excited about the prospect of upping sticks and moving to a faraway place.

And, unlike Pip, I knew what to expect. I knew we would be moving to a house standing in the middle of nowhere. Kitengela interior. No man’s land. We wouldn’t have neighbours. How the hell were we supposed to live without neighbours?

Home was synonymous with neighbours. Home was a bright orange floodlight and chaotic pubs. Home was pasua and gunshots and the bicycle repair man. Home was Uhuru. It was a brick wall with twigs and tendons.

So my first reaction was to hate the new place. It didn’t even have streetlights for chrissakes (still doesn’t).

Ours was now the plains – dry country. And, all around, pale yellow grass – sticks and thorns and dusty footpaths. Home was now a vast empty space of shrubs. It looked like a distant savage lair – a place removed. Alien. Away from everything else in the world.  

The house is seconds away from the highway. Namanga Road. The wind would rush over and arch the trees in the verandah. The leaves would rustle and whistle. Big trucks would rattle the ceiling as they sped past. The new compound was spacious but it only served to emphasize the distance.   

I couldn’t care less about aesthetics. I thought my new bedroom had a bored, sleepy look. The walls felt bare and lifeless, probably because there wasn’t a girl next door.  

The days were long and raw and hot. It was terribly lonely and the feeble mobile signal was the only thing that kept me away from total darkness. It was quiet; the silence only punctuated by the sound of those trucks on the highway.

The nights were cold and ominous. The stars sat low and at around midnight we’d hear the hysterical cries of what was, for all intents and purposes, a hyena.

There was a seasonal stream a little ways down the road – bed rocks sticking above the water surface. Sometimes I went and sat by that stream and wallowed in the loneliness, contemplating whether I should start writing down my thoughts. Start a blog maybe.


Fast forward to four years later, and I’m standing on the threshold of the gate. Much has changed. It’s less thorny. Greener. Budding trees.

It’s a warm Friday in December and the sun is dipping behind the highway – a big orange ball falling behind eraser-smudged clouds. It was that beautiful sunset that did it for me, really. My view of that road has, however, remained the same.

We have neighbours now, well, sort of.

There’s a bakery to the left. It’s a 24-hour factory and the smell of freshly baked bread is ever-wafting. In the evening a bunch of lorries pull up, ready for the long haul. The night shift boys come in with backpacks and hard faces –ready for the long haul too. At night you can hear them loading up the Lorries. Machine clanks. Baking, slicing, and packaging. Intruding echoes that go on until 2AM.

In my fancies I see those boys during break time. I see two of them leaning against a wall and chewing some fat. One of them would be like,

Kwani last week ulienda wapi?”

And the other one would chuckle and say, “Si nilikuwa Nairobi. Lazima ningeona baba akiapishwa.”

What follows then would be a complete dissection of the political weather down to the core – the cost of living.

Another one will have walked a distance away to have his second smoke of the evening. His mind would wander over to his girlfriend. Two years they’ve been together. She doesn’t mind that he’s just a factory worker. She thinks he’s the funniest person in the world. He loves that unhinged laugh of hers. He hears it in the windy darkness.

And then he hears a snap coming from the bush. Something’s a’ stirring. Through the smoky haze he thinks he sees green goblets fixed upon him. He had heard some crazy hyena stories but he’s never really seen one. He starts to walk back, by and by extending his stride. He can hear his pals from beyond the wall.

Ati naskia TV zilizimwa?”

Meanwhile he can already picture himself getting ravaged by a hyena. He can feel it in his legs. His chest is beating like a drum.  He makes it to the gate and shuts it immediately, attracting the attention of the other workers.

What follows then would be an exaggerated story about how he came face to face with a hyena. The same would be rehashed to his girlfriend in the morning.   

And then there’s the house on the right. Only one side of the fence is walled, the rest is just a low hedge. It always seems so shut up, that house, the curtains are always drawn.

One morning I stepped out and saw a lady brushing her teeth in the compound. Her hair was in a bun. She had some kind of night dress and it was windy and I thought it must have felt really nice to brush her teeth in the open like that.

Someone would be driving down the highway and they would see her brushing her teeth. Her dress fluttering in the wind. A fleeting image of her pearly whites. Maybe they’d also see me standing at the gate – ogling at her. And then they’d conclude that those crazy hyena stories weren’t so crazy after all.

Whenever I come home at night I see light coming from one window of the house. And I wonder what she’s doing in there. I wonder how her living room looks like. Looking at that house gives me the sense that it would be like stepping into a cave.

But if it’s a Friday evening it means I’ve just submitted my weekly Dusty Rugs story. Deadline beaten to a pulp. I usually write on the day on the deadline, and when the story is done and dusted, when the last of the adrenaline is still sipping out and I’m recovering from an intense admixture of determined concentration and stilled anxiety, I like to watch that sunset.

It’s strange how I initially felt imprisoned by this place. I felt like I was looking at a photograph now –a bounded portion of an unreachable past. It saddened me to think that there was a time when, feeling lost, I smoked lots of cigarettes and missed the beauty of it all in a nicotine buzz.

On those days I didn’t quite notice the peacefulness of it. I missed the light misty mornings and the crisp afternoons. I didn’t see the sparrows that hop about our fence and I made nothing of the full moons that shone through my bedroom window. I forgot how the sunset made me feel and I didn’t think for a minute that all these would one day aid my writing.

But that sunset brought everything back. It was like looking into nature’s own bounty box. It all came back to me and I realized that I may as well be looking at God’s own painting. It was simply breathtaking.

And if only to know how it feels, I contemplated going back in to fetch my toothbrush.

Florence Bett is away. Follow Mike on Instagram: Mike Muthaka

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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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