Uncle Buck


It was one of the first movies I ever watched on DVD. ‘Planes, Trains & Automobiles’ starring Steve Martin and John Candy. The DVD cover was bluish and it showed an angry-looking Steve Martin. It’s a movie about an obnoxious salesman who crosses paths with a man trying to get home in time for Thanksgiving dinner (or was it Christmas?). The salesman was fat; he’s the same dude that played Uncle Buck in the movie ‘Uncle Buck’.

It was chaotic comedy, ‘Planes, Trains & Automobiles’. Lots of travel, lip biting, and gnashing of teeth. Slapstick humor. I hadn’t hit puberty. And I couldn’t get enough of it (the movie that is, not puberty), even though I rarely understood what the fat man was saying. But from what I could gather he was oblivious as hell, and silly, and so talkative that a man almost missed his family Thanksgiving dinner.

(I really can’t remember what holiday it was.)

I can still hear Steve Martin grunting somewhere in the back of my head. And I can still see the doe-eyed fat man opening a car door and trying to squeeze inside.

But there’s one particular scene that has stuck with me all this time.

A knackered Steve Martin is finally boarding the train that will take him home. All the chaos has died down and it’s now time to say goodbye to Uncle Buck. There’s a momentary silence between them before Steve quickly steps into the train. The train leaves. Uncle Buck picks up his luggage and walks away.

Meanwhile, on the train, Steve is having a moment. He calls to mind the last couple of hours. He replays the moments he’s had with Uncle Buck – the long road trips, the cramped motel beds, the hitchhiking – and it dawns on him that he’s developed a sort of liking for old Buck.

So he heads back to the station, where he finds Uncle Buck seated on a bench. The station is empty and dark. Steve asks him what he’s still doing there, and Uncle Buck says something along the lines of, “I don’t have a home to go to.”

Steve invites Buck to dinner. He takes him to meet the family and it’s all happy clappy. A friendship has been forged out of the most inconvenient of circumstances – the apt theme music was cued and I jerked into tears every time I watched it.

But now it’s 2018. Let’s assume the clock reads 5:45a.m. Wednesday. Class starts at 8a.m.

Ol’ Man is getting the car warmed. Mom is hollering at me to hurry up, else we’ll get caught up in traffic and she’d be late. I grab my schoolbag and put on my shoes at the door. It smells like rain.

A new hotel has sprung up in Syokimau, it’s called the Hilton Garden Inn. It’s made up of one huge block of colorful concrete. It seems cozy as hell in there. The hotel is situated right past the airport, it looks like a costly stop over.

The windows overlook the highway, and every time I look up at them, I hope to see someone at the window bare-chested and idle; a chick, preferably.

We got tangled up in traffic across the road from the hotel that Wednesday morning. All the windows were shut. The building looked cold and dark and lifeless, save for the uniformed guard standing at the entrance.

Then I saw a plane shooting up from somewhere behind the hotel. It soared bright and white and constant, blinking lights on its massive wings.

I watched as it climbed into the grey, all the while wondering about the passenger perched stiffly in his seat, watching the ground diminish to a green dot.

The disembodied captain would come over the intercom and make the announcement: Flight 155 to Heathrow. The time now is 6:15a.m. Estimated flight time is eight hours and 50 minutes.

Other passengers would whisper around his seat. A flight steward would push a food cart down the aisle; he’d look at her slender frame for a moment before returning to the window, staring past his reflection and into the blue.

I imagined he was going home to London after a week in the country. His firm had sent him down here to meet some execs and strike a deal. Maybe he stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn.

He had nailed the presentation. The execs were happy to sign the documents. He could now move around and see the country. He enjoyed the weather and the culture. And the women. He’d go back home and say things like (cue in Br’ish accent):

“They have these things called matatus over there, speedy little things with all sorts of graffiti on them. You should have seen them, Rupert!”

“The hotel was mighty cozy.”

“Didn’t fancy the morning traffic, though.”

“I had a view of the highway and it looked ghastly, Rupert, absolutely ghastly.”

Oilibya, South C. Time: 7:22a.m.

The first tender glimmer of sunshine has stolen into the sky.  A white Toyota Corolla 90 hatchback rolls by on the next lane. A short man is at the wheel, late 40s maybe, strands of white hair. The entire dashboard is covered in brown leather. Manual transmission. The man absentmindedly shifts gears as he comes to a stop in traffic.

Another man zigzags around the line of automobiles on foot –holding up a box of various chewing gums. (“PK tropcos, tropcos PK”) A newspaper vendor clutches at his wares as he makes his way to the back of the traffic line.

The driver looks lost in thought, never lifting his eyes from the car in front.

Seated back left, I see a shock of hair. A girl. Dark braids. She’s curled herself into a ball. She has a green backpack next to her. The two occupants barely say a word to each other, and there wouldn’t have been anything to tell you that this was nothing more than a cabbie and his fare.

But I assumed he was her dad. They looked comfortable in that bubble of silence, like their relationship was weaved with emotionally complex material.

Then the man opens his door – a small gap. At first I think the car has stalled. The girl doesn’t stir in her seat. It’s only when the man sticks his hand out that I realize he’s fetching a newspaper from a vendor, The People’s Daily.

I wondered about the girl – where she schools, if he picks her up in the evening. Does she ever feel embarrassed about her dad’s old Toyota?

Has she ever taken the train?

At 6:30a.m the parking lot at Syokimau Railway Station is already full. The traffic line has gone all the way back to the tip of Mlolongo, it’s slow but moving. The dawn is large and hoary, stretching infinitely in all directions.

I look at the people driving into the Railway Station and I wonder how fun it must be – to drive to the station and take a train to work. I hear they have WiFi on the train. And that there are only two trips, one in the morning and the other in the evening. The schedule is tight.

I wonder how cool it would feel to be worried about ‘missing the train’. I wonder if the seats are cozy. How smooth is the train ride? How strong is the WiFi connection? And what of the people who take the train? Do they have old tickets piled up in their car’s glove compartment?

Maybe there was another family, like ours, that was running late that morning. The man would be pissed because his woman takes forever to dress up. Over the years he’s learnt to bottle it up. But today he simply can’t be late. He has an important meeting with the seniors.

He’ll be warming up the car and the lady will still be in the house, doing God-knows-what. The clock will tick. And his patience will run out.

Then, with the engine still running, he’ll step out of the car and go back into the house. He’ll call out to her from the living room, “Victoria, I told you I don’t want to miss the train today. What’s the hold up?”

“OK, OK, I’m coming.”

And when she finally gets into the car she’ll say, “Sorry. I was deciding on the shade of lipstick.”

“Are you serious? I’m going to be late because you were deciding on the shade of lipstick?”

She’ll remain silent as he drives out of the compound. Then he’ll say, “I swear sometimes you’re just like Uncle Buck?”

“Uncle who?”

“Uncle Buck.”

“Who’s that?”

“Ugh, never mind.”

They’ll drive on steady in silence then she’ll turn to him and say, “I swear sometimes you’re like the girl in this relationship.”

And that will be the end of that. They won’t talk to each other again until Nairobi, when they step out of the train. They will say a quick goodbye before parting ways.

Later that night, having nailed his presentation with the seniors, everything will be back to normal. He’ll be in high spirits and they’ll crack open a bottle of wine. And then she’ll whisper the secret words, for when she’s in the mood:

All aboard.

Follow Mike on Instagram: Mike Muthaka

An angel in spandex
Next Monday

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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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