Sankale’s minivan


You know what really bugged me about being a kid? Not being able to reach the grab rail in a matatu. Everyone else seemed tall enough to reach. They didn’t have to support themselves by the seats. They didn’t look all short and silly.

Sometimes in a mat I’d miss the seat and accidentally touch someone’s head. Or I’d stumble and some alert passenger would have to catch me, and then they’d scornfully look at me, like I could be so stupid as to obey the laws of momentum.

In my eyes matatus were deathtraps. They started moving even before you sat down. Your school bag would slap every passenger as you tottered up the gangway. And you’d only get to sit until the next stage, before you had to give up the seat to some stern-faced woman.

Now though, I’m tall enough to say, “Nimelipia kiti.” No one looks at me hotly when I don’t give up my seat. I can comfortably reach the rails, and sometimes I’m even confident enough (or drunk enough) to bark at the driver to change the music.

But there’s a new problem, especially with those 12-seater vans. I don’t know what the engineers were thinking when they cranked out those vans. The ceilings are so low in there you’ll be lucky to alight without a migraine. The thing has sliding doors on each side, and the dashboard is made from plywood.

I imagine once the designs were complete a hawk-eyed intern spotted the problem. So he took it up with the supervisor, who was having a third cup of coffee in his office.

“Er, chief, I think the ceiling on this model is too low.”


“The measurements. They don’t allow much head-room.”

“Who says?”

“It says right here in the textbook, sir. The roof should be at least four centimeters up.”

“That’s the problem with schools these days. They cram your heads with meaningless math. Look, Richard, can the car move?”


“Can it brake and maneuver corners?”


“Can it safely move passengers from point A to point B?”

“Yes but…”

“Then the car’s okay, Richard. Bump the prints up to corporate then we can go out for a nice cold beer.”

Years later the supervisor would be dead. His obituary would say he had suffered a case of mercury poisoning. Richard would be working for another firm. But the minivan would be shipped and sold to an unscrupulous businessman who wants to make an addition to his fleet of matatus.

He personally went to pick it from the port. He inspected it all around, mentally calculating the profits the minivan would bring. He couldn’t wait to get the van up and running. Maybe he would install a power stereo. And maybe he could employ Sankale as a driver.

The van would be plying the Kitengela-Kajiado route. Namanga Road, one long stretch of tarmac surrounded by grass and vast nothingness.

And so, a week ago, I boarded the van on my way to school. The thing was cramped as hell. There was only one vacant seat, and no legroom to speak of.

Don’t even get me started on the headroom. It was virtually non-existent. My head was pressed so hard against the roof I could feel my sockets compress. I tried tilting my head forward but the pain was all over my hair. Any sudden movement would snap my neck for sure.

I had my bag on my lap, and I was wedged between two women. I didn’t even have space to fish out the fare. The cabin was airless and swirling with dreadful Bongo music.

Sankale liked Bongo.

And Sankale could drive. Boy could he drive. Sankale was thundering through the highway at neck-breaking speeds. Hehe.

I wondered if the passengers at the back noticed my discomfort. They all seemed to have some headroom, and I imagined they were watching with pity in their eyes. Or maybe they weren’t pitiful at all. Maybe they were only containing their mirth until I alighted, so that they could have a good laugh over it. I would laugh too, if I happened to see someone on the cusp of a broken neck at 80km/h.

But my pains were quickly forgotten when, tilting my head forward, I briefly locked eyes with a baby girl. She was on the row in front, on her mom’s laps. She was wearing a pink hoodie, and the first thing I noticed were her gorgeous black eyes.

They looked like dark pools of ink. Her tiny lips were moist, and she was employing her hands by tracing her mom’s T-shirt. The second thing I noticed, and much to my dismay, was that her eyebrows were drawn in.

And I thought: “What sort of cruelty is this?!”

Who would do this to their own flesh and blood? Why draw eyebrows on a child?

Surely this was contravening some kind of human right. And the brows were not even drawn correctly, for chrissakes. One was higher than the other one. Some of it ran to her temples. And the girl was totally oblivious. She kept mumbling to herself, and playing with her mom’s tee, unaware of the violation to her features.

This spectacle made me so sad I’d have taken out my snotty hanky, but then I’d have two much inconvenienced women next to me.

A commission of enquiry should be set up to find out how many mothers draw eyebrows on their kids. And then they should all be arrested and taken to court, where they’ll be forced to surrender any cosmetic item they own. Lipsticks, eyeliner, mascara – they all go into a basket and confiscated.

And as a final nail in the coffin, they will be banished from doing their make-up. They won’t even be allowed to get their nails polished at the hair salon. They will have their pictures printed in the paper, alongside an announcement: “The following persons can no longer practice cosmetics. Please alert any security personnel if any of them attempts to touch your face.”

I probably looked at that baby longer than I should have. And then I thought; “What if the other passengers noticed?”

Maybe they thought I was so charmed by her eyebrows that I couldn’t help but stare, and that I was falling hopelessly in love. I was about to break my neck in this dreadful matatu, and I’d have the honor of spending my final minutes looking at her stunning eyebrows.

But soon she became restless. Her mom held her up by the arms, so that the girl was standing on her laps. I’ve never seen a baby so excited. A bloom came over her cheeks and her eyes widened, happy, unbridled, like she just couldn’t believe she was standing in a moving vehicle.

Then she started reaching for the roof, with her fingers balled into a small fist, inching ever so slowly to her target. No one spoke. No one moved. It seemed even Sankale had turned down the Bongo. This girl was displaying some serious courage and we were completely taken by her. This was her moment.  This was a metaphor for her future.

She would grow up to be a strong-willed woman. And her favorite thing in the world would be to break the glass ceiling. At that point it didn’t matter that her forehead looked like it had been chalked up. I was certain everyone was rooting for her. “Go baby, go.”

Finally she touched the roof, and a bright smile spread over her little face, the rotundity of it only amplified by her cheerful victory. I was waiting for someone to give her a round of applause but it never came.

And it was probably for the best because, down the line, when she’s grown taller, she’ll realize being able to touch the roof isn’t that much fun. Not even with her eyebrows drawn in.
Mike blogs at www.mikemuthaka.com

Kitengela is like sex
Crying fowl

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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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