Chin up!


Beards are meant to be stroked. They’re meant to be touched and played with. They’re for quiet contemplation. They’re for having something to do with your hands as you stand outside your gate, looking at the busy highway, staring at a little boy riding a black mamba bike.

The roughness of a chin is something to run the back of your hand against, because it mostly feels good. Facial hair is sexy like that. It transcends the visual. In fact I think the best bit about being married has to be the unbridled beard touching, especially on Saturday mornings: When there’s no rush to leave the bed, when the early birds have started to chirp and the sun is like a marsh of fire on the horizon. When the kids are still asleep, and her head is on your chest, listening to your slow heart beat, one hand gingerly caressing your chin.

I bet it would feel so good you’ll both be happy to skip the morning rumpy pumpy.

Some beards are for hiding double chins. Some are antiques, carefully tended to for generations. Some go around the mouth. Others go up the temples. And some, like Ezekiel Mutua’s moustache, are for policing morals on the internet.

In high school I was jealous of guys who grew beards. I didn’t see any sign of a beard until form three, and even then, it was just the one strand, attached precariously on the side.

I wasn’t happy about it. It proved I had the right genes and testosterone levels, but when you pitted my chin against many of my comrades, mine would look like a baby’s buttocks. (No double chin, though. Nothing like Peter Griffin’s from ‘Family Guy’.)

A few months later I grew more strands but they were still short and soft. You had to stand very close to see them. And then you had to squint to make sure it wasn’t just a piece of dust.

“Wewe na hiyo ndevu yako moja” was pretty much the worst thing you could say to me.

A beard was all a boy wanted. A beard was what a boy prayed for when he tucked himself into bed at night. “Lord, I promise not to sin again if I wake up tomorrow with something craggy on my chin.” A beard was simply the coolest thing. A beard would surely complete the boy.

Now, though, I’m starting to have doubts about what a beard translates to.

Once I spot a hair that has grown more than a few millimeters I snip it off. Or else the devil will use it as a tool against me.

I’ve always been aware of how detrimental my young beard can be. Because it feels so damn good I’m apt to touch it all the time, which means my hands are always occupied, so I don’t really feel like doing anything else.

I’ve almost missed deadlines on this column because I stopped writing to fondle my chin. In school I spend the entire three-hour lecture with my hand on my chin, looking very attentive and thoughtful; wondering if ‘swirly’ can be the right word to describe the curriculum.

And that’s why, about a week ago, with a sad face and slumped shoulders, and nothing more than an old Gillette blade, I shaved off my beard. I scratched it all off. I ran the blade this way and that. No strand was spared. Down to the last stem. I was once again a smooth-faced boy. It felt like a reawakening. I could now employ my hands elsewhere.

But I just didn’t count on having to study instead.

It’s now a week since cutting my beard. And I can happily report that it’s growing back faster than I expected. I noticed it yesterday, when I was in the exam room.

I had barely studied, to tell you the truth. I was mildly aware that the lec had sent the notes on email but I just didn’t think of fetching them until the last minute. The paper was INS412: Development of Modern Africa and Christian Values (I know), scheduled to begin at 3p.m. And in typical Mike fashion I arrived half an hour later.

Earlier that morning I’d only skimmed through the notes. And as I flipped through the pages I was compelled to think I already had a handle on the material.

I thought, “Surely this can’t be too hard. Who doesn’t know about the scramble and partition of Africa? We covered this shit in GHC, for chrissakes.”

I’ve always preferred Geography to History. Since high school. I didn’t even think twice when the time for subject selection came round. Geography was fun, much more than I could say for History. It was far better to read about metamorphic rocks than industrialization in Mesopotamia.

I thought high school was the last I’d see of History. But that ghost is back to haunt me. The topics on INS412 bear striking resemblance to a Civics textbook. It seemed that, other than slave trade, I would also be forced to read about Lewanika of the Lozi, and the Berlin conference, and the definition of protectorate, and the weaknesses of Kwame Nkurumah.

It’s the stuff of dusty libraries and imperialist theories. Hell, I’m even supposed to know the Marxist theory for the scramble of Africa. Cecil Rhodes? Yup, I should read about him too.

Anyway, to my complete dismay, there was a question on the Maji Maji uprising. (Like, honestly, can you believe this stuff?)

I met the question with a bad taste in my mouth. The thing was going for 10 marks, and I could only linger at it with regret. I tried to scratch the corners of my memory box for what I knew about the Maji Maji, but it wasn’t even close to getting the half mark.

And if that wasn’t painful enough, I remembered I’d actively chosen to ignore that bit while poring over the notes. The lec didn’t say anything about Maji Maji. I thought the chances of getting tested were slim.

But not even a fully grown beard could save me now. I put down my pen and stared at the ceiling, as if the answers might drop on my head. And I kept thinking, “Hm, the Maji Maji. They wouldn’t have something to do with Gidi Gidi Maji Maji, would they?”

The tension was eased almost immediately though, when I turned to look outside the window and found myself reaching for my chin, where I felt that all-too-familiar roughness. The strands were long enough for me to tug, and I felt so calm and distracted I was ready to leave that question unanswered.

So what I did, I wrote two sentences and moved on to the next question. When the results come out I’ll look at my grade and blame it for sure on the devil on my chin. Then I’ll pay penance by shaving off my beard again.

At this rate my wife will have nothing to caress on Saturday mornings. But maybe that’s not a bad thing after all, because it means we’ll be free to do the rumpy pumpy.

Meanwhile, does anybody know if Cecil Rhodes had a beard?
Follow Mike on Instagram: mikemuthaka

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Comments (2)

  1. Muindi Kimanzi

    Ah! And I thought these beard woes only existed in my world. Once, this lady at the office wore a hoodie inscribed with such hateful words, “grow a beard then we can talk.”

    I was silently pissed. Like the whole dress code was aimed at me. I found myself thinking, “Kwani how pretty does she consider herself to be? Nkt!” Haha.

    • Mike

      Haha, how dare she? Where’s the decency?

      We must bring her in for questioning, surely.

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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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