Mixed signals

Hunt like a hungry lioness: A miniseries on Craft It about Nairobi’s creatives

I’m not one to binge on a series. I can count on one hand the number of TV serieses I’ve caught to the finale: ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’ (they took a production break). I dropped ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ at season nine.

The problem isn’t TV itself. No doubt, there are countless recent well-written and well-produced serieses that draw cult-like followings with their longevity. ‘Game of Thrones’ comes to mind. And ‘Peppa Pig’.

The problem is me. Somewhere along the way of catching a series, my interest waxes and wanes then trickles to a naught. I’m like a stream that rages through the seasons. Like the Mara River.

But not with Wanjiru. Not with Hooting Owl.

Wanjiru writes modern urban tales about love and relationships.

She writes them as serieses.

The first series was ‘Njambi & Kagwe’s World’. It was about, well, Njambi and Kagwe. Urban couple. Married for seven years. No kids. Njambi was a senior marketing exec in a digital agency, Kagwe a pilot. The series ran for a year to June 2018.

She’s now writing a new series about Mel and Jonathan. ‘Taste of Mel’, she calls it. Mel is a photographer, Jonathan a pilot. (Those pilot uniforms must awake something, uhm, naughty in Wanjiru, aye? Hahaa.)

I’m bingeing on ‘Taste of Mel’.

Wanjiru has written the pants off every local fiction series I’ve ever known about. I’m not kidding. Not only are her stories colourful and entertaining, dotted with wit, beautifully crafted and full of positive energy, they’re also consistent – Thursday, 10a.m., chicks like me (and a few dudes) escape into the world Wanjiru creates for us.

She says the fate of her characters is not sealed, so there’s plenty of room for surprises – more sins, rebirths and redemption, assassinations, fuck ups and heartbreaks. The characters are like you and I. They are people we know about and others we don’t know about. They are what we want to be. They are human and flawed. They make the calls. They are everything urban and nothing made up.

They are Nairobi.

They are art.

A loose Thursday in warm September, Wanjiru and I sit at the balcony of Java Kimathi Street overlooking the din that’s Nairobi’s CBD. It feels like we are two queens on a throne in ancient Rome overlooking our kingdom.

She has a pot of milk tea, I have a tall bottle of cold Keringet water.

Wanjiru doesn’t want her photo taken. Something about being camera shy and having a bad hair day. (Although her hair doesn’t look as bad as she’d made me imagine. It looks… artsy. Artsy and full of personality, like the afrohawk of the chick seated to the corner behind her, the one Wanjiru says she’ll steal to put on the head of one of her characters soon.)

That’s not her in the picture up there.

But this is her story.



My spirit animal is the owl. I’m a solitary nocturnal creature, just like the owl. I write at night, from 9 p.m. to 4.30 a.m. then sleep in until midday. Oh yes, it was difficult getting here in good time for this [11 a.m.] meet up. But today I won’t return to sleep when I get back home. Thursday is my self-care day, I’ll do laundry and straighten my bedroom. I’m not a neat freak like my sister. We shared a bedroom growing up and we fought a lot. She wonders how I’m able to get any writing done with the mess but I tell her I know where everything is.

My Mum thinks I made Njambi too weak a female character and Kagwe a guy who does whatever he wants, when he wants and doesn’t have to face the consequences. Mel is nothing like me though. Mel is free to go with the flow and do what she wants when she feels like it, she doesn’t care what people think of her. I love Mel. Jonathan is a stable and safe guy, the kind of guy to settle down with and build a life.

My alter ego is Mel.

Last Saturday night, I was at home with my boyfriend, my sister and her hubby. We were watching a boxing match. Anthony Joshua and what’s that Russian guy called? I forget his name. I’m not big on boxing, I’d be lying to you if I told you I was interested. The only boxing match I’ve ever watched from start to finish was the one a few weeks ago, for that Kenyan lightweight boxer, what’s her name?

I’ve been listening to one album on repeat since last year. It’s by Ruth B, you heard of her? She’s Canadian. I listen to her a lot because she sings what I write about on Hooting Owl. My favourite line from the album is, “I don’t know what you want but I know what I need”.

[I looked it up. It’s from the album ‘Safe Haven’, the track is titled ‘Mixed signals’.]

I last experienced grief 10 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, people I know have died, and there are many who have died and it made me sad. What I experienced as life-changing grief was 10 years ago, when I lost my big brother to a car crash on Waiyaki Way, right outside ABC Place. He was 22. I was 18. They were on their way to tao, him and his pals. It was a Saturday night. They’d just left Kinoo picking up their other pal. This pal they picked up was in the backseat. My brother was in the passenger seat. I’m not clear on what happened exactly but the car flipped in the middle of the road and hit a tree. He died. His pals left the accident, what’s the word, unscathed? Yeah, unscathed. Imagine that. The tree they hit had paint marks [on its bark] for a long time after the accident. I mellowed down after his death – when you experience something that knocks you down, you realize that you are not as invincible as you thought you were. I was unnecessarily feisty and aggressive before it happened.

My brother’s death made my Mum closer to me. She had been closer to my big sister than she was to me. But to realize that she could lose a child, that someone could actually die, our relationship thawed. I spoke to her this morning. My Dad… my Dad is the typical Kikuyu father. His relationship with my Mum changed after my bro died, I don’t think it’s been the same ever since.

When I think of my ideal reader I think of an urban woman in her late 20s, early 30s. She has a bush of natural hair, tended natural hair. Sometimes a weave. She likes her jeans blue and fitting; definitely fitting, not flare. Her fingernails are manicured but short because she works a lot with her hands. She’s a progressive woman who won’t let herself stagnate in life – not in her career, her marriage, her relationships. She has a secret crush on a dude somewhere; it’s probably a guy in church or at work.

I have an undergrad in commerce and a masters in business. I did the degrees for my Dad. He was a schoolteacher. His friends advised him to get us into business school. If I had a choice I would have done comp science because it was the course about the future and about tech. My pals in comp science introduced me to blogs and blogging.

My first paying job was in Kisumu, I earned 6K a month. My job was to read storybooks to schoolchildren, five and six years old. I read to them from two in the afternoon, after their lunch. Relocating to Kisumu was an adventure because I’d never lived away from home. Or near a lake. I’m from Nyandarua, we don’t have big lakes there. The novelty of the adventure wore off after three months, though.

That job truly humbled me. I mean, here I was, a masters degree holder earning minimum wage in rural Kisumu. I didn’t even live in my own place, the school had an arrangement called home stay – I lived for those six months with a widow and her six kids. I had my own bedroom but I cooked and washed dishes and clothes like I was one of her kids. It was a mud-thatched house and we went to the lake to fetch water. Sometimes I’d go to work without taking a bath. I was culture shocked to tell you the truth, this wasn’t what I’d signed up for. I remember sitting in the staff room one day and seeing rats scuttle across.

I’ve published two e-books on Amazon. Both are self-help books. The first is about teenage bedwetting, the second about teenage depression. I wrote the books from personal experience and from a lot of online research. They’re doing OK, I suppose, people are still buying them. Amazon hasn’t paid me yet because you have to reach a certain threshold before they release your money to you. I haven’t reached the threshold yet. Same goes to the blog – I make money from Google AdSense and from affiliate marketing with Jumia, I just haven’t gotten paid yet. Other writing and editing gigs keep me afloat.

If this was a bar and you were a waiter, I’d ask you to get me a double Jameson [whiskey] and Sprite, no ice cubes. On another day I’d have white wine, sweet white wine.

I’m driven to do write my stories every week and share them because I don’t have a fallback plan. Writing is what I do every day. There’s nothing else I do with my time, so there’s no excuse to not do it. Plus there’s a sense of accomplishment from finishing a story I started. My stories do bore me sometimes, I throw in a twist to spice the plot to move in a new direction. Getting laid also relaxes me and releases my creative juices.

Hunt like a hungry lioness
Shoe Dog

Comments (9)

  1. Mariam

    Oh my! Good to read about my favorite author!
    So sorry to hear about your bro 😪😪..hugs to you.
    As always you end it with something to make me laugh out loud!

  2. Hadi

    I do have a crush on a church guy……

  3. cynthia

    i want the books on amazon…what are the titles again?

  4. Teresiah

    I love your stories. Keep me glued. But i hate the new twist on Mel… wy

  5. Judy

    Njambi. I love your work.
    A peek into who you are.

    Hugs-about your bro.
    Bless the Lord you finally came around.

    Deep down in my heart- my pi ture of you is WILD……😂😂😂😂😂
    Love it.
    You remind me of me.

  6. val

    I do have a crush on a colleague!!! And yes, getting laid does relax one! hehe

  7. Bett

    Thank you, guys, for the likes, shares and leaving us your comments. Here’s a truckload of appreciation for the support. Hahha.

    Let’s catch up at The Hooting Owl. Toot toot.


  8. Brio

    Yeeii feels like I was seated across listening to Wanjiru talk. Only minus the face to complete the pic. But I can almost imagine your looks (chuckles). She’s my fav bloggist 2018 since my first read. Bravo gal.

    Alafu ati releases juices… hmm what reverberations!

  9. Minnie

    I love your work and biggest fan-

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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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