Out on a limb


These legs know no slow pace. They are used to rapid motions, their triceps relaxing and contracting as they walk up the hilly gravel slope. These legs are black as night and tough as nails. These legs know no pedicures, and neither do they give a damn about what’s trending on Twitter. They don’t know who Ruth Kirathe is. If they did they wouldn’t find her funny.

Mornings, these legs thunder through the biting cold on the shoulder of Namanga Road, in the township of Kitengela. They go up to the crest of the hill, where they’ll take a left turn and walk some 2 km to the work station. These legs are tucked inside gumboots for 12 hours a day, which means their feet pack some serious heat.

These are not my legs, obviously. These legs belong to the flower farmers of Kajiado.

The lady legs come with lesos and turbans. The guy legs come with smoldering cigarettes and hand-held static-filled radios.

These legs toil under greenhouses up to around 1 p.m.

Then they break for lunch, streaming down the hill like a marching band, quick step. I wonder what these legs have for lunch. Maybe githeri, served up in aluminum plates. The bigger mystery, however, is whether these legs take off the gumboots during lunch. Or they eat standing up like the Exodus?

At 2 p.m. these legs get back on the road, up the hill and into the farm.

These legs are probably responsible for the flower you’ll buy next month, during Valentine’s. These legs water the flowers, and prune them, and spray them with insecticide. Some of the mature flowers are packed into boxes and shipped by lorry to the airport, where they’ll be exported to Europe. Maybe the flowers will go to London; and end up in an old woman’s home, in a green vase, atop some peach colored furniture –a flower to light up the grimness of Brexit.

At 6 p.m. these legs will check out. The setting sun will have dyed the sky a fabulous mix of flaming reds and navy blues. It’s against this beautiful backdrop that these legs go home. They give the impression of cheery kids going home after school. You’d look happy too if you hung around flowers as much as they do.

I think about these legs each time I needle my feet into my running shoes, and I imagine how it must feel to be inside a pair of gumboots for 12 hours.

I see these legs when I’m on the trail. Wiry legs outlined against the graying sky. Curious eyes lurking behind the shadows. Sometimes I hold my breath while I run past the legs because I don’t want to intrude into the peaceful dawn chorus with my heavy breathing. And when I get tired I can hear their taunting little voices, saying, “Tired already? Come on, you started two minutes ago. You’re such a softie.”


Before I go on, allow me to make a case for my hands:

These hands like to grab a cold beer on a hot day. These hands support my unfit body while I do pushups, and they wander about my chin when it’s time to make tough decisions.

These hands collect lighters (I have 20 lighters so far).

These hands have travelled up stair balustrades; to girls’ bedrooms, to hospital wards, to job interviews.

These hands have had the pleasure of meeting wonderful people. These hands have also felt the icy chill of death, when, in 2017, I touched the lifeless body of my grandpa the morning he died.

These hands have held wide-eyed babies and wiped tears off girls’ cheeks, and helped strangers with their luggage.

I touch myself with these hands.

These hands have loved and lost. They have embraced and waved goodbye.

These hands have broken things, and taped them back together.

I’ve always been told I have soft hands. My childhood friends told me. My campus mates told me. Mr. Mwangi, my primary school English teacher, told me – and just as he was sizing up my hand with a bamboo cane. My mother also told me, except, coming from her felt more like an observation than an underhanded attack at my masculinity.

I’ve been reminded of my soft hands in many different ways.

“Mikono zako ni soft.”

“Your hands are so soft aki.”

“Oh my God, what soap do you use?”

It’s rarely a compliment. And I never quite know how to react, especially if it’s in a group setting, because I can hear what everyone else is thinking:

“He’s a softie.”

“He can’t possibly handle a jembe.”

“I bet his clothes are washed by a maid.”

One condescending fellow in high school even said, “Hizi ni mkono za mwanaume? Dame anataka kuskia ameshikwa na mwanaume, si msichana mwenzake.”

Then he laughed. He laughed even harder when I countered by saying his ‘rough and manly’ hands could cause problems on a girl’s ‘down there’.

So I grew up knowing my hands were terribly feline, and I resented them. I began to think I was truly doomed to fail as a guy.

Maybe God made a mistake, I thought. Maybe I should have been a girl. Maybe God created me on a hot Saturday, and He couldn’t concentrate that well because He was in a hurry to catch the Arsenal match in the afternoon. So He just rummaged around the Lost & Found, grabbed a pair of hands, and attached them to me. Then He stood back and said, “Hmm, fits like a glove.”

Soon, though, these snide comments about my hands lodged themselves into my person, and gelled into my head. I even began to think through my handshakes.

Will they notice my soft hand? What will they think of it? Will they give it a tighter squeeze, just to see if they can break it?

Speaking of handshakes, I bet you don’t have to have hard hands to be a politician. All our politicians ever seem to do is dither. The trick, it seems, is having a loud mouth and a microphone. Ruffle feathers and push your agenda. Hold rallies. And if you don’t feel like attending a rally, you can hold a press conference at some botanical garden and spew some gobbledygook about how we should all focus on “moving forward” and “building the nation.”

Then when the cameras are turned off you go have a croissant and an agreeable cup of tea.

Anyway, no more am I aware of my hands than in the morning, when I part my curtain and see the construction site across the road.

They’re a building an estate – mansions and high-end apartments – complete with a mall and a pre-school and a gym. All things posh. I can usually see the mjengo guys, walking along the unfinished buildings, navigating the metal rods jutting through slabs of rock. I can hear the roar of lorry engines ferrying ballast. The days are populated with drills and hammers. And in the gap of traffic you can hear the workers’ banter.


I can’t help but feel terribly inadequate every time I see those workers. My soft hands would never last a day at a mjengo. My back will cave in. My hands can’t possibly be in the same sentence as ‘kukoroga slab’. Hehe.

In the evening some of the workers walk past our house, through the shrubby path and over the dried up stream. They’re always so jolly, like the flower farmers, but with their hands caked in dust, swinging with a demure appreciation of an honest day’s work.

I usually look at my own hands then. These hands that make the keyboard sound like staccato bursts of gunfire. I don’t know about you but I think they’ll endure, all these hands and legs, hard and soft, will endure and prevail.
Follow Mike on Instagram: mikemuthaka

We’re going to need a new diary
What is it about old British men?

Comments (2)

  1. Roy Waki

    I loved this one. Great read!

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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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