The wet rug. (And other stories from our kitchen)


Felista’s Rug
I knew there was something odd about Felista the moment I saw her. She had a slumbering fire in her eyes. If this was ‘How I Met Your Mother’, I’d say Felista had the crazy eyes.

She was 19, tall, with high cheekbones that were starker when she tied her braids in a bun. Felista didn’t speak much, except when she was on the phone with her folks back home. She’d mumble back when you said ‘hello’. But on the phone you could hear her loaded Kisii from all the way in Kilgoris.

She had this white t-shirt labeled ‘Bahati Girls Secondary School’. She’d wear it with a brown skirt that rustled when she walked; her bandy, shoeless legs gliding soundlessly across the floor.

And Felista stared at me. I didn’t know what to make of it. Did she want my attention? Did she resent me for my privilege?

I’d be fetching water for my coffee and she’d burn a hole in my back with her eyes. She’d stare at me during supper, and when I was writing in the living room, and when she found me rummaging around the fridge for something cold after a night on the tiles. Felista became my smoldering spectator.

Kumbe all this staring was part of a greater scheme; to keep me distracted while her sticky fingers did a number in our digs.

But I didn’t know it until she was sent packing one Sunday morning.

I also didn’t know how to feel about Felista working our kitchen. Nineteen is too damn young. But she needed to support her kid, she said. And she practically begged Mom for the job.

This was early January, last year, and Mom was searching for a help after the one we had before Christmas sent a text, saying, “I will not be available. Please find someone else.”

I, on the other hand, was maintaining a high-spirited fight, arguing why we don’t need a maid. I wrote petitions. I complained and pleaded. I said,

“I’ll be the one to cook supper every night,”


“I’ll be cleaning the house,”


“I’ll be doing the laundry.”

(I know. My folks thought the same thing: “You, Michael, are going to do the laundry?”)

In my fruitless, ill-thought out battle, I swore I’d learn how to cook mukimo. I drew elaborate graphs showing how much money we’d save sans the maid.

But my concerns were promptly shot down, because, besides burning down the kitchen, I could also be responsible for using the wrong Jik, or confuse spinach with sukuma, or forget to cook because I was out drinking with friends.

Mom, meanwhile, was running out of options. She was about to report back to work, and all the ‘older’ alternatives were either mteja or asking for too much money.

So we were stuck with Felista. She’d have to hold until Mom found someone else.

Then I noticed another thing about Felista: She wiped. A lot.

Every time I’d run into her, she’d be wiping some surface or the other, especially when Mom was around. Felista sure knew how to look busy.

And for some unfathomable reason, she’d come around and wipe my bedroom window every two days. At 7 freaking a.m., for chrissakes.

Felista’s wet rug would squeal on the glass, and her lean frame would be outlined behind the curtain. Cue some dark opera music and you’d have a thriller starring Felista.

Call it, “Felista and the Wet Rug.”

Heck. It could also work as a 15 minute porn film.

I bet the camera would have loved Felista’s silhouette. Maybe they could use Felista for the next James Bond intro. Or maybe Felista and her rug could be cast in Sexy Car Wash.

Back in the kitchen, Mom complained about Felista. “Ona sasa ameweka Blue Band kwa ugali. Nani amemwambia hivyo?”


Felista’s Ugali was invariably charred, and her rice was sticky. But her chapos were so good that I’d let her wipe my window as many times as she liked.

After a while, though, Mom had had enough. She found someone else, and Felista was on the next bus home. But not before Mom asked her to open her bag for inspection. Years of maid swaps have made Mom develop a sixth sense about these things.

And, true to form, Felista had nicked my shirt, my sister’s red underwear, some rolls of tissue, my sister’s sweater and a few shopping bags.

“But who steals underwear jameni?” is a question that has been on Mom’s lips ever since.

It’s a shame, really, because I’m going to miss the hell out of Felista’s chapos.


Nancy’s Dough
Nancy was a gentle soul.

She had a black leather jacket. I remember how the jacket hung on her bony shoulders. She was holding a knife, and her hands were wet. She’d been chopping onions. Her eyes were watery.

“Oga kwanza,” she said, “and then I’ll make more mandazi.”

We were standing in the corridor of our three-bedroom house in Uhuru. Thursday. I was still in my P.E. kit (navy blue shorts, red tee: ‘Twin Birds Academy’). Her incentive was hard to turn down.

This is the last memory I have of Nancy; her black jacket, her watery eyes, the glint of light on the knife.

Nancy had a pointy nose and skin like rose petals. When I think of Nancy, It’s her mandazis I remember. She’d knock up some mandazis every evening, which my sister and I would chase down with tea. This was the perfect climax to dreary school day, coloring diagrams and shouting “Nyama nyama nyama” during P.E.

Nancy’s mandazis went particularly well with ‘Fun Factory’ (Remember ‘Fun Factory’?). Then we’d shower and do homework with Vaseline thick on our skins, as we waited for Ol’ Man to come home and show us – for the 50th time that week – how long division worked.

Nancy was Akamba, and I’d warmed up to her nicely. If anyone would have told me she’d break my heart not two months later, I’d have hit them on the head with a mandazi.

Mom suspects my desire to marry a Kao chic was founded on Nancy. And I agree.

But I’ve never forgiven Nancy for how she ended things between us. She didn’t even give me two week’s notice. One day I went to school, and when I came back, hankering for her mandazis, she was gone.

Turns out Nancy told Mom that she, Nancy, was HIV positive, and that she needed to go buy drugs.

She never came back.


Nancy is just a spoke in the wheel of house helps we’ve had. The frequency of swaps has increased since we moved to Kitengela. I only remember a handful of them. There have been Kyuks and Maasais and Kurias and Taitas. Some helps lasted less than a week. Some held court for more than two years. We’ve had SDAs and Catholics and, once, a vegetarian.

There was one help who beat me, as a kid, probably because I’d gone out to play football after showering. I don’t remember her name. But I quickly reported the incident to Mom, and the help was gone faster than you could say “chenga funga.”

There was also Catherine, who my infant tongue christened,‘Tashin’.

On the heels of Tashin was Violet, a Lunje with a gap in her teeth and thunderous thighs.

Oh, and Eunice. How could I forget Eunice?

Eunice was the crown jewel of neighborhood lore, with her round bosom, and her round bum. Everything about Eunice was round. Even her nose was round. Her head, too, made even so by her boyish haircut.

Last I heard, Eunice married a welds-man and moved back to Nyanza.


Anne’s Falsetto
Our new help is called Anne. She sings. And boy can she sing.

Ever since Anne came along; I haven’t seen a single bird in the compound. I can’t remember the last time I heard a bird chirp. And we don’t have a cat which might scare the birds away. So could it be possible that Anne’s falsetto repels birds?

Anne sings when she’s doing the dishes, and when she’s hanging clothes, and when she’s cooking. Whether or not she sings beautifully is beside the point. But it’s always a gospel tune with a stirring Swahili chorus, belted from the throat. Her voice trills through the walls, and around corners, and carries in the wind like a bloody crusade.

Just the other day I found a cracked tumbler in the cupboard, and I imagine her voice is the culprit. I reckon it’s only a matter of time before she breaks Mom’s favorite glass set, the one reserved for visitors.

Which has now made me think of possible titles for Anne’s movie:

Call it, “The Glass Breaker.”

Or better yet, “The Fault in our Glass.”
Follow Mike on Instagram: mikemuthaka

What is it about old British men?
The turbulent millenial

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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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