The one with the bracelet


“No one understands the magnitude of fuckery that goes on when your mind is like, ‘Peace bitch, we’re not here anymore, you deal with your shit, ‘cause it’s too much, you’re too sad, you’re too anxious, us we’re leaving.’”

One night in September 2018, Victoria Maina – a third year pharmacy student at USIU – was taking a nap when her sister came into the room to remind her it was her turn to put the food in the fridge. Victoria woke up and felt unlike herself. She says, “It was like an out of body experience, like someone had colonized my mind and I felt trapped.”

She thought she was just groggy from the sleep. But months of anxiety and academic stress was finally taking a toll.

“When I came back to the room, I realized for real this wasn’t me. I looked in the mirror and I was so scared. I called my Mom and told her what I felt. She prayed for me.

“I remember my heart racing while she’s praying. And it was so confusing. Like, what the fuck is happening? I told her I couldn’t sleep alone. So she slept on my bed.”

Since that day, Victoria is scared to sleep in the dark.

She struggles with depression. She has knocked on therapists’ doors and filled countless forms about her eating habits. She’s been to therapists who’ve said they’d call back after evaluating her case. She’s seen therapists with basic advice like, “Just give it time.”

She’s been to another one who dismissed her case saying, “You you’re not depressed. You’re just looking for attention. You can’t be depressed if you leave the bed in the morning and you have a high GPA.”

“And I was like, Sis. That’s like… ugh… too much. Ai, that’s what you are.”

Exactly one week from now, Victoria will have grown her dreadlocks for three years. Her hair is tucked under a bandana when we meet at her place in Thome. She’s leaning back on a chair in the veranda with her legs placed on a coffee table.

We’re seated next to an old BMX bike and a sooty grill. She has a rainbow colored ankle bracelet. I point at it and say, “Tell me about your bracelet.”


“It’s a symbol of my queerness, the rainbow. I got it from someone special. Sometimes I wear it to remember her and sometimes I wear it because I’m happy about being gay.”

Victoria’s specs are smudged with fingerprints. The voice recorder can barely catch her soft voice. Once in a while her eyes wander off to a potted plant, or at the neighbour’s cat, or at her phone. She’s hangover, self-deprecating and distracted. Her speech keeps trailing off. So does her mind. Then she brings herself back up to be speed by saying, “What was I saying?”

It’s a warm Saturday afternoon. She slowly takes off her jacket and shows me the scars on her left arm, demons of old, self-inflicted razor cuts to override the emotional aches she felt after high school, especially after she missed out on studying dentistry.

“I think at that I felt like a fucking loser. I was just like, I’m not pretty. I’m not smart enough. I never get what I want. If I actively pursue something, I won’t get it, ama I’ll just miss it by a mark. ‘Cause I remember signing up for schools, not getting in, being just below the entry mark.

“Then I tried architecture, missed it again. My parents didn’t want me to do pharmacy at USIU, but then again, I was like I can’t do anything else. I can’t do business. I can’t do computer. They’re relatively easier than pharmacy but if you don’t have the fucking drive…I’d just be miserable.

“I was going through so much. It made me angry that people were moving on. And I was just stagnant. Kept on getting Ls. And I was also frustrated because I didn’t have a good support systems in terms of friends. I was fighting myself. I was fighting my sexuality. I was trying to find an outlet, or something or someone to validate me.

“I was mad at myself and the world. I don’t remember the first time I cut. I wish I did. But I know it was out of hurt, so they were low shallow cuts. The ones out of fury were deeper and more intense.

 “I saw this thing. I’ve never verified it. But it said the same pain center for physical pain is the same one for emotional pain. So like once you override this with the other you don’t think about it. And that’s the kind of relief I had from cutting. It was like a form of escapism.

“But I’d never judge anyone who does it or is still trying to fight it because it’s hard to come out of it. It’s like everyone is trying to escape so you can’t really judge someone.

“I stopped cutting in February 2017. But like … but like… uhm, what was I saying?

“Oh…uuh, the scars, they haven’t like really faded. The ones on my thighs faded really fast. But the ones on my arm haven’t gone kabisa. But you can see the progress. They were really visible. I just want them to go. I even tried Bio Oil. Bruv. Doesn’t even work. It’s a rip off.

“I’m comfortable with the scars. I feel like they remind me of where I was. And how far I’ve come, and even though I don’t have the healthiest coping mechanisms, I feel like I have like a balance now. You know? But I still uhm, prick my lip hadi it bleeds, when I’m anxious.

“I wish I could go back and tell myself that you know what? It’s going to be okay for real. Just chill for the real drama. I’d tell her you’re the baddest bitch. And you don’t have to hurt yourself. I’d just hug her and say, ‘Imagine ni sawa. Ai shawrry.’”


“I think the first time I noticed my attraction to girls was in class six.

“I had this friend and we used to be really close. The vibe was there. When I went to Pango [Girls School] I had to push it down. ‘Cause I was like, no way, it’s against God. Coming out of Pango was liberating and confusing ‘cause you’ve been hiding this part of yourself for so long.

“And you’re not even sure if it’s legit or you’re just experimenting. And people are so homophobic, hating or discriminating, saying you’re just a fetish. It’s a lot. I don’t like unpacking it to be honest. And I don’t think my therapist likes talking about it. I think she’s in denial. The next time I see her I’ll tell her my girlfriend broke up with me to see how she’ll react. But she’s cool.

“I wouldn’t say I’m bisexual. And I wouldn’t say I’m full on lesbian. I feel like the most fitting word is ‘queer’.”

“Do you think you’ll tell your parents?” I ask.

“Sometimes I think, is it worth it? Sometimes I just want to be real with them because they know everything else, they know I smoke and I drink, they know a lot, especially my Mom. And I feel it’s crucial. It’s a part of me I can’t hide forever.

“I’d want my Mom to know but then she’d be like, ‘You’re not going for a sleep over at a girl’s place ever again.’ And I don’t want to lose that privilege. Ha-ha.

“Sex with girls is more comfortable for me. It feels more authentic. More beautiful. Let me just be mysterious about it. That’s all I have to say.

“My dreadlocks represent a journey. When I got them, it was after a whole era of confusion and hiding and not being my true self. My higher self.

“I got them on the 7th of May. I could be whoever the fuck I could be. I was excited and scared to start campus. What did I think I was doing signing up for this course? (And now) I’ve made it to fourth year. Like, kumbe ni mimi?

“You’re too much,” I say.


Victoria met ‘A’ at the smoking zone outside school. ‘A’ was beautiful. ‘A’ had eyes like the ocean.

Victoria would usually go there two or three times a day for a cigarette. She’d sit on the bench and think about nothing and everything, how hard life is, another lab report, how Hepatitis B is transmitted, pharmacy stuff.

She’d stare at ‘A’ a lot. “But low key. You have to be tactful.”

One day Victoria wore her Kendrick Lamar T-shirt. ‘A’ walked up to her and said, “I really like your shirt.”

Victoria said, “Have you listened to the album?”

“Yeah,” ‘A’ said, “I liked it.”

“Do you want one?” (T-shirt.)

“Yeah, my birthday is coming up so it would be perfect.”

“In retrospect I was like, What the fuck is wrong with me? This is a fucking stranger. She’d see me all the time and ask, Where’s my T shirt? But my wallet was like, oh oh, where? Answer her.

“We started talking and one thing led to another and then, yeah. Let me tell you. Lesbians move really fast. ‘One thing led to another’ was like one week.

“I’m telling you I’m a runner, like Eliud Kipchoge. I run away from commitment because I feel so inadequate. First of all I’m like, ‘Mimi? I’m the one you’re giving all this love? Uongo. You have ulterior motives.

“I don’t feel deserving. I always anticipate the hurt and it scares the shit out of me. I feel like I’ll be so destroyed and I won’t be able to come back from it. ‘Cause me I know people move on real quick. Me I don’t. There’s always like… residue.

“Anyway, what was I saying?”
Follow Mike on Instagram: mikemuthaka

This Young Man
Just, stuff

Comments (7)

  1. Lorraine heho

    Your work is amazing. Keep reaching out to the misunderstood, their stories inspire me

  2. Bett

    Your personality is as colourful as your bracelet, Victoria.

    I’m glad you’ve gotten to this space of self-awareness and self-acceptance. What I’m picking from inbetween the lines is that it’s a space you can exhale. None of that suffocation that comes with grappling your way through the darkness of your own self.

    Thank you for sharing your story with Craft It.


    PS. Your Mom knows. Hahha. She always has. Mothers know things before we tell them. You listened to her heart beat – surely she understands your beating heart, too. She knows what the rhythm is saying.

  3. Joy Ruguru

    Mahn, I just wanna take Victoria out to Karura Forest one day.
    It’s been a while for me too :)

    • Mike

      Haha. Me too, Joy. Me too. 🙂

  4. TW

    Nice piece….the struggle is real.
    I wish her the best of luck

    • Mike

      Thanks TW✊
      I’ll tell her you said Hi

Leave a Reply

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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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