What the monks say


Many harvests ago, I interviewed a craftsman for a magazine column. She back then handmade children’s furniture from her workshop on Ngong Road. She made them from MDF.

It was charmingly gorgeous furniture in baby pink and cream white, coral blue and playful red. The colours of urban procreation and parenting.

(She’s no longer in the business, by the way.)

She called me on the day the story ran in the magazine, bouncing with giddiness on the balls of her feet. She thanked me as if I were a messenger who had delivered good news. She said, “Bett, whenever you’re ready to become a mother, give me a call. I’ll make you a baby cot and a chest of drawers at no charge.”

I took her promise and put it in my pocket, knowing I would call it in when the time was ripe.

But you know what the monks say, don’t you? The monks say, ‘Do not promise when you are happy. Do not reply when you are angry. Do not decide when you are sad.’

Anyway, in August 2015, I called her and said, “Guess what? I’m ripe with child. He will be born in November, Inshallah. I pray he has better hair than mine.”

She cackled.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out her promise. She looked at it, thought about what the monks say, nodded and said sagely, “It shall be done.”

I selected a sleigh baby cot in brilliant white with a matching chest of drawers. The top row of drawers was painted in lime green and sunshine yellow. I was proud of my selection. We met over a cup of tea on Kiambu Road to tweak the design elements to the form and function of my daily use.

She said things such as, “This section of storage needs doors because the kids get to a point where they remove all the things you’ve folded and put in there.”

“The chest of drawers should just be high enough for you to change your baby on. You can also change her on the changing station on the side of the cot.”

“The cot will be standard size, you can get a mattress and mosquito net for it from Biashara Street.”

The greatest mistake she made, one I suffered through, is that she didn’t make the base of the cot adjustable. I should have been able to adjust it up or down as Muna grew older. It should have been raised higher when I was moving her out of her Moses Basket to the cot, then lowered it when she learned how to stand.

Much much later, it should have been closer to the floor, that way she wouldn’t hoist herself out of the railing and land on the floor in a hard slump. WWF style.

She delivered the furniture a week before our daughter – Muna – was born.

That was back in November 2015.

The furniture has seen Muna through the seasons up to her toddlerhood. She’s three and half now. She still sleeps in the cot. Not because she has not any grown bigger (with her head-full of hair. She has) but because it was unusually large – she will sleep in it until she turns five, maybe six years old.

The only cavil I have with the furniture is that it’s not ageing gracefully. The MDF is falling apart with wear and tear.

By the way. MDF translates to ‘medium density fibreboard’.

Google tells me that MDF is an ‘engineered product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibres, often in a defibrator, combining it with wax and a resin binder, and forming panels by applying high temperature and pressure.’

MDF is mostly used on children’s furniture. I have also seen it grow popular in recent years for the fittings in kitchens, wardrobes and flooring. It has almost – almost – the same characteristics as naturally grown timber only that it has a more consistent quality, wider variety and a smooth finish.

It is also a more environmentally sustainable option in forests where trees are felled and not replanted.

Strange thing though, MDF costs much more than naturally grown wood.

I have spoken to my fundi. He says a four by eight foot MDF board costs anywhere between 3K and 4,500. That’s about 400 bob per foot.

A foot of mahogany (hardwood) costs 150. Teak (hardwood) is 180. And cypress (soft wood) 70.

Yet for its steep price, MDF falls short in longevity. I compare the baby’s furniture to a bed I invested in at around the same time. My fundi custom made it from a design I had downloaded from Houzz, the app for home interiors and exteriors.

The bed has an unusually tall headboard. I sometimes find myself staring at it because it strikes the fine balance between beautiful art and practical craft. He made the bed from mahogany. And you know how mahogany ages? It absorbs oxygen – as if it’s breathing and maturing – and gradually takes on a darker richer hue. It also hardens the more.

Muna has rammed her bike into the foot of this mahogany bed countless times, coloured the headboard with crayons and biros, swung from it, spilled food in her tantrums… the bed has withstood her madness.

She has done the same to her MDF furniture and it’s falling apart. The paint is chipped and uneven, smudgy with stains. It can’t be wiped clean. Nanny Viv is lunje; she likes to scrub everything very hard with a lot of water and a lot of detergent. She put her back into that bed and it didn’t listen to her. Haha.

The drawer’s railings are coming loose, the corners separating from the joints… Argh. Shutting a drawer you’ve just opened is a fighting match. A battle of brains and brawns. It’s like pushing a cow that has been taken to the river and is refusing to drink.

I’ve asked around – fundis tell me they can’t repaint it for a fresh look because it can’t be sanded down. Wood must first be sanded down before you can apply a fresh coat of paint.

My MDF furniture has defeated whatever hopes I had of handing the furniture down to our next baby and the next. It has barely done its time yet it has already hanging its boots.

Well, so have I. I keep looking at that furniture and wondering what the hell I’ll do with it. Will someone buy it if I posted it on Pigiame? Should I donate it, instead? Why couldn’t she have built it such that I can disassemble it into parts that I can maybe reuse for other purposes, or put aside to come back to later?

Anyway, you know what the monks say – you’ll do better next time because you know better.

I hope you hear that, MDF.

Breaking bad
The Hunt

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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