My salonist is killing me!


The salon where I have my hair braided is your run of the mill kibanda salon. 

There is no parking – basement, kanjo or otherwise. You park at the Catholic church nearby. 

(This church never used to charge for parking because, surely, it is the Lord’s work, serving the good folk of Nairobi, particularly urban women like myself who want to get their hair braided and whatnot. But I suppose purse strings tightened from the pandemic and someone suggested to someone that this nonsense of extending your open palm for naught is akin to fattening a cow and not milking it. Now they charge a flat rate of 200 bob. Paid upfront. Non-metered, no parking tickets. No cash – you have to M-pesa this two sok directly to a number they give you at the gate. 

The auditor in me shifted restlessly when I was told this. I asked the chick writing me a receipt why they don’t have a Paybill or Till number or some form of financial control. She said, “Hiyo ni namba ya pastor.” I chuckled. Rather, the restless auditor in me chuckled. So we are not really paying for parking, are we? We are financing some other cash-strapped arm of the business. And who said the Pastor redirects all the money there, anyway? Hm? He is human, after all, needs arise and with money pouring into his M-pesa often, surely he must have dipped his hand into that kitty, no?)

Anyway, you park your car here then walk to the salon. It takes about five minutes to get there. You will squeeze through more vibandas, vibandas that sell Ankara knits and funky jeans, baby clothes and athleisure, fresh beef and fried fish, and a bistro that whips up some killer home-style cooked chicken stew (I’m using the term ‘bistro’ here very loosely). 

The atmosphere buzzes with efficiency and has that unmistakable smell of the blue-collar hustle. 

You will stumble upon my hair salon amidst this melee. Kwa Emma or something, I forget the name. It’s one of the hundred other salons mushroomed here. And opposite these salons are stalls creaking under the weight of cheap knock-off beauty products.

These beauty stalls are a consequence of the salons. A by-product. Complementary products and services, as we learned to call them in business education in primo. Blue band in the supermarket sits next to bread. Sunlight detergent next to pegs. Condoms to liquor. Lodgos to night clubs. Slums sprouted near affluent neighborhoods because the domestic staff had to live close by.

I buy my braids here. And my eye pencil, Davis #40. And that Nice & Lovely gel which lays my edges right. 

M-pesa booths are nestled at every corner, of course. What’s Nairobi without its M-pesa booths?

At my hair salon – like at any salon in this town – there are always hawkers  peddling their wares. That’s because urban women at salons have gone there to spend money. And not just on hair and nails and anything related to beauty. We just have an itch to spend – these hawkers readily scratch that itch for us.

The hawkers at my kibanda salon peddle ripe bananas and poorly-printed story books for school children, dawa ya mende na ya panya, jikos, rungus and torches.

And there’s the toilet. How can I forget about the toilet? It’s another five minutes away from the salon. It has an entrance fee. Like in a club. You pay 10 bob before going in. 

I’ve always believed that this 10 bob is for the tissue they give you at the door but last time I was there, I went with my own and the chick manning the tissues still asked for 10 bob. The restless auditor in me shifted yet again. I asked her why and she mumbled something evasive. What unsettled me isn’t that I had to run back to the salon to get a 10 bob coin from my wallet, it’s that I had considered talking my way out of paying it. 

I only started braiding my hair last year. Year of the Covid-19. I’d had dreadlocks for a hot minute there, shaved them off because they thinned out and grew unhealthy, then I rocked that close-to-the-scalp hairdo for a while. I felt like a naive schoolgirl. 

Braids and braiding techniques evolved while I was away. The braids are now lighter, less shiny and more natural-looking. And there’s a way they install the braids that keeps the tension away from the roots and preserves the hairline. The reason I go to this particular kibanda hair salon is because they have mastered this technique.

I go to a different one uptown for nails and face. The beauty salon. The salonists here may not have mastered this braiding technique but they have mastered the art of conversation. They don’t engage with us clients in a corrosive manner. Making offhand remarks – remarks aimed at camaraderie, observations and small talk – that are slowly killing us.

I remember the first time I walked in for an appointment on a loose Tuesday afternoon, a day I knew they wouldn’t be busy.

Before she starts work on my hair, the salonist drapes a towel around my shoulders then stands behind me to take a look at it, combing it with her fingers. She tells me the hair is short, yes, but there’s enough to braid, and eventually it will fill out. “Usijali, ipatie time. Itagrow na itajaa.” Strike one. 

She parts the hair at the top of my hair and moves in closer for scrutiny. She uselessly points out that it’s balding, “Nywele inaisha hapa kati kati.” Strike two. 

She conditions it, pats it with a towel then dries it off under the blow drier, low heat. She tells me after how fine and thin it feels. “Imekuwa kama ya paka.”

Lord in heaven.

She buys my braids from the stall next door and deftly preps them for installation. I am sitting there looking at her from the mirror and wondering if I will bleed to death from all her oblivious punches. I know I’m not being sensitive because I’ve seen other women shrink away from the carelessness of such wagging tongues. 

I compose myself long enough to ask her how long it will take. She says, “Haitachukua muda. Kichwa yako ni ndogo.”


Kichwa ndogo. 

I usually find this funny. Not because it is funny – or she’s funny – but because of the image it conjures in my mind. The simplistic thinking behind it, I mean, surely, how does the size of someone’s head translate to the volume of their hair? Me I have a small head. Like a praying mantis.

Anyway, she gets on with braiding while I read from my Kindle and bandage my bleeding wounds. She wraps it up after three hours, and by some miracle she manages not to say any more damaging remarks. Admittedly she’s done a bang up job with the braids; she knows it, I know it, the praying mantis looking back from the mirror knows it too.

Now it’s time to get my eyebrows threaded.

The chick who does it is summoned in. The eyebrow technician. She charges in like a bull. She asks me to lay my head back on the pillow. She stands over me, squinting, because she’s struggling to find the eyebrow growth that needs to be threaded. I hear her sigh, “Ni kidogo sana.” 

I don’t know how to respond to that. I don’t know whether to ask her if we should get some help in here so we can locate them, probably pull in the experts who are good at seeing things that can’t be seen with the naked eyes? Maybe we should get her the Hubble telescope? 

She does her thing, it takes a few minutes. I almost collapse when I pull my head up from the pillow and look in the mirror. She’s threaded everything right off my face. I appear pissed off and deranged at the same time. Hard on the eyes.

I scoff.

This is the ultimate punch. The final strike. The TKO. 

I am now a praying mantis with no eyebrows. 

Dotted lines
The Gift and the Curse

Comments (3)

  1. Mercy Kambura

    I want to pity you, but how can I? I’m your fellow praying mantis! Let’s laugh, crying is for the nights when we can’t sleep when the braids are too tight.

    • Bett

      Hahhaa hahaa. This is the stuff of memes

  2. C.

    “Imekuwa kama ya paka” …………..this line has me laughing out loud.

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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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