Buried or Cremated

Friday, late morning, I am at the Hindu Crematorium in Kariokor, right at the fingertips of Gikomba Market. My curiosity has brought me here, to this crematorium, to this place where every day is a ceremony for the dead to leave their Earth bodies behind. 

It is the end of one journey, perhaps the beginning of another: it depends on whether you subscribe to religion or spirituality. 

Me? I’m still not sure what I subscribe to. What I’m sure of is that I will always respond to my instincts to explore this wilderness of my curiosity.

How far would you let your curiousity take you?

I meet a man at the crematorium called Robert. Robert is the heart and soul of this place, the pen and paper, the machinery that keeps its cogs churning. Hell, he is the fuel of his own machinery. 

After the evident hesitation of asking about who I really am and what I really want from him, where I’m from, Robert indulges my curiosity and shows me around the place, he even points to where he lives, behind the crematorium, ‘the house there with the green roof.’

I don’t know what to make of that.

We also talk. A lot. About life and death and things, mostly death. Talking to Robert makes me feel… reassured. And comforted. 

It’s like sipping from a bowl of warm pumpkin soup. 

Robert has been cremating bodies here for over 25 years. He has had the honour of administering the final rites of hundreds of folk, including the who’s who of this town. I press him to drop the names and he tells me: Wangari Maathai, Bob Collymore, Sir Charles Njonjo, Binyavanga Wainana….

Robert is unmoved by the seemingly unsettling nature of it all– this is his job, he says, this is what he does. He cremates.

Earlier that morning, he had put a man’s remains – and his casket – into the crematorium. He has another one to run this afternoon, at 2p.m. 

He has a mug of tea while he waits. 

And watches.

The crematorium in this new wing is a stainless steel electric furnace that hums with efficiency. It’s sleek and modern, expressionless. It runs on electricity, there is a generator behind it that snarls like a vicious pet. 

The entire ensemble smells of nothing but the fragility of our immortality. It’s a fragility Robert has come to embrace, anticipate even, he cannot outrun his fate any more than he can have a cup of tea while the crematorium runs. Not even with those weathered Nike’s on his feet. 

Not too far from these modern crematoriums are the traditional crematoriums. The cremations here are fueled by firewood, sawdust and the spark from a flame.

It costs 50,000 shillings for non-Hindus to be cremated in Kariokor. It doesn’t matter if you choose the electric furnace or the wood fire, the cost is the same. 

The cost is lower for Hindus. 

I am here at the crematorium because of a story I’m writing, about the finances of funerals in Kenya. This is my final stop – I’ve already visited a handful of funeral homes in Nairobi, collected pamphlets, crunched the numbers from funeral budgets. 

The finances of funerals are a galvanising revelation to me. I didn’t know, the cost of a standard Christian funeral goes into the hundreds of thousands. It costs much more if you bury your loved one upcountry than if you cremate them here in Nairobi. 

What fascinates me the most is this: the biggest cost in a funeral budget has nothing to do with the dearly departed. The biggest cost is to put food and drink into the stomachs of those who have come to see their departed off. 

A standard Kenyan funeral does not just honour the life of the departed – it quenches the thirst and hunger of the living attending the ceremony.

Perhaps if we didn’t have to feed people at funerals, then the cost would be more manageable for the family. 


But then again, we are Kenyans after all, we don’t invite people into our homes then send them off with an emptier stomach than they came with. We must all drink and dine together. 

Spending my Friday morning with Robert at the Hindu Crematorium has forced me to confront my preferences: when I die, do I want my remains buried or cremated? 

What about you dear reader, buried or cremated?

I asked this question to my online community on Instagram. (Follow me, by the way, my handle is @_craftit.)

I conducted an informal poll on my stories and collected some numbers.

These are the results:

Results from my online poll

I went on to ask them why they chose the option they chose. 

A majority of those who want to be cremated pointed out that it will save their family all the trouble of a burial; time, money, the logistics of travel upcountry. A handful of others say they didn’t want all the fuss of burials. 

‘We have a weird attachment to the dead’

Others talked about the outcome of cemeteries, the what-nexts of graveyards. One person said, ‘Land becomes unsellable when you bury someone there. You would be hard-pressed to sell land your family is buried on. Neither would you buy land from someone whose family you know is buried there.’

That’s a valid point: Cemeteries and graveyards have a lot of sentimental value but little market value. 

Those who chose to be buried talked about the familiarity of their traditions and culture, ‘It’s just the way things have always been done in my family.’

Someone else said, ‘I don’t buy this storo of ‘we’ll be given new bodies in heaven’. I’ll go with mine, just in case.’

And yet another said, ‘Before I was sure about cremation but now I realise that final rites are more about helping the loved ones grieve.’

More valid points right there. 

Not sure
From those who were not sure, one said, ‘I’m not attached to whatever will be done. I will be dead. My body which houses my sould will be of no use to me anymore.’


As your resident expert on money, what I can tell you is that, make sure whatever you choose is captured in a written will and is communicated to your family.

To read more about the finances of funerals in Kenya, writing wills and other stories about the life of your money, buy my books from our Market here.

An edited version of this story first ran in the Saturday Nation on October 9, 2022. It ran under my ‘Culture’ column.

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

The Last Dance
What the Dog Saw

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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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