I started working as a Camp Manager in December 2021 and was immediately thrown into notably, the camp with the most buzz at Londolozi, Varty Camp. Nervous to say the least, I began my journey working with a team that all had been working together for years prior to my arrival. Little did I know that they would welcome me with open arms and become some of my best friends. The Varty Camp butler team is a perfect mixture of all the best components you need for a well oiled and fun loving team. This blog is going to introduce you to the people I work with everyday and hold close to my heart.
As they say, ladies first.
Phindile Manzini is a sophisticated lady who goes by many names. ‘Phinds’, ‘Madame’ and her favourite, ‘queen’. Phindi is one of my nearest and dearest and she never fails to let me know what she thinks of my outfit choices each morning. This almost always involves her making me stand up and do a spin so she can inspect the whole ensemble. Phindi’s work ethic and love of the job always shines when she greets you with a big smile when you get back from morning game drive and is always prepared to have a laugh with you. She constantly reminds me of ‘the five P’s’ – Proper, Preparation, Prevents, Poor, Performance – and this shows through the way she operates as everything is always smooth and ready ahead of time.
Tresta, or ‘Snoozie’ as she likes to go by, is our team’s bundle of joy. I have never seen her without her radiant smile all over her face and sparkling eyes. She is a happy-go-lucky lady and someone who you can speak to for hours as she has many stories to share. Snoozie is our resident neat freak and you will almost always find her cleaning down the bar and packing up around the rest of the team. Snoozie is extremely proud of Londolozi, and especially Varty Camp, and always says that she wants the camp to be as beautiful as possible and so puts it on herself to make sure of it.
The last lady that makes up our team is Thembi. Thembi has the kindest heart and most beautiful soul. She cares so much about everyone around her and always wishes the best for everyone. Thembi loves to laugh and has a zest for life. Thembi, much like Phindi and Snoozie, is a wonderful mother and her caring motherly nature shows while she works. She has a heart of gold and positive outlook on life which always lifts the team’s spirit. She is cool, calm and collected and does not get flustered easily which is a quality I so admire.
Now onto the Varty Camp gentlemen.
Let’s begin with Innocent. Don’t let him fool you when you meet him in the carpark and he introduces himself as ‘Guilty’, it’s his favourite joke and something that makes me laugh every time, no matter how many times I’ve heard it before. ‘Inno’ has the gift of the gab and is quick with a joke or rebuttal of any kind. He is a smooth talker with the ladies as his charm just oozes off of him. He is known as the ‘cappuccino man’ amongst the team as his cappuccinos are world class and will always leave you ordering a second cup. Inno is full of jokes and a great spirit and always reminds us that work should be just as much fun as it is hard work and he sure does bring the fun element to camp everyday.
Moving onto the next, Remind. Remind is a more reserved man and does not talk as much as the rest of the boys, however you will always hear his contagious giggle throughout the day. Remind is a great listener who is passionate about making guests happy and ensuring they have the best time. He is a family man who is so proud of his ‘little one’, which is how he affectionately likes to refer to his son, and if you ask him about him you’ll be talking for hours. Remind is one of the younger members of the team who is always grinning from ear to ear eager to seize the day.
Last but definitely not least we have Thamy. Thamy has been working at Londolozi for 22 years, nearly as long as I have been alive, and is someone I have learnt immense amounts from. Thamy has the most incredible energy about him and he never seems to tire. You will always find Thamy singing a song, whistling a tune or dancing on the deck. His high energy is infectious and whoever steps onto Varty deck will definitely feel it, from guests to staff. Although Thamy has his job waxed he is so eager to always learn more. He will often speak to me about overseas countries and how they operate and the culture they have there. If there’s an English phrase that he’s not 100% certain on he’ll ask me questions until he knows exactly what it means and where he can use it. His thirst for knowledge is exceptional and most certainly inspiring. When I first started working at Varty Camp I was not exactly sure of a few things and made some mistakes, but Thamy would always start by having a little giggle with me, and then showed me the correct way to do it in the most patient and professional way possible. I definitely consider him a mentor.
As I am sure you have gathered by reading this far that this team means so much to me. They each bring something special to the table and Varty Camp just would not be the same without any one of them. I am so grateful to spend everyday around them working together as they honestly are the best part of my day. This team has something special that, although I have written a whole blog about, is hard to put into words, it really is the feeling you get when you are in their presence, a feeling I will never take for granted. There is a saying the butlers always say to me that I believe wholeheartedly wraps up what I’m trying to say in one simple sentence, “Our skin may be a different colour but our blood is the same. We are family.”