Buttling, Scuttling & Buzzing Angama Style

6 June 2017 | Inside Angama |

Reading Time: 4 MINUTES

From early wake up calls and surprise picnics to floating seamlessly between tables and refilling wine glasses, this is a day in the life of Angama Senior Butler James Sedera

Senior  butler, James Sedera, whizzes through his day, always with the broadest of smiles

05h15: The alarm rings and I think – already? It seems like minutes ago I closed my eyes. But yesterday my day started an hour earlier with wake up calls for our guests departing for balloons. I shower, brush my teeth and get to the guest area while it’s still dark.

05h45: Passing through the kitchen I greet the breakfast chefs and then my colleagues who are already cleaning fireplaces, sweeping and dusting in the guest area. I set up trays for my guests’ wake up calls and do a quick tidy up: an empty wine bottle, a chair slightly out of place, a dessert plate left behind in the butler’s pantry.

James delivering tea to tents

06h25: Off to the first tent I go: I knock gently, call out ‘Good Morning’, set the tray down being sure not to spill the coffee and place the biscuit jar just so. I tap again gently on the inner door, and hear shuffling and a muffled ‘good morning’ back. The sun is just about to rise and I know my guests will enjoy coffee in bed watching the dawn break over the lovely Mara.

Back at the guest area I start preparing for breakfast. Today, most guests in camp are coming later for breakfast but as senior butler, I know the importance of teamwork so I set up all the breakfast trays, lay the tables and ensure the guest area is sparkling.

James prepping at first light

08h30: With breakfast on the go and my co-butlers caring for their guests, I grab a quick breakfast of chai, toast and boiled eggs before heading to our daily HOD meeting. The topic of discussion is always guest delight. For my guests, I suggest a surprise picnic on our Out of Africa kopje. The plan is set. I make my way past the laundry to pick up more napkins and hear on the radio that my guests are almost finished with their morning walking safari. I scuttle up to the guest area to greet them.

10h45: After breakfast I meet with my butler team to go over the updates for today, assign roles and buzz back to my room for a quick lie-down to rest my eyes.

James at the Out of Africa Kopje

13h00: The lunch picnic is ready, the sparkling wine is chilled and my guests have no clue what’s in store. I walk them up the kopje and by now they know something is up. As we crest the hill, they spy the picnic and then the view! I introduce them to the askari who will be on guard half way down the hill to ensure their safety, give them the walk-talkie to call me when they are ready to come down and encourage them to just relax for the afternoon. Then I leave them for a bit of romance …


16h50: The day is flying by. My guests are back, tea has been set in the guest area, glasses from lunch all cleaned and put away. Check and check. I discuss with the Camp Manager whether Forest BBQ will still be on or if we think the rain is coming. We decide to go for it and off I rush to the BBQ to ensure the set-up is complete.

19h00: The family style tables are laid, lanterns lit, fire bowls crackling, the chefs busy grilling and the bar is stocked. We are ready for our guests. I watch their faces light up as they walk through the pathway of lanterns and into the forest of fireflies, with the smell of grilled food wafting towards the tables. Soon the bouts of laughter rival the hoots of hyenas and my team and I refill the wine glasses. We float in between the tables seamlessly, aiming to be unnoticed but our duty fulfilled.


As the night settles in we escort our guests back to camp. The armoire is laden with desserts, cheese, coffee and liqueurs. Slowly the guests peel away to their tents, and the night becomes quiet. The day winds down and I put away the last few dishes.

23h00: I make my way back to my room, my head swirling with how I can top today’s delights for my guests tomorrow. I have a few more tricks up my sleep, I mean sleeve, but my eyes close as soon as my head hits the pillow. I know I must rest so I can start fresh tomorrow.

AUTHOR: James Sedera

James Sedera came to us highly recommended from his previous managers at another camp in the Mara. They lauded his good humor and excellent work ethic – I believe their exact words were ‘he’s a hard-working goofball and you’ll love him.’ In his ascension to Senior Butler, he has yet to disappoint! You’d have a hard time finding a more hard-working goofball anywhere.

Franc is Bagbey
June 6, 2017

What a compelling day-in-the-life-of story! Thank you.

    Nicky Fitzgerald
    June 7, 2017

    So glad you enjoyed it!

Sharon provenzano
June 10, 2017

Our group of 4 will be arriving July 2nd and I have read all the blogs – I am BEYOND excited to meet the whole team. I loved this day in the life by James Sedaris and can’t wait to meet at his fellow goofball!!

    Nicky Fitzgerald
    June 11, 2017

    Dear Sharon
    We were all tickled pink by your three wonderful posts on our blog and the team join me in thanking you so much. We can’t wait for you to come and stay. We will be waiting with arms open wide on 2 July.
    Warmest thanks

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