Motivational speaker, philanthropist
Zelda la Grange is a motivational speaker and philanthropist. She is most famous as the former assistant to Nelson Mandela.
She was born in apartheid South Africa. After her secondary education, she completed a 3-year National Diploma. She started her career in 1992 at the Department of State Expenditure and in 1994 applied for a job in the Office of the first democratic Presidency.
In 1999, President Mandela hand-picked her from his personal staff to remain in his services beyond retirement.
Together with Professor Jakes Gerwel, Zelda was the only other founding staff member of the post-Presidential Office of Mr Nelson Mandela from where the Nelson Mandela Foundation was established. Zelda served President Mandela in various capacities over 19 years including Executive Personal Assistant, Spokesperson, Manager of Stakeholder relations, Aide-de-camp and Manager of his private office until his death on 5 December 2013.
She has been awarded by a number of organisations for her dedication and service to the late Nelson Mandela. She currently serves as the Patron for the First for Women Foundation, non-executive Director of the non-profit organisation Healing Hands and annually acts as a co-ordinator of Bikers for Mandela Day through which she pays tribute and disseminates the lessons learnt from her former boss in a charitable way. She is also a part-time employee of the Foundation for Professional Development where she presents leadership training.
She continues to inspire people through motivational speaking by sharing her life experiences on the international speaker circuit. Amongst others, Zelda has presented at TedxOxford and TedxAmsterdam, opened several local and international conferences or presented as key-note. In 2015 she was invited to speak at Campfire 2015, an exclusive annual private weekend on personal invitation of Jeff Bezos and Amazon.
On June 19th 2014 she published her memoirs entitled “Good Morning, Mr Mandela”. It is a story of love and hope in which Zelda shares her life and how serving Nelson Mandela for 19 years has had an impact on her life. She inspires through storytelling and shares some of the most private and public moments during her time at the side of the international statesman.
In December 2014, her book was announced to be the ‘Best Seller of the Year’ in South Africa and in 2015 in Brazil, with a population of over 200 million people, the book reached the top 10 best seller list.
To date the book was translated into ten languages and is distributed in 15 countries, in addition to all the Commonwealth nations. The book recently also appeared in its Japanese translation format.
In February 2016 New York based Maven Pictures’ Trudie Styler, Celine Rattray and Jacqui Lewis obtained the rights of “Good Morning, Mr Mandela” for adaptation into film. Daughter of anti-apartheid struggle heroes Joe Slovo and Ruth First, Shawn Slovo, is currently developing the script. Shawn is an award winning screenwriter, best known for the films “A World Apart”, “Catch a Fire” and “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”.