Zelda la Grange Biography

Zelda la Grange was born in apartheid South Africa. After her secondary education, she completed a 3-year National higher 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, personal assistant 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 continues to inspire people through motivational speaking by sharing her life experiences on the international speaker circuit. Amongst others, Zelda has presented at TedxOxford, TedxAmsterdam, and TedxFlanders, 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.

Zelda is a sought after speaker for both formal and informal gatherings irrespective of the size of the meeting.  In 2017 she addressed the Council of State in the Netherlands, the highest body of state advising government and the Royal family in the Netherlands. In 2018 her highlights on the speaking circuit included presenting at the Bill Clinton Foundation in Arkansas and delivering the 5th annual Nelson Mandela lecture at the University of Gent in Belgium.  In 2019 she also participated in the annual Emirates Literary Festival in Dubai and delivered speaking sessions at King’s College London, COINZ in Brazil and Executive Secretary Live in New Zealand and Australia.  She is a regular presenter at the Young President Organisation (YPO) gatherings in South Africa and abroad as well as the Entrepreneur Organisation meetings across the world.

Zelda is a weekly co-host on a National TV talk show in South Africa and in 2019 co-produced a documentary on the people and places that shaped Nelson Mandela entitled Madiba: A glorious human achievement. She also contributed as guest curator to an international exhibition on the life and times of Nelson Mandela that tours internationally between 2019 and 2023.

 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 ‘International Best Seller of the Year’ by the publisher Penguin Randomhouse 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 thirteen languages and is distributed in 15 countries, in addition to all the Commonwealth nations. The book recently also appeared in its Japanese translation format.

Rights to the book for adaptation into film has been reserved while the screenplay was developed by Shawn Slovo, daughter of the anti-apartheid activists Joe Slovo and Ruth First.   Shawn is an award winning screenwriter, best known for the films “A World Apart”, “Catch a Fire” and “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”.  The film is currently in development fase.