Zelda la Grange was born in 1970 and brought up in the apartheid South Africa. She began working as a secretary for the government in 1992, in the Department of State Expenditure. In 1993 she moved to the Human Resources division and in 1994 she joined the office of the first democratically elected President of South Africa as a Senior Ministerial Typist. She was promoted to one of President Mandela's three Private Secretaries in 1997 and in 1999 Nelson Mandela requested her to remain in his services beyond retirement. In 2002 she left government and became a full time employee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. She served Nelson Mandela in different capacities over nineteen years, ranging from Typist, Assistant Private Secretary, Private Secretary, Manager of his office his Spokesperson and Aide-de-camp. She was serving as his Personal Assistant when he passed on in December 2013.
Zelda la Grange has a singular perspective on Nelson Mandela, having served as his long-time personal aide, confidant and close friend. She is a dear friend to both of us and a touchstone to all of us who loved Madiba. Her story of their journey together demonstrates how a man who transformed an entire nation also had the power to transform the life of one extraordinary woman -- Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary, Actor and Producer of "Invictus" Uplifting. . . generally charming, occasionally faintly indiscreet, but always reverent. Surely no one but Mandela - with the possible exception of the Duke of Edinburgh - could have got away with greeting the Queen with a cheery: "Oh Elizabeth, you've lost weight!" And it is fun to learn that the former leader of the ANC's guerrilla army maintained a rigorous skin-moisturising regime in prison and beyond. When the manufacturers of Mandela's favourite preparation, Palmer's Body Lotion, ceased production in South Africa in the 1990s, elaborate measures had to be taken in the presidential office to procure supplies from America * Sunday Times * A searingly honest, moving and entertaining account of her years orbiting President Nelson Mandela . . . an excavation of white (particularly Afrikaner) identity and one woman's painful blossoming of a deeper consciousness. . . . Between the rich anecdotes of Madiba's numerous encounters with the world's powerful, wealthy and (in)famous - which she witnessed at close range - as well accounts of his personal quirks, virtues, foibles and torments, La Grange's book sets out her own journey from naive, completely unaware, conservative white South African to more conscious human being * Daily Maverick * A delightful, delicious read packed with anecdotes -- John Carlin Compelling and ultimately heartbreaking ... her unguarded honesty allows her to tell a remarkable story * Telegraph *