Zelda la Grange was born in apartheid South Africa. After her secondary educations, she completed a 3 year National Diploma and she started her career in 1992 at the Department of State Expenditure. In 1994, she applied for a job in the Office of the President.
In 1997, Zelda was promoted to become one of the three Private Secretaries in President Mandela’s personal staff and in 1999, he requested that she 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 serves for Mr Mandela for 19 years in different capacities until his death on the 5th of December in 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 and Beeld Kinderfonds and she annually acts as a co-ordinator of Bikers for Mandela Day.
Zelda is also a part-time employee of the Foundation for Professional Development.
She continues to inspire people through motivational speaking by sharing her life experiences.
On the 19th of June 2014, Zelda published her memoires 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 impacted her.
In December 2014, her book was announced as the ‘Best Seller’ of the year in South Africa. It has been translated into 9 different languages and it is distributed in 13 different countries.
About Zelda la Grange:
Zelda grew up in Pretoria. A happy child, she was a diligent, disciplined, loving ordinary teenager – “My parents say my first word was not ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ but ‘self’. I was stubbornly independent from an early age”.
Zelda has been speaking for five years; first part-time and now full time. The desire from the public to identify with an ‘ordinary person’ being successful is what contributed towards Zelda’s decision to pursue a career in the professional speaking industry. For her, it was a natural process of sharing her stories as her life evolved.
We asked Zelda how she has changed since she first started speaking: “It has become easier, although I am never quite at ease” she says. She also loves interacting with people who have the opportunity to see her speak.
If she could be something (other than a professional speaker), she would have liked to pursue a career in acting but she believes that she probably would have ended up being a care-giver / organizer in addition to motherhood.
In her spare time, she rides her motorbike, she gardens and paints and spends time with her friends. She also volunteers (as mentioned above) so most of her spare time goes into the three different charitable projects.
She enjoys watching the news, the crime channel as well as Afrikaans reality programs, dramas and documentaries.
Zelda says that she is an introvert and she is shy: “The story-telling through public speaking now comes naturally but I don’t interact easily with strangers. I keep to myself and I am a very private person”.
“I constantly push m own boundaries, trying to overcome my fears”
“I don’t consider myself as having succeeded. To the contrary, many people would have done a much better job than me. The only difference between me and anyone else is that I am obsessively compulsive about commitment, loyalty and dedication”
Zelda’s advice to anyone interested in pursuing a career in professional speaking:
“The audience expects to be entertained and kept awake. Keep it simple. People relate to simplicity and humility. Be yourself.”