I did resolve not to buy any more books until I’d dented at least some of the pile of 60 still begging to be read, but when Zelda la Grange’s much anticipated book about her life as Nelson Mandela’s assistant was launched on Thursday, I rushed to get a copy.
I read it in a day, assisted by loads of tissues and if the social media is anything to go by, the first print run is already sold out.
Those expecting loads of dirt, celebrity gossip or a tell all book are going to be disappointed. La Grange has said in the book and in interviews leading up to the launch that it’s her story and not Madiba’s. Instead it’s filled with ancedotes of his later years and lessons she learned from him in the 19 years as gatekeeper to one of the world’s most loved icons.
But Zelda does document the sadness of Mandela’s last days, the blunders by the government medical team treating him and she lifts the veil on the family infighting as Madiba clung to life.
She shares how, unbelievably, Mandela’s widow Graça Machel, had to get accreditation to attend her husband’s memorial service with only four of her family members allowed at her side and how at the last minute and even though she was wholly excluded from any of the arrangements, Zelda rushed around calling in favours to get accreditation for Mandela’s closest friends as well as celebrities Bono, Charlize Theron and Oprah Winfrey, all of whom had conveniently been disregarded, despite Madiba’s wishes, by those swinging the sceptre.
Good morning, Mr Mandela is filled with courage, tenacity, integrity, tenderness and most of all love and respect.