Inspiring Words from Personal Aide to Nelson Mandela – Zelda La Grange

Aug 17
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Nelson Mandela changed the world. As one of the most revolutionary figures in history, and an individual synonymous with changing the world we live in, his story and legacy live on and continue to inspire us all.

The person by his side for 19 years of his extraordinary life, Zelda La Grange, will be joining us to deliver a keynote speech at the Public Sector EAPA Forum.

Zelda La Grange released her book,”Good Morning, Mr.Mandela” in 2014.  In this book, she details her experience of working with the great man. From the day-to-day of her role to the close companionship they shared until Nelson Mandela’s death.

Zelda was Nelson Mandela’s diary keeper and organiser, support on many foreign tours and companion. As his right hand woman and the personal assistant to one of the most influential leaders in the world, she has met and coordinated with many world leaders. Her experiences are sure to inspire, and Zelda has kindly shared some words of advice and encouragement in an exclusive interview with Criterion Conferences.

If you could go back to the beginning of your career, what would be the one piece of advice you would give a younger self?  

Determination, Loyalty and Dedication is all you need. You are enough.

Leadership is essential to make change – what kind of leadership style do you believe can achieve real change?

Authentic practical leadership.  Leaders need to find ways of illustrating daily what they believe in. If those values and morals are authentic you become a believable leader and people will automatically follow.

What was the most impactful thing that happened to you in your time with Nelson Mandela and what was your greatest lesson learned?

The first day we met, when he spoke to me in my home language.  The most important lesson he taught me is to respect people irrespective of their appearance, wealth, status, conviction or religion.  

Many people would be overwhelmed at taking on such an extraordinary role – how did you find the confidence and strength to support Nelson Mandela through his incredible journey?  

He had confidence in me that I lacked myself. It only takes one person to believe in you and when they do, believe them. It will inspire you to do things you never knew you were capable of yourself.

Submitted by Laura Dunlop

Laura Dunlop

Laura is a producer at Criterion. She has a passion for research and loves collecting interesting perspectives and turning it into actionable insights for conference attendees. She loves discovering new bands. Fun fact about Laura -Laura is a firm believer that “you have as many hours in the day as Beyonce”.

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