Book Review: “Good Morning Mr Mandela” by Zelda le Grange

“Good Morning Mr Mandela” is one of this year’s most highly anticipated books, written by Nelson Mandela’s personal assistant and confidant of over 20 years, Zelda le Grange.

The book is not what you might expect by reading the title. It’s deeply personal and heartbreaking at times with le Grange opening up about her racist, Afrikaaner upbringing and how Mr Mandela completely changed the way she and her family think about race today. However, the book is much more than the tale of how a naive white girl overcame her prejudice.

Reading the book one often feels sad for le Grange, who essentially gave up the chance of having a husband and family in favour of travelling the world with Mr Mandela on state business. However, the opportunities she experienced and the familial relationship she developed with Mr Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, are rare and priceless gems. She became Mr Mandela’s right-hand, planning every minute of his life and often protecting him from the bombarding public.

The book takes a heartbreaking turn as le Grange writes about the decline in Mr Mandela’s health and the feud that developed within his family. In the end she was mercilessly rejected by his family and banned from visiting him in hospital and attending his burial when he passed away in 2013.

The book does have light-hearted moments and there is no shortage of hilarious anecdotes that make it clear that Nelson Mandela was a man with a wonderful and cheeky sense of humour.

Nelson Mandela is a man whose legacy will live on forever in the hearts and minds of people the world over. Le Grange wrote this book in the hopes that people will get “to know the Madiba I know” and perhaps learn some of the valuable lessons that he taught her. “Good Morning Mr Mandela” is a must-read for all South Africans, and it will also appeal to readers from all different backgrounds and nationalities.