Statement by Zelda la Grange on the passing of Nelson Mandela

Written by Zelda La Grange on December 6th 2013

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My sincere condolences to Mrs Graça Machel (Mum), Maki, Zeni, Zindzi, Josina, Malenga and the entire Mandela family, as well as everyone who feels a sense of loss this morning.

Nelson Mandela inspired people to forgive, to reconcile, to care, to be selfless, to be tolerant, to maintain dignity no matter what the circumstances.

I can attest to each of these because these are the ways in which he changed my life over the past 19 years. I am blessed and honoured by the privilege to have had the opportunity to serve him. I often battled with the relentless pressure.

But then I looked to him who carried himself with such grace and energy. I never left, I never could.

Nelson Mandela did not demand loyalty, but he inspired profound and unwavering loyalty from everybody whose life he touched.

And now, as we grieve the departure of Madiba, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I will never see him again.

But heroes never die.

As sad as it makes me that I will never walk into a room again and see his generous infectious smile or hear him say “Oh Zeldina, you are here”, I have come to terms with the fact that Madiba’s legacy is not dependent on his presence.

Zelda la Grange is a former private secretary to Nelson Mandela.   Later in 1999, after Nelson Mandela left office, she was appointed as executive personal assistant and spokesperson for the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg

Zelda la Grange is a former private secretary to Nelson Mandela. Later in 1999, after Nelson Mandela left office, she was appointed as executive personal assistant and spokesperson for the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg

His legacy will not only live on in everything that has been named after him, the books, the images, the movies. It will live on in how we feel when we hear his name, the respect and love, the unity he inspired in us as a country but particularly how we relate to one another.

Madiba will forever be present in my life because he made me into the human being I am today. I will cherish every smile, the pleasant but also the difficult times and especially my barefoot moments.

Thank you for all the wonderful opportunities you afforded me, but most of all thank you for believing in me, Khulu, making me a better person, a better South African.

Tot weersiens Khulu!! Will love you every day for the rest of my life.

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