Not so different
Some have speculated that Nelson Mandela’s decision to make a young white Afrikaans woman his personal assistant was a move to appease a sector of the population that feared him, but that is not the whole story.
The Mandelas and the La Granges may have lived different lives in very different worlds but they also had many things in common, particularly their human values.
In her book, Good Morning, Mr Mandela, Zelda la Grange tells the story of how her life and the lives of those around her were changed by Mandela. She recalls, in the early days of her job, her parents, Des and Yvonne, being cut off by old friends who had seen Zelda on TV serving tea to Mandela. Her parents (pictured with her at the launch of her book in 2014) shrugged this off.
She tells of how her father bought trees and took them, at his own expense, to Qunu, where he planted a shady avenue to give the Mandela homestead more privacy.
Lately, she says, her mother has been horrified by all the vitriol on social media, but her advice to her daughter remains constant.
“My mother always says to me: ‘Loving is the more difficult thing to do. Hate is very easy.’ I have thought about that a lot and it’s true. It’s much easier to just turn your back on someone. Loving is hard, but Madiba made a decision to love; he decided every day to do the difficult thing, the right thing — not the easy thing.”