Mandela’s long-time assistant Zelda la Grange recalls her early racism

Amanpour

By Mick Krever, CNN

“I was a full-on racist by the time I started working for him.”

That is the shocking revelation from Nelson Mandela’s long-time personal assistant, gatekeeper, and trusted aide, Zelda la Grange, a white Afrikaner.

“Now looking back, if you [asked] me at the age of twenty-three I would probably have denied being a racist,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday. “Now it’s easier, because you can recognize the change in yourself.”

La Grange was born the year after Mandela was sent to prison; little in her upbringing suggests she was destined to be confidant to the world’s foremost black liberation leader.

She had been so ignorant of her country’s politics that she hadn’t even heard of Mandela when it was announced he would be released from prison, in 1990.

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