25 February 2016
— Times LIVE (@TimesLIVE) February 23, 2016
Zelda la Grange published her memoir, Good Morning, Mr Mandela, in 2014 to wide acclaim. Since then, it has been published worldwide, in several languages; now it is set to become a film.
The book covers her years as private secretary to Nelson Mandela during his presidency and in his post-presidential staff until his death in 2013. La Grange was also a founding staff member of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
While many books have been written about the life of Mandela, La Grange’s was the first to offer an inside look at the day-to-day dealings of the person behind the icon. It offers a rare portrait of a humble but proud man on the pinnacle of history.
The book also explores the contrast of a young, white Afrikaans woman serving the first black president of a newly democratic South Africa. It acts as a metaphor for the country as a whole, dealing with rapid changes and learning new ways to reconcile its turbulent history with its transition to democracy.
In the book, La Grange also pays tribute to a man who taught her valuable lessons about human relationships and forgiveness.
Bill Clinton, the former American president, called La Grange’s book “an important reminder of the lessons Madiba taught us all”.
That remarkable story is now set to become a film, as announced on 22 February.
Renowned, award-winning producer Trudie Styler, the producer of cult hit Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and the Bafta-winning science fiction film Moon, and her Maven Pictures have bought the rights to the book and have already begun working on a script.
La Grange relayed the news via Twitter this week, enthusiastic about telling one of South Africa’s good stories.
Thank you Maven Pictures for believing in the power of a South African story https://t.co/9QBWbx3lXD
— Zelda la Grange ✌ (@ZeldalaGrangeSA) February 22, 2016
As news of the proposed film spread this week, naturally the Twitterverse was rife with speculation about who should play Zelda in the film, with most suggesting that South African-born Oscar winner Charlize Theron would be the natural choice. Other suggestions included Julianne Moore, Naomi Watts and Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke.
More importantly, who should play Madiba this time around? With Oscar nominated performances by Idris Elba in Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom in 2013, and Morgan Freeman in Invictus, among other portrayals, it seems the field might be limited as far as international actors are concerned.
Perhaps this time, as has been a popular sentiment among South Africans, a local actor should get the role: John Kani, Sello Maake ka Ncube or World War Z’s Fana Mokoena, maybe?
Whoever may be cast, the film, no doubt, will be an opportunity to tell the world another great South African story.