At two important junctures in her life, Melanie Verwoerd was told to keep quiet. But she had promised two men she loved and admired – Nelson Mandela and Gerry Ryan – that she would not be silenced. This book honours her promises.
As a Stellenbosch schoolgirl, Melanie met Wilhelm Verwoerd, grandson of the “father of apartheid”, HF Verwoerd, and at age twenty she married him. In the turbulent early 1990s, the two young Verwoerds did the unthinkable by joining the recently unbanned African National Congress.
Disowned by family and friends and ostracised by the Stellenbosch community, Melanie persisted on her chosen path. She served in the first nonracial parliament under Nelson Mandela, an experience, often surprisingly funny, recounted here in full colour.
Later, as South African ambassador to Ireland and eventually head of UNICEF Ireland, she played on the world stage. She also found personal happiness with Irish celebrity broadcaster Gerry Ryan – until his premature and shocking death shattered not only her heart, but also her career.
This is the story – poignant, amusing and tragic in turns – of an extraordinary South African woman who made her own choices and lived her own truth.