Andrew Russell was born in Cape Town in 1964. He completed his school education at Bishops College in 1982 and enrolled at the University of Cape Town. After completing a B.Comm degree, a postgraduate diploma in Human Resource Management and then his High School Teaching Diploma, he did his two years of National Service, as was compulsory for all white males in South Africa at the time. He then taught Accounting at High School level for eight years before taking the bold step to leave teaching and start his own tourism businesses.
The first company he started, in 1998, was called Gateway to Newlands, offering guided behind the scenes tours of Newlands rugby and cricket stadiums and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. He then bought a retail travel agency and after three years launched his third tourism business, Cape Africa Tours, arranging sports and cultural tours to South Africa for schools, university and adult groups. He also co-owned a theatre in District Six for six years where they produced a dynamic musical show called Woza Cape Town.
In July 2018 Christo Brand asked Andrew to be his business manager, and they set out on an exciting adventure into the unknown to introduce the world to Christo and share his story. It soon became obvious that tourists to South Africa were desperate to meet Christo and hear his story about his journey with Mandela – privately over a meal; on a private tour around Robben Island; on a coach trip around the Peninsula or to the Winelands visiting Mandela sites; to a tour group at their hotel; on a helicopter flight around Robben Island. In fact, tourists were desperate to meet someone who had himself, met and known Nelson Mandela. A tourist one day aptly described Christo to Andrew as “the gateway to Nelson Mandela”.
Andrew also runs a sports related charity called sport4kids, raising funds and collecting sports equipment for young disadvantaged boys and girls looking for opportunities to participate in sport. The charity is currently funding one youngster at a High School in Cape Town.
Andrew is a passionate and fanatical South African, mad keen on sport and the proud dad of two children, Daniel aged 26 living and working in London, and Abigail aged 23 studying for her Masters in Biochemistry at UCT. Both of them share his passion for sport and whenever possible they love to meet up watch their national rugby and cricket sides performing. His favourite holiday destinations are Scotland, the country of his ancestors, and India – the spiritual home of his beloved sport, cricket.
Andrew is the editor of the second edition of Christo Brand’s book Doing Life with Mandela, and he is writing his own book on the lessons from the lives of Nelson Mandela and Christo, to be published in 2023 by Blue Ear Books.