Chalk this one up to another example of famous offspring and their untamable itch to become reality stars. This Sunday, a new show called “Being Mandela,” which stars two of Nelson Mandela’s granddaughters — Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini — is premiering in the United States on the Cozi TV channel. I’ll let that one sink in for a moment.
We’ve seen this sort of spectacle before to a lesser degree with celebrities. Remember how Ozzy Osbourne’s badassery was obliterated when we saw him snoring on a chaise lounge and moaning over doggy doo in “The Osbournes”? Then Clint Eastwood’s wife and daughters decided it would be a great idea to star in their own reality show, and it turned out even worse than we imagined. On a very similar note, I don’t want to learn things about Nelson Mandela that would seek to diminish his stature. Like, I don’t want to see him scratching his nuts while reading the morning paper. And I definitely don’t want to learn that he watches “Toddlers & Tiaras.” Oh wait. He definitely does the latter, according to his granddaugthers. People, this is only the beginning:
It seemed that Nelson Mandela’s life, from prison on Robben Island to president of South Africa, had been documented from every conceivable angle. Yet on Friday came a fresh revelation that suggested you might never really know someone.
Mandela, 94, is an avid viewer of the reality TV series Toddlers and Tiaras. Or so his granddaughters claim.
Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini were promoting their own reality TV series, Being Mandela, which begins in the US on Sunday. In an interview with Associated Press (AP) they suggested that Mandela, world renowned as a liberation hero, statesman and Nobel peace laureate, “sort of likes” reality TV and will “definitely” watch their show.
“You’ll be interested to know that he loves Toddlers and Tiaras,” a laughing Swati said. Zaziwe added hastily: “Because of the kids! He just loves children.”
It seems an unlikely pastime for a man whose hinterland is known to include boxing and Handel and Tchaikovsky and who is said to read half a dozen newspapers a day, neatly folding them as he goes.
Ndileka Mandela, his eldest grandchild, denied any knowledge of Mandela watching reality TV. “I know he watches National Geographic and news channels but I don’t know if he watches Toddlers and Tiaras,” she said. “I’ve never seen him watch the programme.”
The claim will do no harm to publicity efforts for Being Mandela on Cozi TV. South Africa’s first black president, who was recently treated for a lung infection and had surgery to remove gallstones, does not feature in the series but the women’s grandmother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, is said to relish making cameo appearances.
The granddaughters sought to allay fears that South Africa’s most revered family is entering “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” territory. “We get asked this question a lot,” Dlamini said in the AP interview. “Is this not going to tarnish the name and is this not going to be bad for the name? “But our grandparents have always said to us, this is our name too, and we can do what we think is best fitting with the name, as long as we treat it with respect and integrity.”
The 13-episode first season follows the two women as they try to carry on the family legacy while juggling motherhood in Johannesburg.
The sisters, who spent most of their childhood in exile in the US, make a poignant visit to the prison where their grandfather spent 18 of the 27 years he was incarcerated by the white-minority regime. Swati has been working on publishing the prison diaries that her grandmother wrote but now cannot bear to read.
The sisters, along with two brothers, have become the latest famous names to launch a fashion line, called Long Walk to Freedom after their grandfather’s autobiography, according to AP. They hope US audiences will see a vibrant and modern side of South Africa through their eyes.
“They also bicker. The family, especially Madikizela-Mandela, loves to gossip about when Swati, the single mother of a four-year-old daughter, is going to get married,” AP added. “Swati is furious when Zaziwe, despite being sworn to secrecy, blurts to their grandmother that her sister is dating someone. Zaziwe, 35, is married to an American businessman and has three children.”
No matter how Nelson’s granddaughters attempt to sugarcoat what they are truly doing here — blatantly capitalizing upon their family name — with “poignant” moments involving the history of Mandela, we all know what this show is going to turn into. All these ladies will really be doing is showcasing their day-to-day lives in an effort to become stars in their own rights. Such a shame.
Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet, WENN, and the Mail