Keeping up with the Mandelas: Nelson's granddaughters star in new reality TV show 'Being Mandela'

Nelson Mandela's granddaughters star in a new show about "carrying on the family legacy while juggling motherhood in Johannesburg"

First it was the Osbournes, then the Kardashians, and now even the Mandelas have their own reality TV show.

The granddaughters of the former South African president appeared in the first episode of Being Mandela on Sunday night, which aired in the US on Cosi TV on the 23rd anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

The show follows the lives of Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini, the fashionable, 30-something granddaughters of Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The former Freedom Fighter, 94, does not appear in the show, but his ex-wife Winnie “Big Mommy” Madikizela-Mandela features, and appears to enjoy the limelight.

Despite Mandela’s decision not to appear on the big screen, his granddaughters have admitted that the former anti-apartheid activist “sort of likes” reality TV and will “definitely” watch their show.

“He loves Toddlers and Tiaras,” says Swati. “Because of the kids! He loves the children.”

Being Mandela, however, is less concerned with “following families on their quest for sparkly crowns, big titles and lots of cash” like Toddlers and Tiaras. Instead, the 13-episode season follows the two women as they “carry on the family legacy while juggling motherhood in Johannesburg”.

In one episode the sisters make an emotional visit to the prison on Robben Island where Mandela spent 18 out of 27 years in prison; in another Swati works on publishing the prison diary that her grandmother wrote but cannot bear to read.

As with most reality shows there is also a healthy dose of family bickering. The biggest source of tension is Winnie, who loves to put pressure on Swati, single mother of a four-year-old daughter, about getting  married. Swati becomes furious when Zaziwe blurts out to their grandmother that her sister is dating someone despite being sworn to secrecy.

What, then, does Mandela make of the show? He may indulge in a little reality TV, but what does he make of his granddaughters and ex-wife appearing in a series that so obviously trades off his name and reputation?

“Like every family, there's a bit of drama here and there, but we're very respectful of our name and we're very respectful of our grandparent's legacy and we're very mindful of that. In anything that we try to do, we always try to maintain the integrity of the family,” says Swati.

“To be able to be in a position as a woman to choose if I want to go into entertainment — I'm fortunate that my grandmother did that for me. She fought, she was in solitary confinement for 18 months so that I can sit here and I can have this choice and live it out as I please.

“We're looking back at our history to say look how far we've come, as a country, as a nation ... and we're excited about continuing the legacy, but we're doing it in our own way,” she added.

The sisters have decided to further their family legacy in another way by producing a clothing line named after Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom and inspired by his colourful Madiba shirts.

The day-to-day running of Long Walk to Freedom is a major focus of the show, creating the squabbles and semi-scripted moments that define reality TV.

Perhaps the producers took inspiration from Jersey Shore, where the likes of Snooki and The Situation get into various sticky situations with their boss Danny, owner of “Shore Store”, a T-shirt shop on the boardwalk where the tanned guidos work.

Let’s hope the comparisons to Jersey Shore end there.

Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
artSistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?