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
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
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.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas