If the Mandela name still sells, why not flog it?

2011-10-01 19:17

Young starlet Nonhle Thema tried it and was vilified by the South African public.

Now three women with the most famous surname in the world, Mandela, are launching their own reality show.

This week the local entertainment industry was set abuzz when a press release was issued stating that a reality TV show featuring a trio of Mandela grandchildren was afoot.

There’s Rolling Zola, which will surely revive the career of the baby mama-prone former kwaito star. Then there’s the twins, Hlelo and Ntando Masina with their Blame It on The Fame.

Then of course there’s douchebag of the moment, Kenny Kunene’s So What?

There’s a lot of bad taste going around but if random people can dish it up, why not the Mandelas?

I mean, the iconic former statesman’s name has been used to sell everything from national hope to golf shirts. And if that’s not bastardising, I don’t know what is.

So on Thursday the grandchildren were unveiled, and ... (insert confused faces and needle scratching, grounding to a halt sound ala Ally McBeal right here) ...

“Who are these people?” asked a colleague.

“Eer ... I don’t know. But hey, there are like a hundred of them, right,” I replied.

It’s true too. Try putting together the Mandela family tree and you find so many branches it makes you dizzy. And while I give props to these new (to me) crop of grandkids, I take exception to a few things.

Firstly, they are not children but women who seem to have things going well for them.

There’s Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway (34), punted as the mother figure of the show.

She’s married to an American businessman and has a 10-year-old son, a two-year-old daughter and a third child due in January.

She is involved in a family business, Mandela Dlamini Associates, and plans to launch a clothing line.

Her sister, Swati (32), is a single mother getting back into the career world with plans to set up a foundation focused on the housing, education and medical sectors.

They are the daughters of Zenani, born to Madiba’s second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Their cousin, Dorothy Adjoa Amuah (27), is said to be a socialite with a law degree and an MBA from Monaco. She is in the luxury brands market.

All three were raised in Boston in the US – which deals a blow to the local angle.

Now why would these women, who for all intents and purposes are young, independent and professional, want to open their homes and lives to invading cameras – especially since the rest of the clan has maintained a relatively low profile? Do they want fame for the sake of fame?

Which brings me to my next point ... they said they will not be the “African Kardashians” and will be “breaking away from the (Mandela) legacy to find their own feet”.

This is what their director, Graeme Swanepoel, was quoted as saying in Channel24.

So just to be clear – they use the Mandela name to call a press conference for a show that does not even have a broadcaster yet, and should it happen, they’ll be famous for being famous. Riiiiight....

Producer Rick Leed, who produces E!Entertainment’s plastic surgery show, Dr 90210, says they have started shooting the pilot and “organic snippets”, reports Gabisile Ndebele.

On Friday night the cameras were at a party hosted for Madikizela-Mandela, which the women attended.

“Most of the show will be shot in South Africa although there will be cases where we shoot in New York because of Dorothy’s work in the luxury goods business,” said Leed.

“Also her work might see us filming at one of the fashion capitals like Paris. If cases arise where Mr Mandela is at events and we are allowed to shoot we will but we don’t want people to expect that of the show at all,” he added tantalisingly.

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