Winnie the reality star

2013-03-17 10:00

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Lesley Mofokeng chats to struggle icon’s granddaughters about their new TV show.

Here comes Winnie Mandela, the ­reality star. It took the efforts of her grand­daughters to earn the anti­apartheid struggle icon her reality-star credentials.

Swati Dlamini and Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway are the ­children of Winnie’s eldest daughter, Zenani, and Prince Dlamini of Swaziland.

Viewers will get a chance to climb inside the family’s colourful lives through Being Mandela, the reality show set in South ­Africa that lifts the lid on the private lives of the next generation of Mandelas.

There is plenty of drama, ­suspense, bitching, personality clashes and swearing – all the hallmarks of reality TV – in the show, which will be broadcast from next month on TopTV’s Fox Entertainment channel.

In the first of 13 episodes, Winnie is seen boasting about her resilience. “We always ­overcome,” she says.

“We’re strong and tough,” adds Swati. “Thanks to grandma’s genes,” Winnie brags.

“It’s the Madikizela side,” Swati agrees. “Your grandad’s side doesn’t have my genes. And never will,” Winnie giggles.

This sets the tone for the show, which explores the lives of the two women: Zaziwe, who is married with three children, and Swati, who is single with one daughter.

On the show, Zaziwe describes her eldest son, Ziyanda (12), as full of drama. “He’s ­definitely a Mandela child. Takes after my grandmother. There’s drama all the time.”

Local viewers will recognise Nelson Mandela Square, exclusive pavement restaurants in Sandton and Melrose Arch, the splendour of Table Mountain and Cape Town’s popular ­beaches.

In one scene, they visit ­Robben Island (Zaziwe was smuggled in as a baby while Madiba was imprisoned to meet her grandfather).

The women are aware of the constant spotlight on their family name. Swati told City Press in an interview this week: ­“Being a Mandela comes with immense pressure and a lot of responsibility, but our mother kept us sheltered and out of the public eye, and created a normal ­environment for us to grow up in. We have normal lives and go about our lives in the way we feel fit.”

Zaziwe adds: “We don’t go out there and say, ‘We’re Mandelas, look at us’. My mother always said we mustn’t think we’re ­special because of who we are related to.”

They were approached by two American producers to create the show. “We thought long and hard about taking this road and what it would actually mean.

Coming from a private and reserved family to putting ­yourself out there was a huge consideration.

“We realised there would be many positive things from the show,” says Swati.

She describes it as “a family show, historical, interesting, fun and ­adventurous”.

“Our grandparents have ­always said it’s our name and legacy as well. They are supportive. That’s why our grandmother is in it,” says Zaziwe.

Touting the show to local broadcasters proved a challenge for the duo, but this week they announced that it would be broadcast on TopTV.

In the US, it’s already in the fifth week on NBC’s Cozi TV channel.

Swati says her mother, ­Zenani, congratulated them. “Before she took the post to ­Argentina as the South African ambassador, she said, ‘Sweetie, I’m so proud of you and your sister, that you started something and finished it’.

“For three years, we’ve been talking about it. Our family also calls us and says ‘well done’ for doing it.”

The two are clearly proud of their family’s street cred.

At one point in the show, Zaziwe reminds viewers: “We’re one of the few families in the world with two grandfathers on money: King Sobhuza in Swaziland and Madiba in South ­Africa.” The younger Mandelas are ­already planning Season 2.

“There’s still so much to do,” enthuses Swati.

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