How Lindiwe is making mom Felicia Mabuza-Suttle proud with her new show, Coconut Confidential

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Growing up, Lindiwe battled to understand her identity – now she’s channelled that struggle into a new animated series (Photo:instagram.com/lindiwesuttle)
Growing up, Lindiwe battled to understand her identity – now she’s channelled that struggle into a new animated series (Photo:instagram.com/lindiwesuttle)

Lindiwe wrote the script for the series and is also its executive producer. The animation was done in Nigeria and the voice cast – including Candice Modiselle as the voice of young Lindi, Kim Engelbrecht as adult Lindi, Amanda Du-Pont, Noxolo Dlamini and Nambita Ntsaluba – is South African. Local rapper Rouge performs the show’s theme song. 

“I always found it funny that I was labelled a coconut. I mean, my mom was South African, my African blood runs deep,” says Lindiwe, whose father is American author and business consultant Earl Suttle (76).  

“But that beautiful heritage was forgotten and eroded where I grew up. I was raised in lilywhite neighbourhoods. My friends didn’t know I had daily reminders from my black parents that I had to work harder, get better grades, practise my backhand longer, dress meticulously – all the things we as black kids have to do.”  

The surge of Black Lives Matter protests in the US and around the world inspired her to tell her story, she says.  

“Our black bodies, from South Africa to America, are being murdered and we need respect.  

Growing up, I hardly ever saw stories with people that looked like me. We need more stories that explore acceptance and identity and show that we’re just the same, even in our differences.” 

Felicia couldn’t be prouder of her daughter and her new project. “One thing I’ve always tried to instil in my kids is to live their passion,” she says. “I had no doubt Lindi would be successful in her own right. She’s always been an activist – I call her my rebel with a cause.” 

Felicia (71), who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, returned to SA from the US in the ’90s after heeding Nelson Mandela’s call for South Africans to bring home their skills and contribute towards building democracy. She started The Felicia Show, which became must-watch television for millions. 

“It was a weekly mass-counselling session for South Africans on how to reach out and forgive during our time of transition to democracy,” she says. “For me, having studied and worked in media, using television to bring black and white, young and mature together after 40 years of apartheid was the one way to contribute.” 

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