Keeping Up with the Mandelas

by Katherine Connell

A little known fact about Nelson Mandela: He enjoys watching the TLC reality-TV show Toddlers & Tiaras, at least according to Zaziwe Mandela, one of his granddaughters who is leveraging her famous last name into a new reality-TV series of her own called “Being Mandela.” The show will follow Zaziwe and her sister Swati “as they try to carry on the family legacy while juggling motherhood in Johannesburg,” according to the Associated Press.

Despite his supposed fondness for the genre, Nelson Mandela will not be making any cameos, though his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the sisters’ grandmother, figures prominently in the show:

Their lives are special and glamorous and they know it. They hope that U.S. audiences — COZI TV is a new network launched by NBC Owned Television Stations — will see a vibrant and modern side of South Africa through their eyes.

They also bicker. The family, especially Madikizela-Mandela, loves to gossip about when Swati, the single mother of a 4-year-old daughter, is going to get married. Swati is furious when Zaziwe, despite being sworn to secrecy, blurts to their grandmother that her sister is DATING someone. Zaziwe, 35, is married to an American businessman and has three children.

The sisters are the daughters of Zenani Mandela and Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini of Swaziland. But parents everywhere will delight in seeing that being royal doesn’t help them face toddler tantrums or get older children out of bed and into school uniforms.

Nelson Mandela’s oldest grandchild, Ndileka Mandela, disputes the idea that he’s a fan of reality TV. “I know he watches National Geographic and news channels but I don’t know if he watches Toddlers & Tiaras,” she told the Guardian. “I’ve never seen him watch the program.”

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