Think the Kennedys, with a dash of the Kardashians. That’s perhaps the best way to make sense of a new reality show set to launch early next year in South Africa. This time, however, starring the Mandelas.
Three grandchildren of former South African President Nelson Mandela announced Thursday they will soon be launching their own reality show, according to a statement from the producers.
The show’s leading ladies, sisters Swati Dlamini-Manaway, 34, and Zaziew Dlamini-Manaway, 32, and their cousin, Dorothy Adjoa Amuah, 27, spoke to reporters in Johannesburg about the series, which they say will not feature their grandfather, 93-year-old, Nelson Mandela.
“The show will be about our lives as young, black women…we’re not wearing ‘I’m a Mandela’ T-shirts,” Dlamini, the granddaughter of Mandela’s controversial ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, told the Mail & Guardian Online.
While the initial, and far-too-easy, impulse to compare the girls to a current reality show trio, may be hard to ignore, the Mandelas see their role on TV differently.
“We’re definitely not the African Kardashians, “Amuah said.
The creators of the show seem to be envisioning a new, high-brow style of reality TV.
They want to use the daily lives of the Mandela girls to showcase a new generation of working women in South Africa – while at the same time, giving a glimpse into the daily lives of this prominent, high-profile family.
Producer Rick Leed, previously the executive producer of “Dr. 90210,” told the Mail & Guardian Online, ”They clearly have a great love [for each other]. This may be part storytelling, part reality, except the story we are telling is real…it’s not going to detract from the dignity of Nelson Mandela.”
All three of the Mandela granddaughters grew up in Boston, MA, but have since returned to South Africa.
Their grandfather, Nelson Mandela, is one of South Africa’s most beloved leaders and a driving figure in the long fight against apartheid. Increasingly frail, he recently moved from Johannesburg to his hometown of Qunu, where he makes few public appearances.
His thoughts on the show are not known, and attempts to reach the Mandela family have been unsuccessful.
The show’s producer’s however, say the Mandela family feels they have “fought for the right for their children to choose their own destiny.”
And so what happened when destiny called? Reality TV.