By: Janice Malone
Sisters Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini are the granddaughters of former South African President Nelson Mandela and his ex-wife Winnie Mandela. Both young ladies are now the stars of the new reality television show, “Being Mandela,” which is launched last Sunday night on COZI TV Network (www.COZITV.com). COZI TV is a new network developed by NBC Universal that is currently available to more than 31 million viewers in the largest markets in the country. The Being Mandela reality show follows the next generation of this unique South African family through the experiences of sisters Swati and Zaziwe, giving viewers a glimpse into their daily lives, tight-knit family, conflicts and personal aspirations.
Highlights of the 13-episode season include the two sisters first ever visit to Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, where international icon was imprisoned for 18 years. While there, the sisters see the jail cell where their grandfather lived, tour the limestone quarry where he worked, which caused permanent eye and lung damage to Mr. Mandela who is now 94, and meet the former warden who remembers helping to smuggle Zaziwe into the prison as a new baby so Mandela could meet her.
Zaziwe and Swati are the daughters of Zenani Mandela Dlamini and Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini, a Prince of Swaziland. Both women were born in South Africa, but spent much of their youth in exile in the United States while their grandfather was imprisoned. They returned to South Africa as teenagers upon their grandfather’s release from prison in 1991. Zaziwe, age 35, is married to an American businessman, who she met as a college student in the United States at Clark Atlanta University, where she earned her degree in Psychology. They married in 2002 and have three young children. Zaziwe has worked both in the United States and in South Africa, with a passion for nation building and a transformational agenda. Swati, age 33, has one child and holds a degree in Public Relations / Marketing from Midrand Graduate Institute in South Africa. She has worked in Public Relations across a wide range of industries, and is currently the Communications Director for the 21 Icons Global project, an effort to document the living icons of the 21st century, including Nelson Mandela, through photography, film and written narrative.
Both Zaziwe and Swati live live in Johannesburg, South Africa with their families but The Tennessee Tribune got the opportunity to speak with them exclusively during their visit in America last week to promote their brand new reality show Being Mandela.
Swati L and Zazwe Dlamini
TRIBUNE: It’s such an honor to speak with both of you. Congratulations on the new reality show. What can viewers expect to see?
Z. DLAMINI: “The show just basically follows us as the next generation of the Mandela family. It will give the viewers a window into what really goes on into our daily lives. People will also get to see a different side of our country of South Africa. We are so proud of how far the country has come since the apartheid years.”
S.DLAMINI: “Yes, so much has changed within our country. On the show viewers will see us doing fun activities like going shark diving in Cape Town, which is quite fascinating. You will see us going to Robben Island for the first time since our grandfather was released after being a prisoner there for much of his life. We’ll also be traveling to Swaziland and other areas near South Africa. So there’s a lot to see for the viewers in this show. We are so excited to be a part of the COZI TV Network.”
TRIBUNE: Did you say you guys are doing some shark diving?
(They both laugh): “Yes!”
S. DLAMINI: “It really was fun, scary and exciting at the same time. I talked Zaziwe into doing it doing this. But by the time we got on the boat I started to think maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all. It turned out to be quite fascinating being in the water with these great white sharks in their natural environment. There’s this little area in Cape Town that’s known all over the world for its great shark diving. So the viewers will get to us diving, coming to grips with our fears and how we face them, which turned out to be quite fun.”
TRIBUNE: How did the whole idea of getting the reality show originally develop?
Z.DLAMINI: “We were approached by two record producers who were in South Africa doing another show. They suggested the idea about a reality show to us. We had actually been approached in the past by other producers about doing some type of TV show. So we gave it a lot of thought, and consulted our family members about it. Once we decided on what the exact angle would be, especially with the angles of how far South Africa has come as a country and our daily lives. We think many of the things we experience everyday are relatable to so many people. We’re young. We’re educated. We’re businesswomen and we’re mothers. We’re also very much a part of the production of the show too. We’re kind of in control of what goes out there with this show. This was a very important element for us to have before we even signed on to do the show.”
TRIBUNE: I understand that your grandmother Winnie is also a part of this show.
S. DLAMINI: “Our grandmother supports us in almost anything that we do. The Mandela name is our name as well. She was really excited for us about the show. She’s such a big part of our lives. We speak to her every single day. We see her on a regular basis. She often goes shopping for us, so it just wouldn’t make sense for her not to be a part of this TV show because she’s such an integral part of our lives every single day. The viewers will get to see how much fun she is. She often jokes with us when she says we don’t pay her enough to be a part of the show, we should pay her more. She loves to laugh and joke.”
TRIBUNE: As the whole world knows, your grandfather had some health issues recently. How is he doing now?
Z. DLAMINI: “Our grandfather is doing really well. We see him all the time. He loves spending time with his children, grand kids and great grandchildren. We saw him and hugged him goodbye the day before we left South Africa to come to the U.S. to promote the show. So he’s in very good spirits.”
TRIBUNE: What was the initial reaction from her grandfather about you ladies doing this reality show?
S. DLAMINI: “Our grandfather is very supportive of our aspirations and dreams. Both of our grandparents are. Ultimately for them they fought so that we can have the choice to do whatever we want to do in our lives. My grandmother often says, ‘I spent many days in prison so that each of you can have a choice to decide what it is you want to do.’ So yes, our show will offer something different and interesting.”
TRIBUNE: Tell us about this new clothing venture that you’ve created.
Z. DLAMINI: “The line is called Long Walk To Freedom. We launched it on July 18th which is our grandfather’s birthday. We’re developing the company, along with our two brothers. The company was named after his best-selling autobiography book. Viewers of the Being Mandela show will get a chance to see us working on this new business because we’re still developing the brand but we have some items that can be purchased online by going to the website: www.lwtfbrand.com In the show you will see us working on trying to get the line into various American stores and other places. We’re very excited about both the new clothing line and the TV show as well. We hope everyone will please tune in to watch.”