‘Vanity Fair’ is one of the most popular books about 19th century England and Europe. It depicts an era of splendour, social climbing and poverty, in the midst of an impending war, the Battle of Waterloo.
It’s a delicious insight into a world where what you have and who you know, are the only things you need in life to survive and live the life of your dreams, even when you are broke.
Such is the life of Becky Sharp, an orphaned daughter of an artist and dancer, who uses her wit and cunning to swindle her way into the upper crust of British aristocracy.
This came to me as I was watching the fifth episode of Mzansi Magic’s ‘KwaMamkhize’, a reality show on Shauwn Mkhize (née Mpisane) and her family.
She, like Becky Sharp, longed to be accepted into the upper crust of society. Unlike Becky, she is already moneyed and doesn’t need schemes to sustain her fancy life and the people surrounding her.
I must confess, I find the show deliciously entertaining. It is outrageous, and I am not in the least irritated by the displays of wealth, like her son, Andile, randomly asking her for R1-million.
I am fascinated by it, especially knowing the history and infamy that Shauwn has, thanks to her business dealings.
Unlike some of our celebrity reality shows, ‘KwaMamkhize’ gives us a look into the life of a person we don’t really know too much of. We know about her but haven’t been exposed to her everyday life, business dealings, parenting style, and who her friends are.
Another aspect of the show I enjoy is that it gives South Africa an inside look into some of the prominent players of Durban’s social scene, who, like the characters in ‘Vanity Fair’, especially Becky, are all, well; vain, pretty and lovers of fine things and have surrounded themselves with a person who will cater to their every whim.
But there are bonds which have been formed for years, that even with the frivolity of the things they talk about, they have clearly been through hell and back with each other. There’s loyalty, which I guess is one of the things Shauwn appreciates about her friends.
After watching the first five episodes, I realised I don’t care about Shauwn’s children, Andile and S’bahle. They are secondary characters who, I think, shouldn’t be really seen as their stories aren’t interesting enough. They take away from the fabled life of Shauwn.
‘KwaMamkhize’ may inspire some. It may elicit envy, ridicule and scorn from others. But it’s also a fun and silly show, heavily curated to show the world the luxurious life of Shauwn. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, right?
KwaMamkhize airs Thursdays, at 8pm on Mzansi Magic.