These SA celebs’ babies are killing the Instagram game

Zoe Mabalane with parents, musician Kabelo and actress Gail
Zoe Mabalane with parents, musician Kabelo and actress Gail
Image: Zoe Mabalane/Instagram

Are you one of the many South Africans that have at least one friend who modelled for Pampers or Huggies before they were self-conscious about their wrinkly, denuded little bodies being on show?

However, as with most facets of human behaviour today, the emergence of social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, the scope of our exposure to the infant elite has magnified.

We – and I am shamefully guilty of this – fixate in advance on the prospective names of celebrities’ children; we monitor their metamorphoses from baby bumps into miniature humans; and we judge their parents for their excesses and their shortcomings in turn.

Some of this voyeurism must be attributable to primal parental instincts we possess—, an impulse not unlike the unthinking tenderness and delight with which we respond to puppies and ducklings.

But there is also something quintessentially contemporary about our cultish surveillance of famous babies. Sure, once upon a time there was Shirley Temple, and the Gerber Baby; but now there is an increase of children with the kind of Instagram popularity that is not enjoyed by many.

South African Sbahle Mzizi boasts a modest 124K followers on Instagram. Her bio indicates that she has presidential aspirations, and she’s often pictured wearing polished Nike ensembles and posing goofily with her mother. At the moment, she’s just over seven months old.

The daughter of multitalented entertainer Ntando Duma and rapper Junior De Rocka, Sbahle already had 30 000 followers on her private Instagram account when she was still in utero; and last year, she was named the official ambassador of Cute Kids Baby Nappies (which is apt, since she really is unspeakably cute.)

At almost three years old, Zoe Mabalane (main picture) is a pro at taking selfies. The charismatic toddler of Kwaito star Kabelo Mabalane and actress Gail Mabalane might nnt be entirely steady on her feet, but she does have a steady following of no less than 20.3K people on Instagram.

Zakes Bantwini and Nandi Madida's one-year-old son, Shaka Madida, got a personal Instagram account when he was just one month old, and has since accrued a following of more than 23K people.

Shaka Madida/Instagram
Shaka Madida/Instagram
Image: Nandi Madida

And these enormous audiences – which begin to seem inversely proportionate to the children’s one-digit ages – are actually rather modest, in relation to those of some American celebutots. So there is clearly something about the children of celebrity that continues to appeal to our imaginations.

Is it that we assume that some aspect of their parents’ mystique will have been transferred to them, genetically? Or is it, rather, that parenthood is the most humanising lens through which to re-view our idols, and bring their lives into some kind of meaningful relationship with our own? In any event, the baby album is dead; long live Instagram, and the infants that reign there.

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