Swati Dlamini and Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway, Nelson Mandela’s granddaughters, are set to star in a reality television programme called Being Mandela.
Swati Dlamini and Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway say they have the former South African president’s blessing.
The 13-episode series, already filmed, follows the two women as they try to promote the family’s legacy while juggling motherhood in Johannesburg.
In interviews this week, they said their 94-year-old grandfather was doing well following his recent health scare.
They said he is “happy and healthy”, and produced a photograph taken at the start of the month in which Nelson Mandela holds his youngest great-grandchild – Zaziwe’s one-year-old son – on his lap.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader of the fight against white minority rule spent almost three weeks in hospital in December undergoing treatment for a lung infection and gallstones.
Swati Dlamini and Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway, in their 30s, are the daughters of Zenani Mandela and Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini of Swaziland. Their grandmother is Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who also makes an appearance in the show.
The series intersperses the daily challenges of family life, such as toddler tantrums and getting children to school on time, with the work the women are doing to carry on the Mandela name.
They make an emotional visit to the prison on Robben Island where their grandfather spent 18 of his 27 years imprisoned by the apartheid regime, NBC Universal, the American corporate owner of the show’s broadcaster, said in a statement.
They are also seen – along with their two brothers – launching a fashion line called Long Walk to Freedom. That is the title of their grandfather’s autobiography.
The two women, who spent much of their childhood in exile in the US, insist the programme will not damage the Mandela name.
“We get asked this question a lot. Is this not going to tarnish the name and is this not going to be bad for the name?” Swati Dlamini said in an interview with the Associated Press.
“But our grandparents have always said to us, this is our name too, and we can do what we think is best fitting with the name, as long as we treat it with respect and integrity.”
Nelson Mandela served as South Africa’s first black president from 1994 to 1999 and is regarded by many as the father of the nation.
His health has been a cause of concern for many years. He first contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while imprisoned at Robben Island and has been admitted to hospital on three occasions in the past two years.
Nelson Mandela retired from public life in 2004 and has been rarely seen in public since.
Being Mandela is to be broadcast to US audiences from Sunday by COZI TV, a network launched by NBC Owned Television Studios.