The latest American reality show looks like many others that have come before it. There are mothers and daughters and a grandmother naming a new baby and there is lot of talk of "Big Grandpa", who is very strict but never seen on camera - because Big Grandpa is Nelson Mandela.
"Being Mandela," a new series starting this weekend on COZI TV, will let US audiences into the lives of Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini, the fashionable, 30-something granddaughters of Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The 94-year-old former South African president, who has recently been hospitalised for treatment for a lung infection and had surgery to remove gallstones, does not appear in the series but his controversial ex-wife - "Big Mommy" to her grandchildren - does and seems to relish it.
The show promises to reveal a new side to a family which has often been in the news, and the sisters are sure that Big Grandpa will be watching as they revealed he already particularly loves one American reality show - Toddlers and Tiara's, which follows the fortunes of young beauty pageant entrants.
– Swati Dlamini
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? 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.
The 13-episode first season follows the two women as they try to carry on the family legacy while juggling motherhood in Johannesburg.
The sisters, who spent most of their childhood in exile in the United States, make an emotional visit to the prison on Robben Island where their grandfather spent 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned by South Africa's white-ruled government. Swati works on publishing the prison diaries that her grandmother wrote but now cannot bear to read.