TODAY   |  February 09, 2013

Mandela’s grandchildren launch reality show

The granddaughters of former president of South African Nelson Mandela are starring in a new reality show about their family, called “Being Madela,” which documents their life as part of South Africa’s unofficial “first family.” TODAY’s Lester Holt reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> earlier this morning i had a chance to speak to the granddaughter of the former president of south africa , nelson mandela . they are starring in a new show called "being mandela ." a reality show . i began by asking them why they decided to appear in a reality show .

>> well, we wanted to give viewers an inside into our family. we come from such a famous family, the mandela family. and we thought it might be a good idea to showcase our daily lives, our personal aspirations. and because we're family, there's a bit of conflict in there. more importantly, we wanted to showcase south africa , our beautiful country .

>> so so how your grandfather?

>> our grandmother's doing great. we saw him before we came. last week, we spent time with him. he wanted to say bye because we were coming. he's doing well. we see him all the time. he's in good spirits and is happy to be honored by family.

>> that's great. on the show, at one point you talk about the naming traditions in the mandela family. i want to show a clip and talk more about that. here it is.

>> okay.

>> my grandmother winnie came by to do the naming of my son. she literally is the one responsible of naming everybody in the family. so she was there on the day.

>> it's quite a procedure. my grandmother spends like countless days coming up with lists of names. in our family, all our naimes start with a zed.

>> are we going to say your grandmother?

>> yes, she's virtually with us every day. you will see her a lot. she makes a joke and says we haven't paid her to do the show. she's very much involved in the show.

>> and your granddad, you call him big grandpa.

>> the kids. the great grandkids call him big grandpa.

>> we're not going to see him --

>> not directly. but you will hear us referencing about him. you will hear us talking about him.

>> does she watch reality tv ?

>> no, he doesn't. you know, our grandfather spends a lot of time at home. you know, we like going out of the house. he reads the papers a lot.

>> yeah.

>> but no. he doesn't watch reality tv . ours will be the first that he'll get to see. we're excited about that.

>> it's also one of the places i found most fascinating and emotional to visit was the prison where your grandfather was held. you went there for the first time and had a deeply emotional experience.

>> yes. when i got there, one of the guards who looked after my grandfather in prison told me how he smuggled me in to see my grandfather --

>> as an infant.

>> eight months old. he wanted to give him a sense of normalcy, to see his grandchild. he took the blankets, covered my face, ran me into the cell. he gave me a hug and kiss. and he took me out. it was emotional just to hear that i was the first one that he saw. you know, what a special moment that was for him.

>> is some of this really kind of discovering your own history as a family? i mean, you know the history. but to now have the cameras following you, are you getting a different picture of your upbringing?

>> there are many elements of that on the show. you know, we go to robin island for the first time. this is something we haven't done for 23 years. we've tried countless times before, but for some reason it never happened. it's a very emotional journey for us. it's great that we get to share it with so many people. i think it will teach things about our culture and family and history. so yeah, we're really, really excited.

>> as i told you when i sat down, it's an amazing country. we appreciate you coming here and sharing some of it with us. congratulations on the show.

>> thank you.

>> thank you.

>> thank you for being here.