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The sisters said their grandfather is “happy and healthy.”

Zaziwe showed a Feb. 2 photograph of Mandela at home, flashing his familiar smile, with his youngest great-grandchild on his lap – Zaziwe’s one-year-old son. The picture is a rare public image of Mandela, whose last appearance on a major stage was during the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa.

Mandela, who always lamented his long separation from his family during his imprisonment, is happiest these days when his offspring are running around being loud, his granddaughters said.

“We’re in and out of the house. We’re loud and he loves the noise,” Zaziwe said.

The granddaughters say their grandfather – to the world, a symbol of integrity and magnanimity – holds the family to high standards and sets rules for when the children should be home and when dinner should start.

“He’s a very strict person. Most people wouldn’t think that but he really, really is,” Zaziwe said.

The sisters are closer to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who divorced Mandela in 1996. Their adoring description of their grandmother as the doting matriarch stands in contrast with her checkered public image. Beloved by many poor urban blacks, Madikizela-Mandela also faces accusations that she and her bodyguard unit committed 18 killings in the 1980s. She denies it.

“She’s fun. She never says no to us. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my grandmother say no to us,” Zaziwe said.

Still, the series shows Big Mommy clearly taking charge of the family. She marches into the hospital room where Zaziwe gave birth to Zen with a list of possible names for the baby boy.

The sisters say it was only after Mandela retired from public life that they started to get to know their grandfather.

“Our grandfather always told us that he belongs to the country and he’s of service to the country and he doesn’t belong to us as a family. And that’s the sacrifice he’s made for the country and that what he’s told us as far as I can remember,” Swati said.

AP Entertainment Writer Lauri Neff contributed to this story.

On the Internet:

www.cozitv.com 

http://www.nelsonmandela.org/images/uploads/Nelson–Mandelas–Warders.pdf 

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