Kweku Mandela, Grace Hightower, Robert De Niro, Ndaba Mandela

*Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren are carrying his torch, this time to the theaters.

During the month of April between 11:57 p.m. and 12 a.m., the words of the former leader of South Africa emanated across billboards in New York’s Times Square thanks to a short film “The Power of Words.”

The short is part of a larger film project, a collection of five narratives that celebrate and interpret the words of Nelson Mandela.

As part of a collaborative effort with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Times Square Alliance, and Montblanc, the film was helmed by two of Mandela’s grandchildren, Kweku, 28, and Ndaba, 30. The cousins hosted a special screening on April 19.

In an interview with, they discussed the project.

Black Enterprise: Can you tell us about The Power of Words, in your own words?

Kweku Mandela: The Power of Words is basically a project and collaboration between the Tribeca Film Institute, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and the Times Square Alliance, and it’s powered by Montblanc. The really unique thing about it is that we’re taking five high-profile, world-renowned directors and teaming them up with five young aspiring filmmakers from the Tribeca Film Institute Fellowship Program. Those ten filmmakers will go out to five Boys & Girls Clubs around the country, and they’ll each be given one quote from my grandfather, and they’re going to have to interpret that quote into a modern-day short film that deals with stuff we deal with on a day-to-day.

BE: How did the partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute come about?

KM: I became involved with Tribeca in 2011 through one of its directors, Tamir Muhammad. We had been talking about doing a project. It just took us a long time to kind of figure out what we wanted to do, and how we were going to have an impact. And so, we found The Power of Words. One of the things we liked about it was, as much as this was inspired by my grandfather, this is something that could translate so easily to Maya Angelou’s words, or Malcolm X’s words, or Martin Luther King’s words. So that’s what were hoping to do: find people that have impacted people around the world with their words, and start working with young filmmakers to visualize and transform those into something that younger generations in this day and age can understand.

Check out the full story at Black Enterprise.