The A-Listers

SOCIALS | Oprah Winfrey shared some words of wisdom for SA women

02 December 2018 - 00:00


It might be her 36th visit to this country, but the woman behind the most-watched daytime talk show in the US still pulls a crowd.
And many dressed to the nines to listen to Oprah Winfrey deliver the keynote address at the Nelson Mandela Foundation's (NMF's) Is'thunzi Sabafazi Dignity of Women event at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus on Thursday afternoon.
We were gathered outside the varsity's Imbizo Hall with avid fans patiently waiting to be allowed into the hall when in walked someone who is to local soccer what Oprah is to TV.
That's former Bafana and Leeds captain Lucas Radebe, who arrives with his wife Thobela. I ask Lucas what he thinks of the national team's prospects, considering their lacklustre play in recent years.
"We will get there, slowly but surely," he says, forever the optimist.
Then it's greeting Doreen Morris, who, as the first black woman to appear as an Afrikaans continuity announcer on the national broadcaster way back in 1984, can stake her claim in local TV history. Doreen was also undoubtedly my best-dressed on the day, in a striking African print creation by Palesa Mokubung's Mantsho label.
Up comes Carolyn Steyn, wife of billionaire businessperson Douw, whose exclusive Sandhurst hotel The Saxon is Oprah's usual home away from home. Have you had tea with Oprah this time? I ask Carolyn, who has arrived with an entourage including sister Sharon Barkhuizen.
"Actually, the last time I saw her we had breakfast," says the founder of 67 Blankets for Mandela.
Enough about the guests, you'll want to know about the lady of the hour, and it's not long before Oprah climbs out of a luxury SUV and is greeted by Graça Machel, her daughter Josina and the foundation's Sello Hatang, who was sporting a sorbet-pink jacket in a nod to the female-themed day.
Camera flashes go into overdrive as the woman listed on Bloomberg's billionaire list with an estimated net wealth of $4bn greets onlookers before being ushered inside.
Our MC for the day is Redi Tlhabi, the author and broadcaster who recently was embroiled in a twar with former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba.
There are performances by Mbongeni Ngema (ironic, perhaps, for a day celebrating the dignity of women) and Zonke Dikana.
Sello pays tribute to acclaimed Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu, who is resplendent in her traditional wear, before the NMF chair, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, makes his introductory remarks.
Shortly afterwards the day's panellists are welcomed - Josina, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, our former deputy pres who is now working for the UN, and Graça - before the crowd goes wild as Oprah walks in.
When the TV mogul delivers her address, the audience - including graduates of her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls - are entranced.
She pays tribute to Madiba, touching on how she spent 10 days and 10 nights with him and Graça in Qunu and how during their shared meals she developed the idea to build the school, which to date has seen more than 100 young women graduating from university, including two from Oxford.
But it is her vignettes of wisdom that resound with the crowd, including one where she points out that being described as "full of yourself" isn't such a bad thing.
As the dynamic media personality opined: "If you don't fill your own cup, others will drain you. You have to be full in order to be able to help those around you."
Sadly, though, when I look under my seat there is no key to a car - she gave 570 away over the 25 seasons of her show.

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