Bloem braces for the Big O

2011-06-18 18:02

Bloemfontein is rolling out a large red carpet for the Oprah juggernaut, which hits town on Thursday.

Lacea Loader, the spokesperson for the University of the Free State (UFS), said they had been inundated with ­people offering their services free of charge for Winfrey’s visit.

“We had offers for a transport service, free accommodation, artists who would like to perform and hairdressers.”

Loader said even the staff and students were eager to help with arrangements and administration for the visit.

The programme for the visit was ­already finalised, with Sibongile Khumalo, the Botshabelo String Orchestra, the ­Bloemfontein Children’s Choir and the Bartimea School for the Deaf and Blind providing the musical entertainment.

Several streets on the campus would be closed off on Thursday from noon.

Winfrey was due to receive an honorary doctorate in education from the UFS during a ceremony at the university’s Callie ­Human Centre.

Loader did not want to say more about Winfrey’s presence, but insiders told City Press that the talkshow host was ­only flying in for about four hours.

Tickets to the ceremony cost R10 and were sold out in just two hours.

Mpho Sikisi was quick to brag about her tickets, saying she bought two – as only two were ­allowed per person. “I ­decided to take my friend, Buyelwa Khethelo.”

Zelda Myburg was not that lucky, but lives in hope that she will be invited by one of her friends.

“At this stage I would do any respectable thing possible to get an invitation or ticket.”

UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jonathan Jansen, said Oprah approached the university.

He said she had obviously read about the university and wanted to visit it.

“She also requested an hour-and-a-half to address the staff and students. I did not think in my wildest dreams this was possible. This would be her first honorary degree outside ­America”.

Jansen said Winfrey was not the only famous person who has contacted him. ­Richard Branson had also written to him.

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