Oprah celebrates her girls

2012-12-02 10:00

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Philanthropist produces her second crop of matriculants.

US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey is in town again.

This time Winfrey isn’t on holiday though – she’s in the country to celebrate the matriculants at her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

The 68 young women are the second group to matriculate from the school, which is in Henley-on-Klip in south Johannesburg. Oprah’s academy first opened in 2006.

“I can’t believe it’s happening again – not too long ago we were celebrating our pioneer class – now we have our second class,” an excited Winfrey told pupils, parents, teachers and special guests at the school during a visit yesterday.

Clad in a green dress and multicoloured six-inch heels, Winfrey began the proceedings singing along to the South African national anthem with her guests.

Then she took to the stage to address the gathering.

“To the parents, I want to thank you for loaning us your daughters who have also become our daughters.

“I am fulfilled with the girls and the school – yes, this is what I envisioned when I was talking to Madiba about this school in 2002,” she said.

Winfrey also expressed her love for former president Nelson Mandela, saying she chose to launch the school in South Africa because when she was visiting years ago she saw herself in the eyes of the women and girls of the country.

After her speech, 16 of the matriculants performed an orchestra piece.

The school’s top student, Sade Stevens – who received the Oprah Winfrey Award and the Dux scholarship – then addressed Winfrey and her peers.

“Mama Oprah, to you we owe our utmost gratitude. Thank you for the beautiful school and for our education. To my sisters ... Depart, be lost and climb,” said Stevens.

Among the famous faces in the hall were singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, local talk show host Dali Tambo and his wife Rachel, former Miss South Africa Thuli Sithole and Bollywood actress Tarina Patel.

After the speeches and awards presentation, the girls enjoyed a photoshoot with Winfrey and principal Anne van Zyl.

Winfrey spent a few minutes mingling with the guests and hugging the girls before her security guards escorted her in a golf cart to her private residence on the premises.

“These shoes are getting uncomfortable,” she mumbled to her publicist as she left.

- City Press

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