Oprah Winfrey recalls the time she spent 10 days, 10 nights and 29 meals with Nelson Mandela

2018-11-29 17:55
Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah Winfrey. (Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

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"Nelson Mandela said I must stay at his home. I said, 'Like, in the house? Like, the same place you sleep?' He said, 'Yes, you will stay in Qunu'," said media mogul Oprah Winfrey in Johannesburg on Thursday.

"I kept asking who stays in someone's house for 10 days and 10 nights? I don't have 10 days' worth of conversation. My life partner Stedman (Graham) then said, 'It's Nelson Mandela, you don't have to speak, you just listen.'"

Oprah Winfrey recalled this humorous tale in the Imbizo Hall at the University of Johannesburg where the Nelson Mandela Foundation hosted a dialogue in celebration of women and #16DaysofActivism titled Is'thunzi Sabafazi (Dignity of women).

Winfrey was joined by a panel including activist Josina Machel, humanitarian Graça Machel and executive director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

The 64-year-old media mogul who marks her 36th visit to South Africa says the vision for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg came to life during the 10-day visit.

"I was nervous at first going to Qunu but after six meals I became comfortable with Madiba, so comfortable that we could sit in silence," Winfrey said.

It was during this visit that Winfrey learnt that Mandela was most concerned about poverty and the devastating effects it has on people's lives, breeding violence and resulting in inadequate healthcare and a lack of education.

'Who else can I serve?'

"He was concerned about the generation of young people who are not being empowered with the quality education they deserve," she said.

The media mogul shared with Mandela her dream to build a school for girls in South Africa as it was her belief that women are going to save South Africa. Madiba then called Kader Asmal, education minister at the time, and told him "Oprah wants to build a school".

"I built a school for girls who look like me, came from a background like me but had the will to succeed. I wanted to give those girls a chance," Winfrey said.

The school currently has 191 girls in college.

"When I met Madiba it was like coming home, I decided that I was going to do something for South Africa."

Winfrey shared her hope that South Africans would remain responsible to one another and find ways of serving the country.

"The dream of this academy had birthed in me for a year after asking the question: 'Who else can I serve?'

"By doing that you align with Madiba's vision because he knew that if one of us bleeds, we all bleed," she said.


Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  oprah winfrey
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