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Oprah Keeping The Promise Made To Mandela

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Black Women in Politics

Oprah Keeping The Promise Made To Mandela

Through her South Africa-based Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, in its 10th year, the media mogul and self-made billionaire is developing leaders positioned to play a key role in Africa. In this exclusive interview with FORBES WOMAN AFRICA, Oprah Winfrey talks about where it all started – in Mandela’s home where she spent 10 days and shared 29 meals with the statesman and pledged to build a school for girls and invest in the people of South Africa.

DNA linked Oprah Winfrey’s maternal ancestry to Liberia, Cameroon and Zambia. While any one of those African countries could be her native homeland — her heart belongs to South Africa.

Winfrey’s love affair with the country began during her first trip in 1995 – a year after the first democratically-elected government came to power with Nelson Mandela as president of the ‘Rainbow Nation’.

“It was a gift from Stedman [Graham],” she shares for the first time in an exclusive interview with FORBES WOMAN AFRICA. Graham is an American businessman and educator known to be very close to Winfrey.

His activism with Nelson Mandela and the late president’s former wife Winnie is what first interested her in the country.

“After Nelson Mandela was out of prison and became president, Stedman wanted to show me the country. While doing the touristy thing, I became enamored with the women, particularly in the rural areas. They would be the ones in the fields working and carrying the water and baskets of wood on their heads. ‘Wow’, I said to him. There seemed to be a culture of women who felt like they were under the power of patriarchy.”

Those images along with the overwhelming poverty she witnessed in the rural areas – especially among the children – stuck with her.

“I could relate,” she shares.

“I grew up poor. When I was 12 years old living on welfare with my mother on North Ninth Street in Milwaukee, she told me, ‘There’ll be no Christmas this year. No Christmas presents. No Santa Claus. We barely have enough to eat’. I was okay with the whole Santa Claus thing but otherwise shocked and embarrassed.”

“What am I going to say when I go back to school? How am I going to be able to tell people I had no Christmas when everybody’s showing their stuff? What’s going to be my story?” she thought.

When the 12-year-old was to be in bed that night, there was a knock on her door. She peered through the keyhole and saw three nuns with baskets of food: canned yams, potatoes, turkey, toys, and other gifts.

“I remember being relieved!” Winfrey recalls. “It became my best Christmas ever.”

That is until decades late r – the year 2000, to be exact.

Winfrey prepared to move into her sprawling new Santa Barbara, California home, then learned it wouldn’t be completed in time for Christmas. She’d have to make alternate plans.

“Whatever happened to those nuns?” she wondered. “How could I be a nun to someone else – to kids who absolutely have no expectation; who have resolved within themselves there is not going to be a Christmas; not enough food; no money or gifts. How can I do that?”

South Africa immediately sprung into her mind.

Back to Africa

Winfrey took 50 of her employees from the United States (US) and hired another 50 in South Africa to join her on a mission she dubbed, Christmas Kindness.

“I went on the search for the prettiest black dolls I could find. I bought hundreds of thousands of them, plus soccer balls, books, school supplies and toys.”

She traveled from village to village – in the impoverished rural areas – where as many as …

Please read original article- Oprah Keeping The Promise Made To Mandela

Chrysalis

I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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