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Talk queen to visit Free State

By trp, on 1/8/11

American television host, actress, producer and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey will visit the University of the Free State’s Bloemfontein campus later this month.

UFS spokesperson Lacea Loader confirmed that the richest African-American of the 21st century will be visiting the Bloemfontein campus.

She, however, declined to give more details about the visit.

While other media reports claim that Winfrey is coming to receive an honorary doctorate in education from the university, Loader said, “Yes, I can confirm that Oprah will visit our campus on June 24. More details about the planned visit will be made available shortly, perhaps over the weekend.”

Winfrey is regarded as one of the greatest philanthropists in American history and was for a time the world’s only black billionaire.

In 1998, Winfrey’s show had an estimated 14 million daily viewers, dropping to approximately 9 million in 2005 and to around 7.3 million viewers in 2008, though it remained the highest rated talk show.

In 2008, Winfrey’s show was airing in 140 countries internationally and seen by an estimated 46 million people in the US weekly.

In 2004, Winfrey and her team filmed an episode of her show, Oprah’s Christmas Kindness, in which Winfrey travelled to South Africa to bring attention to the plight of young children affected by poverty and Aids. During the 21-day trip, Winfrey and her crew visited schools and orphanages in poverty-stricken areas and distributed Christmas presents to 50000 children, with dolls for the girls and soccer balls for the boys, and school supplies and shoes.

Throughout the show, Winfrey appealed to viewers to donate money to Oprah’s Angel Network for poor and Aids-affected children in Africa.

From that show alone, viewers around the world donated over $7m (R47m). Winfrey invested $40m and some of her time establishing the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in the south of Johannesburg.

The school, set over 22 acres, opened in January 2007 with an enrolment of 150 pupils (increasing to 450) and features state-of-the-art classrooms, computer and science laboratories, a library, theatre and beauty salon.

Nelson Mandela praised Winfrey for overcoming her own disadvantaged youth to become a benefactor for others.

However, a minority of critics considered the school elitist and unnecessarily luxurious. – BuaNews

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