Is'thunzi Sabafazi: Oprah Shares a Message of Hope

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Oprah Gives a hopeful, rallying call in Is’thunzi Sabafazi keynote address


By Nomali Cele

For half an hour, humanitarian and media personality, Oprah Winfrey spoke to a rapt audience in the Imbizo auditorium at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus. Winfrey, who is currently in the country for the star-studded Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, which will take place at FNB Stadium on Sunday, was the keynote speaker for the Is’thunzi Sabafazi dialogue. Is’thunzi Sabafazi was convened by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Graça Machel Trust and Kuhluka Movement.
Rising to the podium, Winfrey shared how Machel had gotten in touch to ask that she be part of this conversation, which has been one of the centrepieces of celebration Nelson Mandela’s centenary. Machel stated that she believes the #Mandela100 celebrations would have been incomplete without Winfrey participating.
Magnetic as ever, Winfrey also shared personal anecdotes of her relationship with Madiba. In 2002, while her home was being renovated, she decided to spend the festive season giving back to children across South Africa, defiantly saying to naysayers that it may be “unsustainable” but the memories would be. She spent the bulk of her festive season that year at Madiba’s Qunu home.
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Image courtesy of UN Women on Twitter
The subtitle of the Is’thunzi Sabafazi dialogue was all about examining women’s place in the world and how they’re stripped of dignity. Winfrey was not shy about speaking ng about the societal imbalances that tip the scales against women. The panel included UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo, Machel herself, Josina Z. Machel and journalist and activist Redi Tlhabi. With opening remarks from Njabulo Ndebele who also didn’t mince his words about the necessity of unlearning patriarchal ideas and dismantling the system as well.
Like the late Nelson Mandela, Winfrey is cognisant of just how unequal the world is. But her answer is that we rise up for small and personal revolutions; creating change exactly where we are. “When you learn, you teach. When you get, you give.” The idea of horizontal empowerment means that no one gets left behind as we progress. She also implored young people to constantly ask themselves how they can be of service to something bigger than themselves.
Winfrey also emphasised the importance of knowing your history and the stories that make up your story. Quoting her mentor, the late writer Maya Angelou, Winfrey said: “I come as one but stand as ten thousand.” This is a quote that carries and emboldens her as she attempts firsts as a black woman.
In closing her address, Winfrey quoted Madiba: “I never lose. I either win or learn.”
Featured image courtesy of the Nelson Mandela Foundation

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