“One of the great honors of my life was to be invited to Nelson Mandela’s home, spend private time and get to know him,” she said. “He was everything you’ve ever heard and more – humble and unscathed by bitterness. And he always loved to tell a good joke. Being in his presence was like sitting with grace and majesty at the same time.”
She continued, “He will always be my hero. His life was a gift to us all.”
Winfrey and her longtime partner, businessman Stedman Graham, were invited to stay at Mandela’s home on South Africa’s Western Cape in 2000 for 10 days.
The 59-year-old Oprah Winfrey Network founder and CEO told Forbes that she credits her discussions with Mandela about the country’s poverty and education for inspiring her to create Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy For Girls in Henley on Klip, south of Johannesburg.
The all-female boarding school was founded in January 2007 with the goal of providing educational and leadership opportunities to academically gifted girls from impoverished backgrounds.