Oprah fever grips Bloem

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bloemfontein - What could possibly motivate varsity students to get up at 4am on a bitterly cold Friday morning? The thought of lectures or exams could force one back under the covers, but when one of the brightest stars of entertainment shines on your doorstep, you simply have no choice but to wake up.

So huge is the hype of Oprah Winfrey's anticipated arrival in Bloemfontein, that hundreds of students hardly slept last night. One very excited University of the Free State student, who did not give his name, called in to the biggest commercial radio station in the land, Metro FM, at 5.30am to wake up his fellow students.

"I'd like to say to all the students at UFS - WAKE UP! Oprah is coming!" enthused the young man. The prospect of meeting Oprah is what left him sleepless on Thursday night.

Asked what he would say to the queen of talk should he get a chance of a one-on-one, he replied, "Oprah will be gone tomorrow, so I think the best thing to ask for would be a lasting legacy. How can we collaborate?"

The student explained that instead of freebies from Miss Winfrey, he would rather find more meaningful ways of working with her. He then quipped: "I wonder what's under my seat?" - a line that no doubt goes through most audience members' minds as Winfrey is famous for putting giveaways under the audiences' seats on her show.

But a one-on-one with Oprah is highly unlikely, unless you are Vice Chancellor Jonathan Jansen. He had this to say about the conferring of an honorary doctorate in education to Winfrey: "It is a great privilege for the UFS to be the first South African university to honour Ms Winfrey in this way and to be able to recognise a global icon of her stature."

Winfrey is expected to touch down in Bloemfontein at midday amid tight security. Lamp posts leading to the university are adorned with yellow "Welcome Oprah" signs, and depending on the whims of Mother Nature, there should be a great number of people turning up to see Oprah.

Reports of illegal ticket sales to the event, where Winfrey will address students after getting her honorary doctorate, have made local radio headlines. Officials area pleading to the public not to buy these tickets, where they are allegedly being sold by unscrupulous persons at shopping centres.

Even though she is set to leave after the event, there is no doubt that Winfrey's presence will be remembered long after she is gone from the city of roses.

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