Thursday, May 3, 2012
O, The Oprah Magazine in South Africa turns 10; celebrates its 10th anniversary with a sparkling luncheon.
O, The Oprah Magazine in South Africa just turned 10 and celebrated its 10th anniversary with a luxurious luncheon event Wednesday afternoon at Cape Town's 5 star Table Bay hotel for 50 lucky readers.
South Africa is the only country besides America with its own custom-published version of Oprah Winfrey's lifestyle magazine.
A few weeks ago I asked to attend when I got wind that the O herself might make a surprise appearance. Oficially I was told she will not attend, but to not spoil a possible surprise, I knew that it was what would be said even if she was to appear.
Meanwhile sources told me (and again said so yesterday) that Oprah is actually in South Africa (her school reopens today) but just can't be at the event celebrating the first decade of her O Magazine. Since I have been to 4 events where Oprah Winfrey appeared in South Africa in the past, as a journalist I'm always ready to show up, wait, and see.
Although Oprah didn't show, several people did. While All Access Mzansi covered the event for television with Bridget Masinga and journalists like me snooped for gossip, I spotted several of the pupils from The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLA) who were specially flow in from Johannesburg for the event. (They've never flown before).
I also spotted the brilliant Anne van Zyl, head master of the school. Also in attendance was the lovely Samantha Page, editor of O Magazine SA who joined the magazine in July 2002 and rose through the ranks to become editor.
I also arrived and ran into the grande dame of magazine publishing in South Africa, the magnificent Jane Raphaely, chairperson of Associated Magazines and editor-in-chief of O Magazine SA in front of the Table Bay Hotel and briefly said hello.
Jane Raphaely later shared for the first time to a public audience exactly how Associated Magazines managed to get Oprah Winfrey to agree to a special bespoke version of her O Magazine for South Africa a decade ago.
While guests sipped champagne and the women were treated to all kinds of mani pedi padi make-up sessions and massages, as well as a spectacular 10th anniversary pink birthday cake by the The Table Bay Hotel's chef Anita van Tonder, everyone went home with heavy goody bags besides additional prizes of thousands of rands.
Besides the 3 course meal, a poet and musical acts, all the guests got Carol Boyes and Miglio jewellery, handbags, beauty products and really lots of stuff. I think all the readers can feel really special; I get to go to a lot of things every week and comparatively speaking this was really a great event if you're a reader of this magazine. Everything was very well done.
"Oprah reinvented the magazine industry at a time when people started to look away from magazines," said Jane Raphaely, editor-in-chief of O, The Oprah Magazine SA and chairperson of Associated Magazines.
"It's been an amazing journey for me," said Samantha Page, editor of O, The Oprah Magazine SA. "I've been with the magazine since the start and its been such an amazing journey. It was Jane Raphaely who twisted Oprah's arm and told her that O, The Oprah Magazine and South Africa with its own version would be a perfect fit, and indeed it was."
I also talked to Anne van Zyl, head master at Oprah's school for girls, and asked her what Oprah means for her, the school, and what she thinks of the magazine.
"It's because of Oprah's dream that her school for girls now exist and its because of her dream that the magazine exists. She's a remarkable, far-sighted, inspirational woman and an example to all of us. That O, The Oprah Magazine is 10 years old is a terrific achievement and from how readers everywhere have embraced it, its clearly going from strength to strength," Anne van Zyl said to me.
Some of the girls who just matriculated from The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls and is now moving on to tertiary study which Oprah Winfrey is also paying for, also attended. I also interviewed some of them.
"Thanks to Oprah I'm getting the chance in life to see how far I can stretch myself," Marwiya James told me. She just started studying for a B.Com degree in financial accounting at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
"Oprah is a generous, kind, but also a strict person. You can see that she lives for other people when you look at the things she does. Outside of the Oprah Winfrey that people see on TV, she has become a mother to us. She's an amazing woman and I'm very grateful for everything she's done for me."
Shogane Chocho is another top matriculant from Oprah's school, who decided to stay in South Africa and study here. She is also studying towards a B.Com degree in financial accounting, also at the University of Cape Town (UCT). I also asked her about Oprah.
"She's very honest. She wants is to be our best, but she also tells us that wo we are is already enough. We don't need to conform to what the world says we should be. I'm very grateful for everything she's given me. I won't be who I am today if it wasn't for her. She's given me a chance."
"Oprah doesn't look at where people come from. She looks at where people can go to."
on 11:16:00 PM