Media mogul, talk show host and producer Oprah Winfrey charged South Africans to live purposeful lives at O, The Oprah Magazine's first O You! conference in Africa, which took place on Monday.
Over 5 000 people – mostly women, there might have been about 10 men present – attended the conference at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Among the crowd's A-listers were first lady Thobeka Zuma, Agang SA's Mamphela Ramphele and media personality and businessperson Basetsana Kumalo.
Of the countless life lessons that Winfrey shared at the conference, purpose, gratitude and spirituality took centre stage.
"We're all looking for the fullest and highest expression of ourselves. The question is, how can you be used for something greater than yourself," said Winfrey. She highlighted how people spent a lifetime looking for one big sign that would indicate what their purpose is. But "it's not one thing, it's a series of things", she said.
Winfrey firmly believes that all the experiences that people encounter are there to teach them something. "When you don't know what to do, get still and the answer will come, and through the roughest of storms, just say thank you." she said.
In her closing remarks, Winfrey quoted biblical scriptures that she said she lived by. "For in him we live and breathe and have our being," she said, citing Acts 17 verse 28. "I make no major decisions without seeking God first … live your passion."
Later on in the day, Samantha Page, O magazine South Africa editor, announced that the Oprah Winfrey Network will be launched in the country this month on DStv's TLC channel.
Sisters Lesedi and Thabi Kgaka said: "We're so excited for it … Obviously we've known about her branching out with OWN but instead of having to stream the videos off YouTube, we can now watch them legally."
O You! aimed to empower women through inspirational and encouraging messages. Its goal was also to help women become more of who they are. The speakers at the seminar carried this message through anecdotes about the lessons they learned in their personal and professional lives.
Other guest speakers included New York Times bestselling author Julie Morgenstern, who is also a productivity consultant and master organiser, Ariane de Bonvoisin, a change expert, as well as South African author and radio personality Redi Tlhabi, who attended the conference despite having given birth to her daughter six days ago.
Tlhabi spoke about the importance of loving yourself and of being excellent for yourself before you are excellent for other people. "If you think poorly of yourself, how you can expect anyone else to treat you differently?" she asked.
After the guest speakers, thousands of readers flocked to interactive stands and shops set up by O contributors. If the readers did not find what they were looking for at the stands, they could probably find it in their pink O goodie bags that were filled with gifts from hair shampoo to tea.
Despite the pricey ticket cost (R995), the conference drew a mixed crown. O magazine reader Joanne Vonzeuner said: "I am so excited about being here, I just can't explain it in words. Oprah is such an icon."