US television celebrity Oprah Winfrey on Thursday paid emotional tribute to Nelson Mandela as she prepared to host a star-studded concert in Johannesburg to cap celebrations marking 100 years since his birth.
Winfrey, who recently lost her mother Vernita Lee, will co-host the Global Citizen festival on Sunday, where artists including Beyonce, Jay-Z, Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams, Chris Martin and home boy, Cassper Nyovest will perform.
The concert is the climax of a year of events celebrating the centennial of Mandela’s birth in 1918, and is part of a campaign to tackle poverty, child malnutrition and boost gender equality.
Winfrey hailed Mandela’s “goodness and integrity”, describing him as her “favourite mentor” as she spoke at a public debate at the Soweto campus of the University of Johannesburg.
“He was a man who could have sought revenge, but he was a man who sought reconciliation,” she said, adding he “knew that when one of us is wounded all of us are bleeding.”
Mandela was jailed under South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime. In the wake of his release in 1990, he led the country’s transformation into a multi-racial democracy.
Former US president Barack Obama spoke in Johannesburg in July, delivering the flagship address of the “Mandela 100” celebrations.
Concert tickets were allocated to people who have taken part in the Global Citizen campaign.