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Oprah gets honorary degree from S.African university

Oprah Winfrey received an honorary degree Friday from a South African university that has been called a model of reconciliation for its response to a racist student video that shocked the nation.

The US talk show queen was awarded an honorary doctorate in education from the University of the Free State, where four white students caused national fury in 2007 by making a video that showed five black workers on their hands and knees eating food that appeared to have been urinated on.

The university’s new rector, Jonathan Jansen, has been at pains to overcome the deep divisions on campus since the incident, and Winfrey congratulated the institution for its efforts at reconciliation.

“What has happened here at Free State in terms of racial reconciliation, of peace, of harmony, of one heart understanding and opening itself to another heart, is nothing short of a miracle,” she said in an address to graduates.

“It is truly what the new South Africa is all about.”

The students, dubbed the “Reitz Four” after the now-shuttered residence hall where they lived, have since apologised and were forgiven by the women in the video.

Winfrey invited the five workers to share the stage with her Friday, praising them for their spirit of forgiveness.

The media mogul, who bade farewell to her trailblazing television programme last month after 25 years, was visibly emotional at several points during the ceremony.