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Meeting Oprah Winfrey: A Short Story by Pemphero Mphande

I met Oprah Winfrey weeks ago in a rural area in Chipata, Zambia. I was traveling from Malawi to Lusaka when I stopped by Chipata for sight-seeing. My sight-seeing took me to a village within the depths of rural Chipata. I parked my car far off and was walking with two Chipatans with whom I had made acquaintance. As I was walking past some house, I saw this woman outside a grass thatched house eating mangoes. I looked at her for the first time, then for a second time, unsure and in total disbelief of what I was seeing. For the third time, I fixed my gaze at her and still unsure I said to myself, “this must be Oprah!”

I looked at the two guys with me and they sure hadn’t noticed what I was seeing. I asked one of them who the woman was. He said, “She is the cousin of the chief who has been living in the USA and has just come for a holiday”. I laughed so hard that the woman noticed and then I shouted, “That’s Oprah Winfrey you fools!”

When the woman heard what I had said, she signaled me to shut up and called me over to her. I went there jubilant of my new-found treasure in the heart of Africa. When we began to talk, Oprah explained to me why she was there. She said she was on a sabbatical trying to live like a poor woman in Africa. Still unconvinced, I asked “But why would you take such a sabbatical?”

“Last year I went to Barbados and I saw one of the poorest communities I’d ever seen in my entire life. So an idea came over me. I thought what if I tried to live like a poor woman for 3 months and experience poverty myself…”

The story went that after losing the election to Donald Trump in the 2020 election as the democratic candidate, Oprah had a nervous breakdown. She told me she was losing it and each time she watched Trump on TV, she felt like dying. So the idea of her wanting to live like a poor woman began to materialize. She instructed her team to find a place for her in one of the poorest countries in Africa where she would be unknown. So her team came to Zambia and they came to this part of Chipata and did a research. No one in that community knew or had ever heard of the billionaire Oprah. They paid the chief large sums of money to secure a deal where they could build a house for Oprah and have the chief claim that the person coming was her long lost cousin. It worked. This is why Oprah was found in this part of Africa.

I and Oprah quickly became acquainted. I told her I was from Malawi and that I was on my way to the annual AIDS Conference which was being held in Lusaka for the 2021 session. Oprah showed me around her home which was close to a thick bush that extended all the way to the road. She took me to the river where she had her vegetable garden and showed me the vegetables she had nursed and planted herself. When we got back to her house, we sat on the verandah and it began to rain. Oprah asked me what I did for a living. I told her I was the founder of an HIV and AIDS organization in Malawi. She then asked me what prompted me on this path and so I told Oprah a very sad story that inspired me. She began to cry and told me to stop telling the story. She told me she wanted to be alone for a minute.

After she had had her moment, Oprah came back to me and asked me to take a walk with her into the bush. We walked for about a kilometer before she stopped and opened a big slab which had been covered by grass and wood. She entered the hole through well-built concrete stairs leading up from the slab and invited me in. There was a tunnel inside. We walked in the direction we had come inside the tunnel until we reached a door. When she opened the door and invited me in, I saw beautiful state of the art accommodation facilities. There was a house with two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom and toilet, a dining room and a sitting room. I could not believe what I was seeing. This was so unbelievable.

Oprah told me that this had been built at night by her engineers unknown to the villagers. She said she intended to unveil the house after three months of her poor-woman disguise and make it her regular home for future visits. Oprah also told me about the big charity program she was planning for the people of that village. I stood there in utter disbelief. Above this underground mansion was Oprah’s grass thatched house.

After a lengthy talk, Oprah took a briefcase and said, “There is $1 million here and I want you to have it”. That was the moment I woke up from my dream and realized I was still broke and in Malawi. Some dreams can make you want to commit suicide.


Pemphero Mphande
Pemphero Mphande
My name is Pemphero Mphande. I am 25 years old and Malawian. The best way to describe myself is “I am a story teller”. I see a big story in everything. At the end of the day when I get home, I have tens of stories to tell. Of late I have been writing a lot of creative non-fiction for my fans on Facebook and so I am occasionally tempted to think of myself as a creative non-fiction writer. The truth is I do not really know what genre of writing really suits me. All I know is that I love stories and when I begin to write, I become one with every soul on earth; I forget the world around me and words just pour endlessly. I write anything, everything. By profession I am medical laboratory scientist and currently work as the executive director of Forum for AIDS Counseling and training, an NGO I founded, and also as the public relations officer of Umodzi party, a major political party in Malawi with a desire to contest as a member of parliament in 2019. I was born in Blantyre, Malawi and I currently live in the same city also.


  1. wow, brother, you got talent. I would love to read your book I don’t know if they are still available. First time reading your handwriting apart from the hide my ID thing and I am like what no way.

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