Oprah Winfrey has today opened a new school in South Africa for disadvantaged girls.

The US chat show Queen made the promise to build the centre six years ago while visiting the country's former president Nelson Mandela.

More than 150 girls from families on a limited income will attend the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in the town of Henley-on-Klip south of Johannesburg.

Eventually it will be able to cater for a total of 450 girls.

Ms Winfrey, who herself came from a poor background, has spent $40 million (£20 million) of her own money in funding the centre.

Explaining her reasons for building the school, she told a news conference today: "I wanted to give this opportunity to girls who had a light so bright that not even poverty could dim that light."

And in an interview with America's Newsweek magazine she said: "When I first started making a lot of money, I really became frustrated with the fact that all I did was write cheque after cheque to this or that charity without really feeling like it was a part of me. At a certain point, you want to feel that connection."

Paying tribute to Ms Winfrey in a statement, Mr Mandela said: "This is a lady that has, despite her own disadvantaged background, become one of the benefactors of the disadvantaged throughout the world."

Attending the opening ceremony were the singers Mariah Carey and Tina Turner.

02/01/2007 14:18:22