Only Pieter-Dirk Uys could get away with such a title as Dekaffirnated. But that’s
the measure of this extraordinary performer. An ability to tackle a subject head-on
— particularly a sensitive and volatile one (in this case, a word) — anlayse it,
find faults in it, find good points in it, generally finely dissect it like a surgeon
and eventually defuse it through logic and humour
Dekaffirnated is running at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until May 9. It opens with
a new definition of the word `praise singer’. Out comes balding Pieter-Dirk Uys who
dons a frantic black curly wig, a crown of dead leguaans and feathers, art deco sunglasses
and a fabric throw to launch into the history of South Africa from the time when
the `People of the South’ first set eyes on Jan van Riebeeck.
Interspersed with the various scenes of this highly-controlled and very funny history
of South Africa, are reminiscences from Pieter-Dirk Uys’s recent Evita’s Ballot Bus,
a voter education project which travelled around the country accompanied by television
crews from SABC3 and at least three other major international networks.
“I travelled 10 000km to over 60 venues in a dress for free!” says Pieter-Dirk Uys,
whose mood changes instantly when he remembers the thousands of children they encountered
on route whose charm and instinct for survival made a major impression on them. Choosing
town halls or civic centres for the accessibility, they traversed the country, instructing
communities on the finer points of the election system and urging them to vote in
the forthcoming elections. Lainsburg left a particularly lasting impression — a devastated
landscape, no employment, no hope.
Who funded Evita’s Ballot Bus? Not government, not the IEC, not the department of
arts, culture science and technology … simply a five-strong touring team committed
to the future of South Africa, doing what they could through the medium they knew
Tempest provided the `ballot bus’ in the shape of a combi (“five people in front
and Mrs Bezuidenhout in the boot) and, as Pieter-Dirk Uys says — the extraordinary
hospitality and kindness we encountered everywhere” meant that a multi-million rand
project was achieved on an extremely modest budget.
After interval, we meet the inimitable Mrs Evita Bezuidenhout in full cry, discussing
the posters of the various parties and analysing their particular emblems such as
a dead mouse (the Minority front — Rajbansi’s wig), three elephants running away
(IFP) and a map of Africa, with the sun shining in …. Ghana ?? (PAC). Still “holding
onto the old South Africa are the ANC, with an ox waqon wheel and a white hand holding
a spear … and the ANC colours are the Springbok colours!”
Pieter-Dirk Uys readily admits that he has a most difficult time coming up — to find
a way of impersonating the enigmatic Thabo Mbeki. And he’s going to give the new
government a year’s head-start before his beady eye begins to search for future material!
Evita’s Ballot Bus screened on SABC3 every Wednesday at 18h15.