PS: Evita Bezuidenhout/ Pieter Dirk-Uys

–  Carl Collison, City Press, 17 November 2007

The indomitable former South African ambassador to the Republic of Bapetikosweti (the fictitious Bantustan) is back on South African television screens with her new show, Dinner with the President. The alter ego of satirist Pieter Dirk-Uys, Tannie Evita served as a thorn in the side of the apartheid regime and now focuses her energies on taking the message of HIV/AIDS education to schoolchildren around the country. Here she manages to take time out of her very demanding schedule to talk about Sonja Heroldt songs, Facebook and becoming president by 2009.

What were you like at school?

I was timid and shy. I was taller than the others. I wasn’t pretty. My teeth stuck out.

What did you want to be when you were little?

I wanted to be married. I had a doll called Eva and she was prettier than me and I knew she would find a rich, Afrikaans husband. I didn’t think I would.

What makes your blood boil?

Arrogance and stupidity – usually combined in a politician.

What makes you cringe?

People who are caught out lying and still carry on lying even though we know it’s a lie – usually politicians.

Who is your inspiration? And why?

My mother who survived every war of the 20th century and brought me up to be who I am. And Nelson Mandela, who could have locked me up or exiled me to Paraguay, but didn’t.

Do you have any secret ambitions?

To be fluent in Xhosa and Zulu by the time I am president in 2009.

What’s your least favourite thing about yourself?

My very Afrikaans disease of wanting to please everyone, even though I know I can’t – or should­n’t want to.

What’s your favourite movie and why?

Gone With The Wind, because it’s very much the story of an Afrikaans girl too.

What are you afraid of?

I am afraid of fear because then it always wins.

What is your favourite colour?

Red; it’s warm and stands out in a crowd.

How do you spend your Sunday afternoons?

With my grandchildren. I used to read to them but now they read to me. I was hoping it would be from a nice book, but now it’s often from Facebook.

What would you put in your personal ad?

Wanted: Peace. Apply South Africa.

Which songs hold special memories for you and tell us what those memories are?

Ek Verlang Na Jou by Sonja Heroldt. We used to play that in the days when we didn’t think we could survive the international loathing of us. It made us hope for better days. I always tell Nelson Mandela I would think of him, but that’s not true. I didn’t even know he was in jail in those days.

What do you know for sure about life?

That once you waste it you can’t get it back.

What is your greatest regret?

That I was too scared and too frightened to put valiums in PW’s orange juice in 1986 and get him to the wilderness where he belonged.

What is your favourite soapie, and why?

7de Laan it makes me laugh and cry because it’s typical of us Afrikaners – brown and white.

How would you define ’success’? And have you achieved it?

Success, as I think Winston Churchill said, is confronting failure with a smile. I always smile.

What is your next project?

For the next 10 weeks I will be on SATV 2 (sic) every Thursday in Dinner with the President. I am at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town, for November with Evita for President.

When did you last have a good laugh, and what made you laugh?

When Manto was late for an appointment in spite of the six watches on her wrist. She always makes me laugh, especially when she is sober.

What is your definition of hell?

A world full of Mantos.

Name one thing you’d never travel without?

My passport and pictures of my grandchildren.

If your house burnt down and you could save three things, what would they be?

My ID documents because it takes a lifetime to replace them, my cellphone so I can phone the fire brigade and my most comfortable shoes so I can run to safety.

Name your favourite books.

The Long Walk To Houghton, Ruiter in die Nag, and Primary Coloured.

If we could make three wishes come true for you, what would they be?

That I make people feel better about themselves, their country and their dreams.

Do you have a spiritual discipline that sustains you, and what is it?

Do unto others as they have never been done unto before.

Dinner With the President is on SABC2 on Thursdays @ 21:30

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from 2007