Miscellaneous Items

from 2005

'Thanks, but no thanks'

– Karen Breytenbach, Pretoria News, 5 April 2005

Satirist and playwright Pieter-Dirk Uys has refused an honorary medal for drama bestowed on him by the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (South African Academy for Science and Art).

"I'd rather say thanks but no thanks," the artist, also known as Evita Bezuidenhout, said on Monday.

On Friday the academy announced the award "for a career of over 30 years during which he wrote an impressive list of plays in Afrikaans, or in English and Afrikaans. In critical times during the 70s and 80s he wrote plays to encourage the development of Afrikaans and Afrikaans culture".

"We proposed the award with the greatest of goodwill, but it is Uys's prerogative if he wants to accept it or not," the academy's chief executive Lawrie McFarlane said.

In a letter to the academy outlining why he did not wish to accept the award, Uys attacked the academy for being a "key to apartheid culture".

He wrote: "When I started writing plays in Afrikaans and English during the early 70s — sometimes mixing languages and being censored too — the government policy of South Africa was separate development. For 20 years the academy was responsible for the exclusion of the majority of Afrikaans and South African talent."

But Uys congratulated the academy for embracing democracy since 1994. "I thank the council. However, after decades of struggle against everything the academy once stood for, I cannot now accept this award," he said.

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