The most famous white woman in South Africa! Evita Bezuidenhout, still regarded as the most famous white woman in South Africa, was born Evangelie Poggenpoel of humble Boer origins in the dusty Orange Free State town of Bethlehem on 28th September 1935.
Illegitimate, imaginative, pretty and ambitious, she dreamt of Hollywood fame and fortune, tasting stardom in such 50s Afrikaner film classics as Boggel en die Akkedis (Hunchback and the Lizard), Meisie van my Drome (Girl of my Dreams) and Duiwelsvallei (Devil’s Valley). She married into the political Bezuidenhout Dynasty and became the demure wife of NP Member of Parliament Dr JJ De V Bezuidenhout and the proud mother of de Kock, Izan and Billie-Jeanne.
Mrs Bezuidenhout’s ten years as the South African ambassador to the independent black homeland Republic of Bapetikosweti left an indelible mark on the blueprint of change, and today her recipe for bobotie is internationally regarded as the basis for reconciliation. ‘Sit down, eat and talk’ has been her slogan and many troublespots in the world owe their future to her kitchen skills. As the former barefoot meisie from Bethlehem majestically sailed into the stormy seas of her marriage and maturity, dazzling friend and foe alike with her Calvinist authority and dreaded lack of irony, like any other educated, brainwashed white South African, she constantly passed by the terrible aftermath of the apartheid system she helped to spawn, and having seen, looked away at her smiling reflection in the family silver.
Power became her addiction. She wielded it in the boardroom, the kitchen and round the dinner table, becoming confidante to the flawed gods on the Boer Olympus and so shaping the course of history with her close and often unbeliveable relationships with the grim-faced leaders of the day: Dr HF Verwoerd, BJ Vorster, PW Botha and FW de Klerk. Hand in hand with the glamourous Evita of Pretoria was the Tallyrand of Africa, Pik Botha, her ageing Romeo and constant friend, while watching her from afar as she watched him was Nelson R Mandela, alive today thanks to her timely interventions.
Evita Bezuidenhout today divides her time between the Bezuidenhout family home in Laagerfontein, where her husband Oom Hasie lives, and the West Coast village of Darling, where her mother Ouma Ossewania Kakebenia Poggenpoel resides. Now in her 80s, this glamorous eternal flame of boere chutzpah holds court at the former Darling Station, now famous as Evita se Perron, where she entertains and dazzles awestruck visitors while also bravely following in the slipstream of Jacob Zuma’s presidential jet(s) to make sure that kos is on his tafel. As one of the few Afrikaner icons who did not lose their heads on the tumbrils of democracy, Gogo Evita is grandmother to her three ABarack Obama beige@ treasures: Winnie-Jeanne, Nelson-Ignatius and La Toya-Ossewania. She has embraced the new democracy with an alarming passion, underlining her commitment to a nonracial future by her support that cuts across racial lines.
In 2001, the Woman’s International Centre in San Diego (California) presented Evita Bezuidenhout with the Living Legacy 2000 Award for “her contribution to the place of women in the last century” and the laughter and positive energy that her presence evokes. Past honourees include such other legends as Hillary Roddam Clinton, Bette Davis, Mother Theresa, Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher.
On 1 April 2012, Mrs Bezuidenhout joined the African National Congress in an attempt to help them on their long and rocky road to a corruption-free future. Her own political team, also known as Evita´s People´s Party, remains in waiting to deliver voter education for the next election. Evita’s optimism is simple: ‘You don’t need a crystal ball to see where we are going. The future of South Africa is certain; it is just the past that is unpredictable.’ Her weekly comment on the news of the day can now be seen on the Evita se Perron channel on You Tube. Evita’s Free Speech is refreshed with a new episode every Sunday and has added Evita’s voice to the breaking news for over a year.
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