Evita Bezuidenhout - Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
Welcome to the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive Project. Our aim is to locate, document, digitise, and provide access to all archival materials related to Nelson Mandela. This is a work in progress. Here is a selection of materials arranged in exhibits for your enjoyment.
Title: Evita Bezuidenhout
Nelson Mandela was to address the masses at a final ANC rally in Retreat, Cape Town before the 1994 Election. in. Then a phone call to me, asking if I would bring Evita Bezuidenhout to entertain the people. My first chance to meet Madiba! Allan Boesak introduced Evita with his usual high-pitched flair. Thunderous applause, not louder than the banging of my heart. Was this also my audition for the New South Africa?
Evita surged onto the stage. The fact that she was wearing her traditional Voortrekker dress in the old orange, white and blue made it even more surreal. ‘They said Mr Mandela would be here and I brought him some koeksisters!’ Roars of approval. The kids just stared. When Evita was finished, I was anxious to go into the caravan and put Tannie back in the box. ‘No,’ said Alan. ‘You must stay here. Nelson Mandela wants to meet you.’ You? Me? Evita? Who? So I sat. In the front row. Acting a Nancy Reagan waiting for her Ronnie. I heard a piercing hiss. ‘Pssst! Madam!’ In the front row a cluster of township youths, balaclavas and rosettes waved, smiling. Then they threw sweets at Evita. Two little boys came up from the back of the stage. Trevor Manuel’s kids.
‘Are you a man or a woman?’ one asked seriously. Evita smiled sweetly, ‘Ask your father.’ Then a noise like an approaching tsunami. Louder and louder from far down the field, closer and closer. He had arrived with that smile, dazzling, patient, hugging, holding, laughing, forgiving. Remembering. Then he looked up and saw me. No, he saw her.
Nelson Mandela opened his arms and came towards Mrs Bezuidenhout with a delighted laugh. ‘Evita! Evita! You look so beautiful!’
Quote: "Evita! Evita! You look so beautiful!"
Collection: Moments with a Legend