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Putting the spotlight on the iconic Pieter-Dirk Uys

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Satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys, who has been using comedy and caricature to oppose the Apartheid government for the last 30 years, is the 11th icon of the second season.

In the portrait, Uys mischievously photobombs a bust of Apartheid architect and former prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd.

It celebrates Uys’ ability to infuse himself in the joke and his role as an audacious political satirist.

In an intimate conversation with Adrian Steirn, Uys reveals that his alter ego Evita Bezuidenhout first started as a character in a newspaper column.

“Between 1978 and 1980 I had a weekly column in a Sunday newspaper, and I needed it because the Apartheid government banned all my plays.”

The plays had been banned, he says, because they portrayed South Africans living in a situation which was reputed to be normal and Christian and civilised – but was not.

His characters reflected the confusions and hypocrisies of this society, earning him the outrage of the Apartheid government who lashed out him for blasphemy, obscenity and setting racial groups against each other – “which was great, coming from the architects of Apartheid.”

Having performed over 20 plays and 30 revues and one-man shows both in South Africa and around the world, Uys is committed to helping his audiences share his courage.

Although the era of Apartheid may be over, he still finds plenty of subjects – from the comic to the controversial – to tackle, including South Africa’s new political regime and HIV.

“In the 20th year of democracy, I’m still trying to reflect the ‘mock’ in democracy and the ‘con’ in reconciliation with humour,” he says.

For more information, visit www.21Icons.com.

- By 21 Icons. Edited by Carla Bernardo, Lead SA

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