The gifts that keep giving – children of Darling surprise Tannie Evita on her 88th
On 28 September Pieter-Dirk Uys turned 78 while Tannie Evita celebrated her 88th surrounded by Grade R learners at the Evita’s Darlings preschool.
The two-classroom building with a playground of verdant artificial grass opened its doors as an Early Learning Development Centre in 2010. It started with 10 children and since then hundreds more have passed through the hands of dedicated teachers and carers.
And, much like Table Mountain and the sea, Tannie Evita has been a permanent fixture.
You can’t miss the school at the entrance to Darling’s working-class residential area, New Town, on land made available by the Swartland Municipality.
Behind the school is a swimming pool which opened in 2009 and is known as the Darling Community Pool and Education Centre.
The colourful building and pool are on the “other side” of the railway tracks but close enough to Evita se Perron, the thriving Taffy-pink theatre and restaurant Uys established when he moved to Darling in 1996 and transformed the town.
On Thursday, about 60 preschoolers formed a line of honour for Tannie Evita, founder and patron of The Darling Trust, to wish her a happy 88th birthday.
Songs were sung, poems were shyly but proudly recited, Tannie Evita told a story and then it was time for cupcakes and book prizes.
Uys’ international and local fans continue to visit the cultural hub he created, and the economy around Evita’s legacy and Uys himself has for years had a positive effect on the lives of many residents and the village itself.
Covid was devastating for business, and in 2020, Uys, after 25 years, was persuaded to sell the landmark to Hentie van der Merwe and Frits van Ryneveld, who are aware of what the venue represents and the historical memory it holds.
The duo are also the creators and owners of Darling Sweet, a successful toffee and caramel company founded in Darling in 2014 and which now exports internationally. The Swartland Kitchen turns out delicious rusks and biscuits which sell way outside the dorpie, and even in Mr Price Home.
Uys still performs at the theatre, as does Tannie Evita.
Read more in Daily Maverick: All change on Platform Evita
Uys has never worked a day for anyone but himself, and the Perron not only served as a platform for his alter ego, Tannie Evita, but also an entourage of characters that are threaded through time.
Evita and Uys remain the pulse and heart of this charming village.
“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine,” echoed in the playground as Tannie Evita took her leave.
Happy birthday, national treasures, Tannie Evita and Pieter-Dirk. DM