South Africa


The gifts that keep giving – children of Darling surprise Tannie Evita on her 88th

The gifts that keep giving – children of Darling surprise Tannie Evita on her 88th
Tannie Evita celebrated her 88th birthday at Evita’s Darlings preschool with cupcakes and book prizes for the children. (Photo: Marianne Thamm)

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. 

darling tannie evita

Tannie Evita outside the preschool in Darling. (Photo: Marianne Thamm)

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.

evita restaurant

The interior of the restaurant. (Photo: Marianne Thamm)

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.

evita se peron

Evita se Perron in the West Coast spring sunshine. (Photo: Marianne Thamm)

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.

darling tannie evita

Tannie Evita arrives at Evita’s Darlings preschool for an 88th birthday song and dance. (Photo: Marianne Thamm)

darling tannie evita

Birthday songs for Tannie Evita. (Photo: Marianne Thamm)

Covid begone

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


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ralph Yarrow says:

    Happy birthdays in your brilliant, courageous and inspiring plurality. You have been and remain huge contributors to, and in your far more-than-singular humanity, embodiments of, the need for compassion, challenge, and cake to combat the closing walls of concupiscence and corruption. Dance on, Darling.

  • Barry Taylor says:

    May this wonderful person still have many years to be able to make people happy and enjoy life
    She is an inspiration for many as” tannie Evita”
    When I see pictures like this I so hope that there is still hope for SA even though I doubt it

  • JDW 2023 says:

    @mj, I have been reading your comments on DM articles of late with a mixture of perplexion and concern. You seem to be getting your news from some far-flung dark web website specializing in fringe theories, all but debunked by now. I have been quiet up until now because, of course, freedom of speech is something we are all allowed. But insinuating that Pieter-Dirk Uys is somehow a harm to children is just low and ill-informed. Please do yourself and society a favour and go reflect deeply on how your thought processes might be failing you and the rest us. Best x

  • George Laurens says:

    I just don’t understand how you can see him as a threat to children? Look at what he has done for the community and there have never been any claims of indecency by him.
    Similar to you, I also don’t partake in fringe theories, but there is still no reason to basically accuse him of being any kind of threat to children.
    He is just an artist that does good.

  • Peter Holmes says:

    How on Earth could the much-vaunted DM comments moderation system have allowed this comment to be posted?

  • Sorry for pushing the (wrong?) buttons. 🙂

  • Dorothy Laura Lucas says:

    I have always enjoyed his sense of humor and open hearted generosity

  • ilike homophones says:

    what happened to the question-comment that was posted here? … … … was it removed? … … and why? … …

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

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