Don’t Press Send. Turn the page.

Launch of Evita’s BlackBessie, Wednesday 13 July at The Book Lounge in Cape Town.


Technophobes can now relax. “Wireless, buttonless, screenless”, Evita’s BlackBessie is the “perfect organiser”, a practical reminder that we can all still function effectively offline. It is also testimony to a woman who has deeply affected a nation through the most potent of devices - humour.

The Journal

Born out of slightly paranoid or prophetic intentions, Evita Bezuidenhout’s  BlackBessie is the ideal back-up in the likelihood of your house burning down; or of having only six months to live; or of the imminent cyber network crash or a Blackberry malfunction. The BlackBessie is a notebook, used for organising your life while enjoying Evita’s humour in the photos and sayings that she has included in the BlackBessie. In a recent clip on youtube , Evita invited us to make lists, turn pages, and benefit from her words of wisdom as well as her tips on how your day can be enjoyed. There are many chapters to page through: according to Evita (the alter-ego of comedian Pieter-Dirk Uys), Afrikaans women don’t sell empty books.

Pieter-Dirk Uys and Debbie Hoffman

Inside the journal, Evita has made sure there’s room to scribble down important dates like birthdays and memorials, as well as reminders that you should be taking holidays every ten days. Additionally, she has provided space for you to make lists of who your favourite politicians are, and why. She thoughtfully shares her recipes and her tips for looking gorgeous in any situation — including example photos of correct attire for doing philanthropic work, travelling, being a diva, or engaging in political activism.

Although intended for the technologically challenged, the journal is not just a geriatric-chic accessory. Many in the crowd at the launch were anything but old. Art students clung to corners, and The Book Lounge staff all wore dresses, lending an air of playfulness and floral, carnivalesque festivity to the event. Publisher Random House Struik's Stephen Johnson was more than happy to introduce Pieter-Dirk Uys, someone he regarded as a son (and occasional daughter) of the city. Johnson was delighted to be so closely associated with this remarkable person — his energy, vision and drive. He described Uys as a superb craftsman and verbal genius.

According to Uys, Evita works mainly because she has absolutely no sense of humour or irony — a joke that set off the large crowd. Evita was not at the event, but her book was introduced by a casually dressed Uys, markedly relieved at the chance to “skinner” about her. The night proceeded with political puns and impersonations of both Madiba and Sophia Lauren (who apparently wrote the foreword), filled with pathos and equally amusing.

Evita, a celebrity and activist, has achieved local and international prestige with plays such as Adapt or Dye and Elections and Erections. She has worked extensively in voter education and published well-read books such as Never Too Naked , Evita’s Kossie Sikelela and Between the Devil and the Deep. Indeed, it is  hard to separate Evita from her work, and perhaps that is what makes her so accessible.

For Uys, humour is a weapon of mass destruction and a way of confronting fear. In fact, he suggested that it should be nationalised. In a world where generic memes and “lols” potentially erode interpersonal comic exchange, Evita’s Blackbessie is a practical tool and companion, but also preserves a genuine South African humour in the face of rapidly advancing technology.