Arts | Politics | Economy | Education & Sciences18 Nov 2017
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He was my bread and botha
Politics, 7 Nov 2006
PW Botha

Now the Ou Krokodil can become a pair of shoes and a matching bag in the Museum of Apartheid! Will this be PW Botha’s obituary or just an old bitchery? Neither.
I am sorry for his family. A death among relatives is never easy and one wishes them well.
That’s the fact: an old man died in the wilderness. But PW Botha is alive and well and wagging his finger and licking his lips in my chorus line.

I was doing him at the launch of the Friends of the Treatment Action Campaign in Cape Town at the moment of his passing. A swish of a crocodile’s tail passed me by, or was it just wind? I will keep doing PW Botha. He is part of the history of our country and, more than ever, it is important to remind us where we come from, so we can truly celebrate where we are going. As Bette Davis said about Joan Crawford: “Just because she’s dead, doesn’t mean she’s changed!”

My relationship with PW Botha was one of cartoonist and cartoon. Botha wrote my material. All the titles and targets of my one-man shows during the 1980s -- Adapt or Dye, Total Onslaught, Beyond the Rubicon -- came from his mouth.
After 26 years of impersonating him, I can truly say: yes, he was my bread and botha . I now even look like him …
But ironically the echoes of his rantings are still with us. Today, 20 years later, a GW Bush is repeating what PW Botha said first: “He who is not for us is against us.” Botha used the word “terrorist” in a modern context and frightened us all into silence.

Looking back on his life in politics is the task of those who need to analyse how for so long he wielded the total power we gave him with such bloody success. I always needed some hint of compassion when I did him.
Assassination is easy. Forty-nine percent anger and 51% entertainment is hard. Maybe the feeling that there but for the grace of God go I forced me to try and understand why things went so wrong. So ultra-right. Maybe realising that Botha’s brand of fanatical devotion was the most dangerous. He was not corrupted by wealth. He was not a bullshitter like so many others. He was committed to his patriotic passion and demented dream.

We whites were all plugged into that dream, and when we eventually found humour as a weapon of mass distraction it helped us laugh at our fear and make that fear less fearful.
I think this is a celebration. Not of the death of an old irrelevant dinosaur from a bygone barbarian age, but of the fact that in spite of all he was responsible for, PW Botha died peacefully in his home. Not in jail. Not in exile. That says so much about our present young democracy.

Irony will have the last laugh. Where PW Botha is now, he will have many, many, many feet to wash.
Pieter-Dirk Uys

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Sites for this article:
Mail & Gaurdian, Pieter-Dirk Uys

Mail & Gaurdian, COSATU

Pieter-Dirk Uys & Evita se Perron

Wikipedia: PW Botha

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