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AfrikaBurn

AfrikaBurn – Uplifting Freedom in the South African Desert

AfrikaBurn is one of Africa’s most unique festivals of the last decade. Held at the Tankwa Karoo Desert in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, AfrikaBurn is a mind-blowing 7-day festival based on America’s Burning Man which celebrates sustainability, self-reliance, self-expression and creativity. Participants wear elaborate costumes and body paint to create art and music, and set up theme camps that provide free food and drinks for others. In addition, festival-goers create structures for burning, and generally create unique and liberating experiences for one another in any way they can.

To stay true to these values of authenticity, the festival is completely inclusive and is accessible to anyone. In addition, every participant must bring their own food, water and shelter as the festival is a decommodified zone which means that there are no vendors or branding at the event – nothing is for sale. Everyone who attends AfrikaBurn is expected to contribute in some way which includes musicians, artists and performers who all volunteer their services. In short, this coming together is about giving without expecting anything in return.

AfrikaBurn

The touchstone of value in AfrikaBurn’s culture is immediacy;

Experience before theory
Moral relationships before politics
Survival before services
Roles before jobs
Ritual before symbolism
Work before vested interest
Participant support before sponsorship

 

The Journey

 

The drive from Cape Town to Tankwa Town takes around 6 hours in total. Two hours of that journey take place on a dirt road once you pass the town of Ceres in the Western Cape which doesn’t sound like much of a drama until you realise that another 12,0000 people are also on the same route at the same time. It can be treacherous; Fiat Puntos and 4x4s overtaking at 90km/h and clouds of dust which sometimes obscure drivers’ vision beyond 20m have caused fatal accidents in the past. Drive Safe!

Camping at AfrikaBurn

When camping at AfrikaBurn, you can either set up a nomadic tent as a base camp if you’re with a bunch people or you can stay at a theme camp. As previously mentioned, nothing is for sale at AfrikaBurn except ice so pack your bags as if you were Bear Grylls setting off into the wilderness; come prepared or be prepared for a shitty experience!

Desert life consists of warm days, cold nights, sandstorms, possible rain and mud floods so be sure to pack these essential items;

  • Tent
  • Lights
  • Cooking gear
  • Toilet paper
  • Wet tissues
  • Eye drops
  • Shower bag
  • Water

AfrikaBurn

The AfrikaBurn Set-Up

AfrikaBurn The participants’ camps at AfrikaBurn are built around the playa. A playa is a desert basin with no outlet where the festival’s artwork is exhibited and maybe burned during the 7-day exposition. All theme tents and self-provided accommodation are also set up around the playa, creating an inner circle called the binnekring which could be likened to a boulevard along the beach.

You’d be forgiven for thinking you were on an organised hiking trip when trekking from place to place in the desert. Walks of around 30km per day are not uncommon when travelling from base camp to other areas of the festival such as theme camps for coffee, artwork on the playa, pop-up parties, camps for dinner, camps for smoking water pipes, “toilets”, and any other camps on the binnekring that take your fancy. Needless to say, you’ll need a good pair of “rock-resistant” shoes for walking in and around the playa.

AfrikaBurn

You’d be forgiven for thinking you were on an organised hiking trip when trekking from place to place in the desert. Walks of around 30km per day are not uncommon when travelling from base camp to other areas of the festival such as theme camps for coffee, artwork on the playa, pop-up parties, camps for dinner, camps for smoking water pipes, “toilets”, and any other camps on the binnekring that take your fancy. Needless to say, you’ll need a good pair of “rock-resistant” shoes for walking in and around the playa.

You could, of course, bring a mutant vehicle – A motorised vehicle that is pimped in a way that is Afrikaburn-worthy – to cut the walking to a minimum. You’ll see all kinds of vehicles here; party trains, chill lounge cars, mutant bicycles, flying carpets, land-boards driven by a windsurf sail or kite, and even pirate ships. Most of them with the purpose of contributing value to AfrikaBurn.

The People

AfrikaBurn is the embodiment of communal acceptance and self-expression; negative behaviour is non-existent. In essence, you can do whatever you feel like doing as long as you show total respect to everyone around you. This type of environment promotes an emotional openness and a social connection that doesn’t seem to exist in everyday life.

AfrikaBurn is almost like a parallel universe that has developed out of a mutual understanding between souls, and where expression through art, music and clothing connects everyone to form one whole. It’s a universe where the balance is restored, where energy flows, where there is no currency, no trade, where people do not work, where people do what they love, where only the giving and receiving of gifts exists, and where human beings exist in perfect harmony. This may be a temporary mindset for a maximum of a 7-day period, but these things all become learned behaviours and can be integrated into our everyday lives.

In this environment, you can be whoever you want to be; a mythical creature, a fairy, a mechanical warlord, total randomness, or perhaps you’ll choose to be totally naked. This is a non-judgmental place. Whether you’re volunteering, relaxing, gazing at the moon landscape or dancing the night away at one of the many party tents, you can be YOU.

AfrikaBurn

Final Thoughts about AfrikaBurn

In a way, AfrikaBurn is the real-life version of Viral Dreaming; it’s a totally surreal scenario that brings fantasy to life for thousands of people every year and gives them special memories to treasure for the rest of their lives. If you are a free-spirited, open-minded person who enjoys meeting like-minded people then AfrikaBurn is definitely for you.

Many who attend this festival will reflect on their experience with disbelief and will have to quickly adapt to real life as they’re driving back down the dusty R355. However, these acts of selflessness and generosity experienced at AfrikaBurn are sure to spill over into our everyday existence and may, to some degree, make the world outside of this life-changing festival a little more tolerable.

Do you have a story to tell? Perhaps you have a dream you’d like to share with others? Here at Viral Dreaming, we’re giving you and a friend the chance to WIN your ultimate dream adventure by simply sharing your dream with us. Surfing in Florianopolis? Skydiving in Hawaii? Mountaineering in Norway? Tell us how you want it and we may be sending you there very soon! Watch the AfrikaBurn 2018 movie under the form.

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2 Comments

  1. Wish I were there. Beautiful photo’s, outfits, lovely smiles and connecting to one another and the earth. Wonderful initiative

    Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah,
      It is definitely something you should put on your bucket list if you like putting your phone aside for a few days and connect with open-minded, genuine people, earth and the present.

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