AfrikaBurn is the spectacular result of the creative expression of a community of volunteers who, once a year, gather in the Tankwa Karoo to create a temporary city of art, theme camps, costume, music and performance! For those that have been no explanation is necessary, for those that haven’t none is possible.
Afrikaburn was founded in 2007 on a private farm called Stonehenge next to the Tankwa Karoo National Park far away from civilization in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Like at Burning Man, you better be pretty intentional in your desire to make this trek. Given that the event is during the Southern Hemisphere’s early fall, there are so many similarities to Burning Man, you may feel like you’re hallucinating. In fact, the event is held over South Africa’s version of Labor Day, May Day. And, given the nature of the event, that may be true depending upon your predilections. The main sculpture at this art event is called the San Clan and it’s designed to look like a San rock art glyph of a group of people to convey the sense of unity at the event. Whether you’re in a theme camp or not, you definitely will feel a sense of community at AfrikaBurn, especially given its more intimate size. AfrikaBurn has learned to live with ever increasing numbers of attendees in a sustainable way.
Everywhere you look, you’ll see dancing, grooving, screaming, shouting, cartwheeling, and cavorting without hindrance. Yes, the creative, radical self-expression that defines Burning Man is in full regalia in Africa. Even the way the temporary city is laid out with a center playa and camps providing a semi-circle around it will remind you of Burning Man. AfrikaBurn is like Burning Man 15 years ago. Everyone is a participant. Idealism abounds. The otherworldly landscape and the ephemeral art make for a soul-searching experience. There’s a belief in the human spirit that’s alive and well at AfrikaBurn.
The theme this year invites you to engage with the level to which you are responsible for defining Tankwa Town, a temporary city in a participant-driven society. Larry Harvey has described how when the small handful of Cacophonist and Bohemians physically moved ‘The Man’ from Baker Beach to the Black Rock Desert, “…no one asked what it was, what its significance was or what it meant, the reason being, because it was us.”