When I went on leave I posted a comment on Facebook about how excited I was to be going to Tankwa. One of my friends responded and asked me to elaborate because on the satellite image there appears to be absolutely nothing there!
While this is true for most of the year (Tankwa is a nature reserve in the middle of the desert in the Karoo), once a year a small section of the area is transformed into a temporary tent city where a growing group of creative people gather to express themselves in whatever manner tickles their fancy.
AfrikaBurn is modelled on the American Burning Man event. Esentially it is a platform for self-expression. Anybody is welcome to attend and free to present any creative work, be it sculpture, performance art, music, dance, yoga, sport, painting, craft, lightshow or other interactive activity. At the heart of the event is a culture of gifting and every participant is encouraged to arrive with something to share with the group. The event offers a level playing field due to its strictly non-commercial nature. Branding, marketing and advertising are not allowed. The focus is not on commercial value, rather on the Arts as a gift to be shared with humanity.
Because of the harsh environmental conditions, it is also an exercise in “radical self-reliance”. You bring everything that you need to survive for the duration of the event, including water, and you take it all away with you again when you leave, including your garbage. The organisers have a strict “Leave No Trace” policy to which you agree when you buy your ticket. Participants are also encouraged to volunteer and many do. Volunteer duties range from meet and greet at the gate, to garbage and toilet clean-up.
The event culminates in a mass burning on the final night where most of the art installations and sculptures are burned to ash to honour nature and time as the great leveller of all human pursuits. By the end of the event there is only the open desert plain with vast skies and breathtaking views of distant mountains, with no trace of the carnival of creative mayhem that played out there for a few short days.
Many people ask me where my inspiration comes from throughout the year. The AfrikaBurn experience is enough to keep the creative juices flowing in abundance for a long time after the dust has settled.
Visit the AfrikaBurn Facebook page to see pictures of the event.
I hope to see you there next year!