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Afrika Burn 2011 02/28/11

Claire Martens hopes you'll join her and spend a few days in the desert, surrounded by free-spirited hippies.

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The stof that we are made of

In exactly two months time, I know exactly where I will be and hope you will be joining me too. I will be at Afrika Burn, getting a tan, enjoying a bostoilet and indulging in one of the most complex, but life-changing, experiences of my life.

Afrika Burn is essential an art festival, largely based on the Burning Man festival held in America, that takes place every year in the desert near an area called Tankwa in the Northern Cape. The premise is that no money exchanges hands; you bring everything you need to survive, as well as anything that you would like to give to the community. Everyone is expected to give gifts, no matter how big, small, weird or arty these gifts are. Most of the art works, or installations, are burned at some point during the festival; the biggest one being the burning man.

Afrika Burn (AB) can be summed up in one word; freedom. AB means both social and psychological freedom, a kind of defragging of the brain that only masses of drugs can achieve in the same way. Why? Because AB is where you will find those people, en masse, that you always hoped existed; the artistic, laid-back, contented, earth-loving kind.

AB is about those people who dress up in outlandish outfits and ride the desert on bicycles. AB is the giving, loving fashion that people go about their business; constantly handing out little gifts and random acts of kindness. AB is the massive yoga class held against the backdrop of the rising sun. AB is also those hippies enjoying some carnal pleasure in full view of our campsite and the naked couple who did a contemporary dance routine next to the burning ship.

None of these human acts are distasteful or unclean, because the atmosphere of this vast desert camp is “let and let live” in the truest sense of the phrase. You don’t have to be a certain kind of person to enjoy Afrika Burn, you just have to be open to everything you see; including artworks which make you think, naked bums and people from all walks of life. That is the beauty of the Afrika Burn experience, you get to be and do whatever you want to, unless it impacts in a negative way on anyone else. But why would you want to impact in a negative way? You will be too busy enjoying friendly conversations, a band playing on the back of a truck, free drinks and food, community art projects, a vast array of quirky camp sites and too many hugs to count.

Last year, after 5 days of pure pleasure, it was difficult to re-enter a society based on competition, deceit, endless days on the job and money, money, money. AB lets you get away from all of that. A simple concept, but one you can only truly appreciate once you have experienced it. It restores your faith in humanity; we are made of good stuff too and AB brings out the best in us. Come to Afrika Burn and be touched – in more ways than one.

Dates: Wed 27 April – Monday 2 May 2011
Place: Tankwa Karoo
Theme: Stof – The Primal Mud
Prices: 2nd tier – R400 – limited amount available
3rd tier: R500 – unlimited until online ticketing closes. Midnight Sunday 24th April 2011
At the gate: R550 – strictly cash

Some hints and tips:

  • You will be driving quite a distance on dirt road; either try to bring or borrow a bakkie, SUV etc, or expect to drive slowly.
  • There is no cellphone signal at Afrika Burn – which is part of its charm – which can be bad if you break-down.
  • Bring everything you need – including lots of water. Expect that every person will use approximately 4/5 litres per day.
  • There are no showers and toilets are essentially long drops. Leave behind all notions of western toilet technologies; you will be roughing it.
  • Read the website for more:

Photos by Kathy Leverton and Richard Parry

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Laura Cooke is the editor and creator of the Veggie Bunch website and community.

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One Responses to this article

editor March 4, 2011 Reply

I have often considered going to Afrika Burn for the photo opportunities, but I am not sure that I could cope with 5 days out in the desert surrounded by crazy people!

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