The AfrikaBurn Experience.
I love festivals. Which is why I'd always wanted to go to AfrikaBurn ever since it first started. Fortunately, my dream came true in 2016 and I finally got to attend this event on its tenth anniversary.
This however I was informed, was not your average festival. AfrikaBurn is based on the concepts and principles of Burning Man, held annually in the Nevada Desert which has also been on my bucket list since forever. As with that I was told, there would be no scheduled live bands. No mobile phone reception. And no stalls from which to buy food, water and merchandise, as this was a world where money didn't even exist. These were all foreign concepts to me for a festival, so I jumped online to do as much research as I could. I read about everything from the treacherous route there to what provisions to bring. I spoke to friends who had attended previously and Googled images from past events. But even with all this, I still felt as if I had no idea of what to expect.
After arriving, it took me a while to get accustomed to the harsh Karoo environment and to fully grasp the concept of what was going on around me. I quickly realised that this was very different to what I was used to at regular festivals. This was more like I was part of a community where we all lived together for a week to express ourselves however we wished and not be judged for it. Where we could exist in a world that didn't run on currency but rather on gifting. And where we could appreciate the weird and wonderful art installations and then, reflect and gain some inner perspective whilst watching them burn to the ground a few days later. At some point during one of the nights, I remember witnessing a multi-storey installation, violently ablaze. To my left was a huge mechanical dragon, spewing fire and music. A DJ could vaguely be seen in its depths, working his decks. On my other side, a mutant vehicle with people dancing on various levels, shot lazers miles into the horizon and the star filled sky. People were everywhere. Some dressed in lights or feathers. Some looking like animals, others like cyborgs. And it all took place on a vast, barren landscape of rocks and dust which closely resembled that of the moon. If I didn't know better, I would have thought that someone had spiked my drink with a powerful hallucinogen. But this was just an ordinary night at AfrikaBurn. No amount of Googling or research could have prepared me for this.
At the end of it all, we armed ourselves with wallets and cellphones and sadly returned to the normal world. For weeks thereafter, we heard about people's stories and saw their photos of the event on Facebook. And we all wished that we could go back. To a place without proper showers or beds or bathrooms. Without Wi-fi and television. In an environment that was sometimes hot, sometimes cold and even on the odd occasion, ravaged by floods or wind storms. But we didn't care. Because we knew that this was a small price to pay for the AfrikaBurn Experience.
You can also view a short video I filmed of my experience here...
Check out the official AfrikaBurn website here for more details.