AfrikaBurn 2013 — Burning Man’s official African regional Burn — is underway in Tankwa, South Africa. Now in its seventh year, AfrikaBurn is rightfully touted as “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!”
The event takes place May 1-6 on an expanse of remote desert in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa akin to the Black Rock Desert of Nevada (albeit a little more rocky), and its population has steadily grown since its inception … they’re expecting 8,000 participants this year.
Founded and run under the guidelines of Burning Man’s 10 Principles, their mission statement states: “AfrikaBurn is a participant-created movement, an experiment in inclusive community building, decommodification, creativity, self-reliance and radical self-expression. It is a chance to invent the world anew.”
A small contingent of intrepid Burning Man staffers have made the long journey to AfrikaBurn this year to observe, learn, share knowledge, and join in the revelry, and they’re sending some pictures and stories along, which we’ll add to this post as they arrive. Here’s BettieJune:
Some factoids, they are expecting 8,000 today, a huge lift from last year. They have been doing a lot to grow their infrastructure to handle their growth. The winds have been going pretty strongly, with some shade structures blowing away. But everyone is pitching in, making sure to help everyone else.
Today is May Day, the South African version of Labor Day, and it’s a national holiday. There’s a big line of folks coming in to the event. It’s a hike to get here, it’s about four hours ish from Cape Town, and the last 113 kms are on a dirt and rocky road. We saw one shop offering drinks, etc. We stopped, and they were also selling costumes called “fancy dress”. They loved seeing us, and were incredibly excited about AfrikaBurn, and seeing the participants. They run their whole operation on solar power, and the building is half bar, half store. They invited us back for Friday, when they are doing a meat (lamb) and veggie curry.
And in a second dispatch:
Lots and lots and lots of burning here, approximately 32 burns are scheduled.
Art is a huge part of what’s going on here, with about 90 registered projects, and something in the neighborhood of 50 mutant vehicles.
Tonight is a concert with a piano underneath the Wattle Tower. It should be stunning. A project Burning Man funded last year, the Tunnel of Questionable Enlightenment is here, shining in all its glory. Also the Space Cowboys are here — the small alien sculpture is from the front of their camp. Participants seem to love the Space Cowboys wherever they go.
To get a better sense of the experience, take a look at AfrikaBurn’s beautiful photo and video gallery.