(words by The Bohemian Doctor – photos by Hervé PHOTOGRAFF)
Trying to describe my first time at AfrikaBurn using words would be like trying to taste music, or to hear colour, or to see speech. It would be like ordering sushi at a burger joint [not okay…for those still confused]. A description would capture but a shadow of what I experienced in the vibe and community that is Tankwa Town. Because this event is so much more than a mere ‘music festival’, it became quite a spiritual experience at times and offered a bubble – in the middle of nowhere and with very few rules – in which to assess one’s own internal milieu and extent of self-regulation and reliance. The fact that I have only found time now – a week later – to write this post after a long and hard week back to reality illustrates faultlessly the stark contrast between the 2 environments, and boy is it a culture-shock being back!
My English teacher taught me that ‘brevity is best’ [she also taught me never to start a sentence with the word ‘but’…oh well] so instead I will split the content over a few posts and describe the culture, the art [and the people] and my interpretations separately [convoy-posts FTW!].
“AfrikaBurn is a community of participants who come together to create art, burning structures, costume, performance, theme-camps, music, mutant vehicles and much, much more.” BAM. What is important to note is that the above-mentioned offerings are volunteer/participant-driven – radical self-reliance, baby!
A set of ‘guiding principles’ – not rules – exist with the aim of assisting participants into a mindset that will allow them to co-operate fully with the environment, and to ‘reinvent the world and ourselves’ in the most successful way possible. Damn – what an aim! The nerd inside wants to list the principles, so we will let her have her way just this once:
Toilets, roads, signage, medics and health officers and an airstrip are provided. Every other facility is provided by the participants. Nothing is staged or scheduled in a commercial sense, and performance is said to be “spontaneous and eclectic and frequently designed to encourage participation”. Absolutely nothing is sold at the event, except for ice, and no vendors, advertising or branding is seen. This is a “decommodified zone with a GIFT ECONOMY that is about giving without expecting anything in return”.
I start to hyper-ventilate when reading over what I’ve written so far – as there is SO much to talk about in recreational senses, but more-so in economic and existential senses. I hope that you – the reader – can stop and just CONSIDER properly the kind of environment I have just described. I reiterate the pivotal parts…
Perhaps I am reading too much into this experience? Perhaps the average Joe would describe it as “A lekker jol, hey bru”. I think it will take at least 2 more posts on the matter to clear this confusion up…
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars”
– Jack Kerouac [On the Road]
Want to read more from The Bohemian Doctor? Check out her blog here.