The Temple

The Temple has developed as a part of AfrikaBurn’s physical and emotional landscape as a space of contemplation and reflection. The temple is intended as an area of sanctuary, a site of calm on the edge of the chaos and cacophony of Tankwa Town. A space to spend time with one’s own thoughts, reflect on one’s life, the lives of others, those recently passed, ancestors.

The Temple should inspire us and stimulate our spiritual awareness of nature and cosmos. While the structure may be a thing of beauty its significance is in its transience. It is a place of letting go, a place of release. It’s the pinnacle of our celebration of immediacy and catharsis.



2007 – [no title] (Brad Baard & Peter Hayes)
2008 – [No temple]
2009 – ‘The Temporal’ (Monique Schiess & Brad Baard)
2010 – [Same from 2009]
2011 – Pyramid temple structure (Adriaan Wessels)
2012 – ‘Solace’ (Simon Bannister and crew)
2013 – ‘Compression’ (Simon Bannister and crew)
2014 – ‘The Offering’ (Simon Bannister and crew)
2015 – ‘Metamorphosis’ (Verity Maud and crew)
2016 – ‘Awakening’ (Verity Maud and crew)
          – ‘Temple of |Xam’ (Kim Goodwin and The Dandylions)
2017 – ‘Temple of Gratitude’ (Walter Böhmer and crew)
2018 – ‘Oasis’ (Anushka Kempken and crew)
2019 – ‘Temple of Stars’ (Walter Böhmer & The Starlights)

In year one (2007) a Temple was built by Brad Baard and Peter Hayes. That year our Clan was not completed on time for a burn on the Saturday night and Brad and Peter very graciously let us burn it on the Saturday in lieu of having a Clan burn on that night.

In 2009, Brad and Monique Schiess built ‘The Temporal’ (the theme that year being ‘Time’) but the structure wasn’t called ‘the temple’, though its stated intention was to be a quiet and reflective space. It was built in what was ‘the outskirts’ of the event at that stage.


In 2011 Adriaan Wessels built his pyramid Temple structure. A discussion was then had, initially among ArtCom members and then across the broader AfrikaBurn team and organisation, about whether to have a solicited temple space. It was decided at the time that we would not do a callout or solicit a temple space (motivated primarily by the fact that we didn’t just want to cut and paste from Burning Man), but if there was one that rose up in the community then AfrikaBurn would support it.



In 2012 Simon Bannister entered the fray with ‘Solace’ and followed it up with ‘Compression’ and ‘The Offering’ in 2013 and 2014.



He initially wanted to name the  structures ‘The Temple of….’ (Solace, Compression and The Offering) but was dissuaded, though he did go on to call the collective ‘The Temple Crew.’



In 2015 Verity Maud came along and ArtCom experimented with placing the Temple in the middle of the Binnekring for a couple of different reasons:

1. That that was the quieter space at the time. The Loud Zone has moved to the far reaches, so to have the Temple far out would mean that it was in the Loud Zone.
2. That with Verity leading up activating the space very intentionally it would evolve and advance the use of and understanding of the Temple space at AfrikaBurn


In 2017 Walter Böhmer and his crew created the ‘Temple of Gratitude’, which also incorporated the intentionality of having a space for reflection and letting go. The Temple was opened on Monday morning with a ceremony toward this purpose.

Also in 2017, artist Kim Goodwin (and his crew The Dandylions) built Temple |Xam as a dedication to the |Xam, who were among the First Peoples of South Africa and inhabited the Tankwa Karoo for many thousands of years. Though this structure was not created as ‘the Temple’ for AfrikaBurn, it did come to represent a space that carried much the same meaning for many participants at our main annual event. The structure stood on site from 2017 until 2019, when it was burned on the Wednesday of event week in a silent burn.

In 2018 year Anushka Kempken and crew created ‘Oasis’. The last four Temples were projects whose crews and workshops were located in Gauteng, which has been awesome – but this was also largely the reason for the Temple burn taking place on the Saturday of the event.


In 2019, Walter Böhmer and The Starlights created the ‘Temple of Stars’. This year the temple burn was moved to Sunday at the artist’s request in order to “enable a space for catharsis “. The centre structure was also encircled with a perimeter (fence) for the first time, which worked well to hold the space.

Further reading:

The Temple burn is an example of something that became an unintentionally ritualised icon because our energy made it so.


Simon Bannister – reflections on building ‘The Offering’
Shani Judes – ‘Temple Tale’

Burning Man

Initiations and Salutations
Building The Temple


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