The Burning Man community manifests around the world in the form of regional burns. The largest is Afrikaburn, which takes place in April/May each year in the desert of Tankwa, Karoo, South Africa. In 2019, 16,783 participants united to create Tankwa Town, the temporary experiment in community, art, self expression and survival camping that is Afrikaburn.
I hope these photos featuring the people, mutant vehicles, art, effigies and community of Afrikaburn inspire you to participate in a regional burn near you! If you are curious how Afrikaburn stacks up to Burning Man, be sure to read till the end!
Radical Self Expression: the People of Afrikaburn
The Clan: the Central Effigy in Tankwa Town
The ‘San Clan’ is burned at the climax of the week, much like the man of Burning Man. It is a uniquely South African symbol directly influenced by a San cave painting outside Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape Province. It represents a community as one, united. The Clan is interpreted by a different artist each year and in 2019 it was a bedside lamp to make you feel right at home. The clan symbol is cutout on its shade.
“It didn’t depict any particular gender, and captured the collaboration and community we wanted to inspire… In time of course I realized that it was also symbolic of how many heads will seldom all be in agreement, and that the multitude of dancing legs can dance to different drums.” -Greg Dunn
Mutant Vehicles: Art Cars and Bikes of Afrikaburn
Art of Afrikaburn
The Octocrab: interactive art piece and effigy. You could climb up the legs and slide down! It rained ash as it burned.
Temples of Afrikaburn
The Temple of Xam was built out of weaved wattle as a monument to the original inhabitants of the Tankwa Karoo. It was a semi permanent structure that burned in 2019 quietly and beautifully.
The Temple of Stars by Walter Böhmer and the Starlight Collective.
Communal Effort and Gifting: Sound Stages, Camps and More
The Spirit Train: mutant vehicle/sound stage gifting a mobile party across Afrikaburn
Cobracabana: sound stage and effigy that gifted techno from Berlin and Snake Juice wine from South Africa!
Lupis: the wolf sound stage with a laser shooting out the mouth
Potato Heads: best hot lunch served at Afrikaburn! There was a different recipe each day. I loved camping with this crew! 🙂
Fractal Chill Ethiopian Coffee House
Solstice: sound stage that brought great music and a lot of pyrotechnics
How is Afrikaburn different from Burning Man?
Burning Man draws in ~70,000 participants to create Black Rock City, which is quite a lot larger than Tankwa Town’s ~17,000. There are 10 principles of burning man that reflect the ethos and culture of the community: Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-Reliance, Radical Self-Expression, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leave No Trace, Participation and Immediacy. Afrikaburn has an 11th official principle: Each One, Teach One.
With the smaller size, there is a greater sense of intimacy. It is a lot easier to meet up with friends and see people more than once. This is my favorite aspect of regional burns. I feel there is a more significant focus on community. All in all, it is a town and not a city!
At Burning Man, you really need a bike or mutant vehicle to navigate the vast landscape. Alternatively, you really don’t need a bike to get around Tankwa Town. If you would like to bike, there is a camp called Pedals for Peace where you can purchase one and they will donate it to a community in need after the burn.
Contrary to the rough portos of Black Rock City, Afrikaburn provides a very different restroom situation- a “loo with a view” where you can catch the sunset, sunrise or stars.
All in all, Afrikaburn is an amazing regional burn that is worth taking part in. I fell in love with it and will be back!
Have you been to a Regional Burn? What did you enjoy the most? Let me know below in the comments!
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