AfrikaBurn is an official Burning Man event, held annually in the Tankwa Karoo National Park. The very first Burning Man event was held in 1986 in San Francisco – initially, a bonfire ritual which saw the burning of a large wooden effigy (‘The Man’) on the summer solstice, the gathering grew in popularity until it eventually found its way to Reno. There, every year, it is hosted at Black Rock City – a temporary city erected in the Black Rock Desert of northwest Nevada.
What began as a ritual with a gathering of only 35 people, 33 years later is a world-renowned phenomenon hosting close to 70,000 people.
The event is described as an experiment in community and art, and centres on ten main principles:
1. Radical inclusion – anyone may participate
2. Radical self-reliance – everyone is encouraged to rely on their inner resources
3. Radical self-expression – whether in art forms or projects
4. Communal effort – with an emphasis on cooperation and collaboration
5. Civic responsibility – ensuring that all events are in accordance with the law
6. Gifting – an important element where the value of a gift is unconditional
7. Decommodification – the absence of commercial sponsorships, transactions or advertising
8. Participation – everyone is invited to actively participate to encourage transformative change
9. Immediacy – the goal is to overcome barriers between us
10. Leave no trace – no physical trace shall remain after the event
South Africa’s offshoot, AfrikaBurn, was first held in 2007 and over time has come to add the 11th principle:
11. Each one teach one – as custodians of our culture we should pass knowledge on
The event is radical on so many levels, least of all the idea that you need to bring along EVERYTHING you might need over the seven-day period as nothing is available for purchase. Water, food, shelter, medicine – if you need it, you need to bring it.
One of the biggest challenges is food – what do you take and how do you keep it fresh?
Crush – an online magazine dedicated to foodie news and info – ran a very informative article last year, listing a few clever pointers:
- Remember that what goes, must come back, so be mindful of your choices – the less packaging you have to contend with the better
- Food is great for gifting, but think about possible allergens such as nuts when you share your munchies
- Rusks and cereals are great options for breakfast, and long-life milk in small containers is ultra-convenient – no refrigeration necessary
- Ideal meals to cook and freeze before you go are curries, soups and stews – keep them in plastic containers, let them defrost naturally and then heat them up in pots on your gas cooker or over the fire
- Be sure to debone any meat before you cook it – again, the less you’re left with at the end of the meal, the less waste you have to take back home with you
- Think about how any item will fare in the desert heat and then work around that – buttering your rolls before you leave is better than taking a brick of butter along
- Buy grated cheese and pre-sliced foods where you can – the less prep you have to contend with in the desert the better
- Take fruits that are easy to eat and don’t require cutting
One of the most important things to take along, of course, is water – organisers suggest allowing 5 litres per person per day. An ideal way to multi-purpose is to fill and freeze plastic bottles with water before you go – they start off as ice bricks and when they melt you drink it.
AfrikaBurn is an incredible event, but forethought and preparation are essential to truly enjoying it and making it a successful experience too. So, if you’re one of the many free spirits intent on participating in this mind-shifting experiment in the desert – plan ahead, have fun and be safe!