Early morning in Tankwa Karoo. The rising sun is painting the sky pink, much the same colour as the fairy wings on the girl that just saunters past our tent. The smell of coffee has woken me up, and when I look outside I see our neighbours making espressos as fast as they can for the eager crowd that has gathered around their makeshift café. On the other side, two guys (one of them dressed in a sequin covered dress, plateau boots and a blonde afro wig) are struggling to put their tent up. The wind is strong, the ground hard as a rock and I don’t think that the plateaus are helping much either… But before long, a crowd has gathered and the tent is up. At that moment, the moody Karoo wind turns and suddenly a dust storm is blowing straight into our tent. So I pick up a chair and my coffee, and run over to the newly raised tent as they seem to have good cover from the dust. Next to me, a girl with green hair is making cocktails by pouring absinthe over a sugar cube set on an antique silver spoon. A new day has started at Afrika Burn!
Everything is possible in this parallel universe, created for a few days (and nights) in the middle of the Karoo desert. Nothing is for sale, but everything can be had in this world based on giving and receiving. Someone makes coffee, another one offers a massage, or a hug, or a possibility to dance on their plastic lawn. Some people wear elaborate outfits, others nothing but their birthday suit, and some (like our neighbor in the sequin dress) change outfits at least 5 times a day.
But Afrika Burn is not just another crazy festival where you party all night and day. This is the desert baby, and apart from loo roll you’ve got to be completely self-sufficient (including bringing all the water you will need for drinking, cooking and washing). There’s no electricity, no cell-phone signal and nothing can be bought or sold. But you are encouraged to bring gifts and help your fellow burners in any way you can. This is what I love the most about Africa Burn; the fact that you are a member of a tribe that support and love each other. The only thing that is prohibited is littering, and to leave Moop (matter out of place) is frowned upon by everyone.
For a few days, you get to live in this amazing world where everything is possible and the only currency is positive energy! Once it is over, not a trace is left and the Tankwa Karoo goes back to being a vast, empty desert until the tribe visits again the next year.