I just returned to civilization after experiencing Afrikaburn, the official offspring of the Burning Man festival that takes place in Nevada. Nestled in the middle of the Karoo, spectacularly creative South Africans come together each year to form a temporary community full of costumes, colors, and alternate realities. A few days before the Burn, my roommates and I stocked up on water, outfits, foodstuffs commonly found in bomb shelters, random gifts to give away, and more water. When we arrived at the gate, an enthusiastic joker ushered all of us Virgin Burners to sound the gong as he hooted, clapped, and we cheered each other on in the background. As the sun was setting, we pitched our tents somewhere between Krishna and 9:30ish (the setup is based on a clock, with rays of streets jutting out from the giant center circle). That clock ended up being one of the only symbols of time while I was there as people mainly structure their days by needs to eat, drink, rest, and be merry. Disoriented and enchanted, we spent the rest of the nights ambling through the wonderland, with nothing but neon lights, thumping electronic music, and the twinkling Southern Cross to guide us.
Afrikaburn prides itself on a system of gifting and sharing. This means no buying, no selling, and no money involved! It was so liberating to wonder around and randomly be offered a gift some bubbles in exchange for a cinnamon-sprinkled crepe. The tenets of Afrikaburn encourage radical inclusion, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. Any stranger was welcome into your tent, yet individuals were free to discover and embody their personal journey. At the end of the night, everyone collectively gathered around the burns – fantastic structures that took months and months of artistic vision and planning. There was something very primal and communal about standing around the fires, listening to music, and reflecting on the randomness that brought us all together.
By the end of it all, I was a little Afrikaburnt out, seeing that the only “shower” I had for five days was in the form of baby wipes. All of the adjectives in the world cannot allow for me to properly describe to you all the utter awesomeness that is Afrikaburn. Alas, here are some photos that might serve a little bit of justice.