The annual AfrikaBurn festival closed in a fiery blaze of glory at the Tankwa Karoo Desert in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province on Sunday.
Created in 2007, the week-long festival is a celebration of sustainability, self-reliance and creativity. It encourages festival-goers to experience life in an environment far removed from their normal routine. It also provides a platform for artists, musicians and performers in every field to display their talent. Everyone who attends is expected to participate in some way.
Over 11,000 people were attracted to the festival this year. They wore elaborate costumes, body paint and wandered around, giving out hot dogs, pancakes and drinks and creating unique experiences for each other.
Delphine and Vincent came to the festival from Paris; they spent three months preparing their costumes for the festival.
“I did everything myself. It took me about three months to get the inspirations and to do the work. So it was really nice to prepare everything and then that we can wear it here today, so it was worth all the work,” said Delphine.
The festival is an official, regional event and is affiliated with the Burning Man festival, which takes place every year in the Black Rock Desert in the U.S. state of Nevada. It is famous for allowing no cash transactions and insisting that visitors leave no trash behind them when the festival ends.
AfrikaBurn is run on 11 guiding principles, which act as both a kind of manifesto and constitutional self-governing law.
One of these principles is participation.
There is no money at AfrikaBurn. Nothing is for sale and nothing can be bought. In this community, everything is gifted and received with grace.
“It’s a place where we always call it a sandpit for adults. People come and play, they can be themselves, there is no money for a week, you don’t have to worry what you can pay or what you can’t pay. So everybody is gifting something – some people give music some people give art, some people give cappuccino!” said Etienne Barkhuysen, a coffee shop owner.
AfrikaBurn is not only a sandpit for adults, but also a playground for kids as well.
“I really like it because I get to meet new people and I get to look at the artworks and watch them getting burnt down,” said a boy attending the event.
AfrikaBurn is like a temporary utopia for people and allows them to get rid of all the noise and restrictions from their daily lives. Travis Lyle, the communications director of AfrikaBurn, says that there are very few free places where people can be what they want to be and AfrikaBurn is one of these select few.
For many, watching the spectacle of giant art installations being set on fire is a major highlight of AfrikaBurn.
Over the last three nights of the week-long event, massive art pieces were burned, mesmerizing the throngs of people at the event.
When the festival is all over, everything is packed up, leaving no trace that this parallel universe ever existed.