15 December 2010 by Chris Marais

Afrika Burn - Getting Down in the Desert

Afrika Burn, a gob-smackingly hot, dusty and over-the-bloody-top festival that takes place in the Tankwa Desert every autumn, has me totally hooked.

I first went there with my wife Jules a couple of years ago, expecting a New Age flea market in the dust. We stayed for three days and marvelled at the creativity, good nature and random, occasionally very interactive, nudity we came across.

If you want to see what the young people of South Africa are really up to these days, then you must attend Afrika Burn with all your bells on. Let your freak flag fly, forget your city troubles and come out to The Big Dry.

What some tribes do is take along a massive semi-circus Bedouin tent, and park the individual little pup tents under it. The site is sorted - toilets are great and there are even some shower points available. The Afrika Burn crews are really pro.

Don’t come and try to sell anything - a big no-no. Instead, bring along a bag of small gifts and walk around Tankwa Town handing them out, saying warm things and making new friends.

By day, people parade around the main ring on bicycles, by foot, mostly bearing sun umbrellas, all made-up and looking dandy. Then they party all night, and as you walk around the camp you have a choice of music from trance to hard rock to someone sitting in a tent playing three-chord folk songs.

And at the end of it all, some of the marvellous effigies in the area are burnt. But this is all about the Phoenix rising from the flames, because next year the Tankwa Bird flies even higher…

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