You’re standing in the middle of a wide, flat plain of baking hot red rock. Next to you is The Wish, a three-storey-high dome constructed out of circles of white-painted marine plywood. A little further off stands a multi-headed effigy, the San Clan, which stands a little higher than The Wish. In the distance you can make out the blue silhouettes of the Cedarberg. It’s midday and 40 degrees in the shade, and. There. Is. No. Shade. In every direction across the dusty red Martian plain on which this carnival of creative community takes place, you are encircled by camps, each of which is different, all presenting a colourful and varied addition to the numerous large and small structures and artworks scattered across the empty centre of Tankwa Town. Population? Around a thousand. Location? Tankwa Karoo, Northern Cape. Yes folks, you’re at AfrikaBurn, South Africa’s own regional Burning Man event.
One of the twenty themed camps at AfrikaBurn 2008, our Camp AmaDeadly Disco is the creation of my freinds and I. Promoters and DJs from Durban and KZN, we're familiar to punters who have attended NONONO!!!, Lightworkx, Jalarupa and AmaFullThrottle events in our neck of the woods. Let's just say we're...gregarious. Die-hards to a man (and woman), we undertook a road trip that eventually ate up some 3400 kilometres of tar and dirt, shredded one tyre and left a few marbles roaming the Karoo. As AfrikaBurn is a Burning Man event, it operates according the Ten Principles of a Burn (see www.afrikaburns.com for more on that), and meant that we AmaDeadlies took every part of their camp with us, from Durban, and took it back once the dust had settled (and been washed out of their hair). Dust, anybody? No?
Our camp itself consisted of a complete (and carpeted) dancefloor, including quadraphonic sound, a DJ booth, chill area and, of course, discoballs and lights. Covered by a stretch tent, our aim was to participate in the event by playing music, and offering their space to all comers. After four days of non-stop music, pyrotechnics, fun and games and self-reliance, we packed up our camp, and in keeping with the ‘leave no trace’ ethos of the event, left nothing more than a few small holes in the ground where industrial-strength staves once held our 20x15m tent down.
A few hors d’oeuvres short of a cocktail party, or just plain mad for the jol? That’s a matter of opinion, but one thing’s for sure – we’re doing it again this September out there in the Tankwa Karoo, bigger and better than last year. We held a fundraiser recently to spread the word , and raised some funds to ease the costpain of this motherfucker of all road trips, consisting of an information session where Burning Man and AfrikaBurn dvd’s and photos were shown, and of course a wild party which kicked on through to dawn. But we've got plans, big one, for this year's Burn, and have been beavering away with different configurations of structures and gear. Stretch fabric. Staves. Kingpoles. Rope. Poles. Inflatable furniture. Carpeting. Webbing. Ratchets. Dustmasks. Goggles. Jimmy-rigged showers. Diesel. Genny. Bowser. These are a few of our favourite things.
Participants from KZN are kinda thin on the ground at AfrikaBurn, by virtue of the distance to the event, but if you’re interested in attending Africa’s own Burning Man, or would like to know more, let your fingers do the mousing to the AmaDeadly Facebook Page
(This article also published on Mahala.)