For the first time in my life, this year, I spent the last week at Afrikaburn, the African leg of Burning Man. And, I have this to say: A-Frikkin’-Mazing!
Afrikaburn is a week-long festival that happens every year around the end of April / beginning of May in the Karoo desert. The little town of Tankwa springs up a short while before the Burn and disappears back into the desert at the end, one of the key principles being “Leave no trace”.
There are several principals governing the town and festival, put in place to ensure the most harmonious environment between humankind and nature for that brief period that leaves such a strong mark on everybody. We may leave no trace of our existence in the desert but Afrikaburn tends to imprint itself on the heart of virtually all its attendees.
This was my first experience of this wondrous space. What makes it so wondrous? Well, among many things, it’s a space of amazing tolerance. Everybody is encouraged to be themselves, to be free, to open, creative, unrestricted. People have the freedom to dress up (or not), express themselves (or not), and enjoy and reveal themselves for who they are and not who they need to be to survive society.
One of the greatest things about being a performer is that I can experience situations and personalities that I would not ordinarily engage in in my regular life. In fact, I know several actor friends who took to the stage because it was the one place they didn’t feel as judged and self-conscious. Many performers are the most introverted people you could know, even while their stage personae seem to indicate otherwise.
This is what Afrikaburn offers. A place where you aren’t judged. Where you are free to be yourself, if only for a week. To indulge and express in ways that would be frowned upon in regular society. Honestly, once you’ve experienced a week at the Burn, you’d probably realise, society has a long way to go before it decides to loosen its neck tie and unclench its buttocks.
Pretty much everybody who attends the Burn is changed by it. They get to experience what a more ideal society would be like. Sure, it’s not perfect but it’s certainly closer to a more utopian existence than regular city life.
I’ve posted some photos here. Be warned tho, if you are of a prudish nature, there are several pictures portraying nudity and freedom that may offend your sense of uptightedness. 😉