Photos by Keegan Foreman Words by Beatrice Gilbo
AfrikaBurn is a community of participants who come together to create art, burning structures, costume, performance, theme camps, music, mutant vehicles and much, much more. All of this is created through the volunteer culture of the citizens of Tankwa Town in the Karoo once a year (South Africa) .
AfrikaBurn’s aim is to be radically inclusive and accessible to anyone. The touchstone of value in our culture will always be immediacy: experience before theory, moral relationships before politics, survival before services, roles before jobs, ritual before symbolism, work before vested interest, participant support before sponsorship.
Nothing is for sale but ice at the event. Nothing. There are no vendors, no advertising or branding. It just doesn’t fit in. It’s not even a barter economy – it’s a decommodified zone with a gift economy that’s about giving without expecting anything in return.
The desert is a mystical place, where nothingness prevails. When our eyes perceive these infinite places, our mind falls into a hypnotic state, meditating on the deepest meaning of life.
The road to Tankwa town is harsh and sour. For hours, one finds oneself on unbeaten roads. The sceneries repeat themselves constantly, yet are never the same. The sound of the wheels on the hard stones shakes every fiber of who we are.
The wait is sweet agony. We wait, anxious to arrive. We see cars on the side of this harsh road, and wonder if we are going to make it.
Finally, we arrive to the doors of this crazy city.
In the desert we rediscover that precisely this nothingness inspires the mind of man. It is precisely this space that gives us humans the freedom to be who we really are; creators of new realities, explorers of new dimensions.
We, the inhabitants of Tankwa Town, are now creators of destinies.
We carefully choose who we want to be, even before our arrival, but it is only when we meet the fairy powder of the desert that we finally transform in new creatures. It almost feels like a movie set, this powder being the last essential touch of make up, as if in these infinitely small pieces of rock are the magical ingredient that transforms us into who we really want to be.
Once the sand has covered our bodies, we begin the adventure. We wander through this fairy city, where everyone embodies who they really want to be. The celebration of a dream starts. A world that is not enslaved by money, a world that worships fantasies.
The cold of the night and the blazing heat of the day, stars, galaxies, the lights, the costumes, the colours, the fiery sky at sunset, the wind dancing with the sand… even machines come alive and transform themselves into beings with personality and character. Everything comes alive and takes form, looking at us in the eyes. As if in a fairytale, the life of a new civilization begins.
It seems that in the desert, nothing happens by chance. It is as if the souls of mankind connect to a superior intelligence. Everything seems to happen for a profound reason. Encounters are always deeply important. People embrace or reject us. Everyone in Tankwa Town is here to teach us something. Mysterious people give or take, some give us important messages or precious gifts, others take what is necessary for their journey. The game is giving and taking. Every one of us offers infinite possibilities. Tanka Town’s secret is precisely this energy exchange.
I met wonderful people whose name I do not know. They gifted me with profound emotions with their stares, words, smiles, hugs, and gifts. These are the moments I will cherish forever. These are the moments that, every day, will give me the strength to believe that in the end humanity is not merely an economic game.
We are stellar beings, made of dreams and stardust, and we are companions in this journey. The real ecstasy is knowing we are together and that we can contribute to each other’s path to knowledge. This, perhaps, is the deepest gift bestowed to us by existence. When we see ourselves as part of the other and everything, the suffering of being alive disappears, and the glorious power of love wins upon all.
About the authors:
Keegan Foreman, born in 1993, is currently living in Cape Town, South Africa. He graduated from University of Cape Town as an engineer and is now exploring his creativity through his passion for photography.
Beatrice Gilbo, born 1994 , in Rome is living now in Cape Town since 2012. She has always been passionate about poetry or writing , she moved to South Africa when she was 18 years old , she left her hometown without knowing English or anyone in the country. She is now owner of a jewellery business called Talisman Collective , and she is studying to became a Yoga Teacher at Yoga Life in Cape Town.