('Shell' by Carin Dickson and Kyle Pratt, with firemaster Martin Glinister in foreground, as shot by Steven Morrow)
Firstly, thank you for reading - we at Africa Burns Transformational Desert Experience Package Tours Inc™ realise that reading is an endangered pursuit. That you’ve chosen to read our news above the overwhelming howl of gratuitous content that otherwise demands so much of your screen time speaks volumes. Thank you. As a faceless multinational corporation, we deeply appreciate your brand loyalty. Secondly, we’d like to inform you that the introduction to this newsletter is unusually long by 21st-Century screenscroll standards. For that, we must apologise and promise that it will be worth your precious time.
So, another year, another burn. We set sail, and together charted some new waters, as we always do. Did it come with the usual set of contradictions and challenges? Hell, yes. Was the wind wild and compass hard to read? But of course. Did it deliver world peace and a solution to all of society's woes? Like hell in a hand basket it did - but if you did it right, it would have rubbed you up the right way, and the wrong. Fair enough: if it rubbed you raw enough right down to your core, along the way you may have picked up some well-earned pearls of desert wisdom to take away. You might even feel obliged to share with those you know (as well as those you don’t). Go with it, and look after them, those pearls - they’re valuable. And kinda rare out here in the faulty world.
So what did we learn out there this time round, under the relentless hammers of an African sun? Other than the stark reminders of how precious water is and how equipped we are to survive extremes? We learned that many people expect the organisation to manage people’s behaviour, which is a curious result, considering it’s a self-organised community. We remembered that headline acts on a world-class rig for 2000 are equal to a sunset piano recital for 200. We were reminded that an intimate experience for 40 should be measured as equal to a remarkable unified bonfire experience for 13 000. We learnt that the canny pranksters who hooked an empty beer can to a fishing line, and rewarded all who tried to pick it up as MOOP with a shot, are weighed as the same magic muti as a massive 5-storey artwork. Because in an autonomous zone, all bets are off - for once - and all efforts are equal. Because why? Because size has no meaning in that place. We were reminded that it’s not the cost of the gift that matters, but rather the depth of personal experience it triggers. And that’s a lesson you should keep alive, out here, where the noise is fierce and the odds of relapse excellent. Don’t falter, sailor: if you found your sea legs, you should do your best to keep ‘em.
We’ve also learned that there are many people who, for some reason, expect services at the level of a World Class Music Festival - and to them, from us at AfrikaBurnz Destination Festivation Megacorp®, we can only apologise that our communications may have somehow created the false expectation that AfrikaBurn is in fact a World Class Music Festival. Sorry about that, it won’t happen again, and that’s a promise you can take to the bank. We’ll be having a word with the head of Communications about this. Suffice to say, for your ticket you should not reasonably expect anything other than to have your bubble pierced whilst your heart is warmed. You will not be handed the experience on a silver platter: you have to work for it. If you didn't, someone's got some splaining to do...
To everyone who realised they needed to observe regular shipshape sanitation to avoid the plague, we acknowledge your contribution to keeping all on board healthy. Sick crew are no crew at all when the wind swings and hatches must be battened down. To everyone who gave of their best damn blood, sweat and tears under wildly challenging conditions to create a gift for people they’ve never even met, we tip our hats in respect and thanks. Well done for fanning the flames: it’s a fire worth keeping alive. To everyone who thought they were in for a luxury cruise, we apologise for the confusion. You may disembark at any time, at your convenience. Apologies, but there are no refunds on this passage.
We’ve got seas to sail and work to do, but if you’ve put your hand up to assist with navigating the waters ahead, step aboard and meet your fellow crewmates. This ship is looking for able-bodied hands, and she’s an equal-opportunity craft: if you’ve got the moxy and you can hold the line when the wind whips up, welcome aboard. To those keen to press on and discover new territories in wait, hold fast and hold true: over the horizon lie wonders and the promise of hope - and there’s no bounty without the hunting. The waters ahead may be choppy, but then smooth seas never did make for good sailors. We sail onward to burn ourselves clean, with eyes on horizon and hearts on sleeve. As ever. Don’t forget folks - it’ll be alright in the end. And if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.
All aboard? All hands on deck: new horizons beckon.
In this newsletter:
- IN MEMORIAM
- PLAGUE DIARIES
- ROLL CALL
- PLUG & SAY WHAT NOW?
- MEANWHILE IN THE TANKWA
- TOWN HALL
- THEME 2018
- HEPHAESTUS' FOOT
- POSITIONS VACANT
- SURVEY AHOY!
- JOZI BURNER SUMMIT
- POSTCARDS FROM THE DUST
You would have heard by now that there was a fatality on the R355 this year, which took place after our event ended. On the afternoon of Monday 1st May, a head-on collision claimed the life of Tinarwo Chakurira, while his passenger Ainord Mwanakwayae was injured. Both men were working on a farm in the Tankwa Karoo at the time of the accident.
The accident was the result of a burner overtaking on a blind rise, in the dust, which is something that we have repeatedly warned users of the R355 about. To Tinarwo's family and friends, we send our deepest condolences, and are working to support the victim's family in every way possible, as even though the victims of the crash were not part of our event, their lives have irreparably been changed by it. Our organisation will be making a donation to those affected to assist them at this difficult time, and we would like to appeal to you to do the same.
To make a donation to the costs of rehabilitation for Ainord, and to assist Tinarwo's family, please CLICK HERE.
This deeply regrettable incident has served as a stark reminder that road safety on the R355 is something we all need to pay close attention to - no matter how quickly you want to get home, there's no excuse for bad driving that endangers the lives of others.
SEND YOUR LOVE & THOUGHTS
This message goes out courtesy of Caryl Holland, Ainord's employer:
"Hi everyone. I would like to thank every one that helped at the scene of the fatal accident last Monday. Ainord is in my employment and is struggling mentally to overcome the disaster that struck his life and where his best friend lost his life.
If any one would like to send words of encouragement to the families of involved you can send an email to [email protected] I will print them for the families and I would like to put them into a book for them"
There's been a lot of interesting commentary about the virus which saw many people get the runs and cramps at, and after, this year's event. Despite what you may have heard, here are some facts:
- this year's event featured twice the legally required number of toilets
- the virus - which has been identified as the Norovirus - has been doing the rounds in urban areas of SA for some months now
- AfrikaBurn did not spread the virus in an attempt to lower numbers and weed out Plug & Play campers (more on that later)
It appears that a prevalent virus was spread by poor personal hygeine and shared sanitation and kitchen facilities. Many people were not affected - and it would be reasonable to assume that these folks were diligent in washing their hands regularly, and making use of hand sanitiser.
Moral of the story? Always make sure you wash your hands with soap, or make thorough use of hand sanitiser, whenever you are in a communal situation where many people are touching or making use of the same utensils, crockery and camp facilities. Keep a clean camp, keep a clean kitchen...hell, just keep it clean as possible in the desert.
For a full medical report from our medical team, presented by Catherine Williams (medical nurse and head of AfrikaBurn's Medical Services), and Jacqui Dallimore, mobile clinic nurse from the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, see here.
(This year's map, as designed by volunteer Guillaume Vagrante)
How did it pan out in, the end? Turns out, we had a fair few artworks drop out of the mix along the way, though 100% of the theme camps registered did actually make it, and a fine showing it was too. What's more, an additional 15 Mutants rocked up than were registered. All told, here are the final figures on this year's event:
- 126 Theme Camps
- 86 Artworks (of which 28 burned), and 8 dropped out
- 149 Mutant Vehicles arrived and were licensed on site
- 56 performances (but there were many that weren't registered)
- 286 toilets in total (including handicapped) consisting of 150 pit toilets and 136 portaloos (twice the legal requirement)
- 13 161 participants checked in through the gate in total, including service providers such as medics, security etc
PLUG & SAY WHAT NOW?
As an event grows, so it gets attention from a larger and larger group of people. That's events, and that's people - and as the numbers swell, what can often happen is that many people are drawn in by the sheer gravity of their networks, though they may not necessarily know or care to pay attention to the substance of the event itself. With Tankwa Town, this has meant that over the years, some people have been attracted by the rumours of fabulous parties - but if you've ever taken the time to read up on what exactly this event is, you'd know quite well that it's not a party. That, and it's also not actually a luxury experience.
However, some folks don't care to read, and want pleasure and luxury without having to work for it - and there are some who are keen to provide a luxury experience, at a price, to them. This, in our parlance, leads to what are called Plug & Play camps, where it's all laid on for you at a price, and you don't have to break a sweat in order to have your fun. We saw some camps provide this service this year, even though on registration they declared that they were in no way Plug & Play. Not ayoba.
Hear it from us, from the source: that shit is unacceptable, and our team is forensically analysing the ways it happened, and how we can make sure it doesn't hapen again. To anyone who's looking to make a buck off others in Tankwa Town, we send a respectful request to please pull your head out of your ass, and consider going to other events. Thanks.
(Brunsvigia orientalis, aka rolbossie / candelabra flower, shot this week in the Tankwa by Jaco Uys)
MEANWHILE IN THE TANKWA...
The wind sighs through the soetdoring, while the rolbossie flowers bloom and the plains are dressed in a light that makes the scene lovely beyond the singing of it. In the distance, a linesweep made up of volunteers on DPW's Leave No Trace crew steadily cover the ground picking up every. single. last. scrap of MOOP.
Because that's how we roll.
If you'd like to join them in assisting us to wrap up this year's event by leaving no trace, you're welcome to step up: mail [email protected] and our team will field you & your skills. We're looking for solid crew who would enjoy spending a week in the Tankwa assisting with Leave No Trace and final packing. As our crew are knackered, we're looking for enthusiastic crew members who will bring good spirit and cheer to the mix. If you're thinking of DPW next year, this would be a great way to get a sense of how things work.
What is AfrikaBurn? Is there anything African about it? How did Plug & Play camps manage to operate in a decommodified space? What can be done about road safety on the R355? Are all the artworks burned? Did the plague come from Tankwa Town, or was it brought there by a Patient Zero? Why is Stonehenge Private Reserve the location for the event for the last 11 years?
Are the directors really evil reptilian cyborgs making millions off the sweat of so many others? Is the entire event simply a cack-handed regurgitation of the New World Order's very own Bohemian Grove? Are those even rational questions? (by the way, for those who aren't familiar with sarcasm, please note: the previous two questions were not serious).
Is it possible to make the ideals of the event come alive, and thrive, beyond the event itself?
For the answers to these and many other important questions, feel free to join us at the upcoming Town Hall event, to be held in the rooftop amphitheatre of an old Art Deco cinema that once burned to the ground.
When: June 3rd 4pm - whenever
Where: Bijou, 178 Lower Main Rd, Observatory Cape Town (entrance via Cole St)
What: Q&A, with you & your questions & members of AfrikaBurn's team
Bring: a cushion and possibly drinks & snacks if you plan to stay for the whole session
It's free, and open to anyone and their questions: click here for the Facebook event page.
Can't make it? No problem - Radio Free Tankwa will be broadcasting the discussion, and you can mail in your questions up until June 2nd - send those to [email protected]
Every year, we have a theme - and it's taken up by many people as the inspiration for their projects. If you'd like to propose a theme for next year, here's your shot - the window's open for the next 2 weeks for you & your big ideas.
The theme of each event is a point of engagement or inspiration. It's a conversational starting point, a proposition for discussion, a post to rub up against and a platform to dream from. Ideally the theme is engaging, thought-provoking, stimulating and versatile. It can be phrase, or a single word, or a longer though-out piece.
All theme proposals are assessed anonymously, so please don't mention your name in your submission. If you sent a theme proposal in previous years and think that it's still a good one, send it in again.
Hit this right here and get submitting with your theme!
If you ever gazed upon Poppie Van Spookfontein spinning in the desert, or at previous Decompressions, you'd have seen his work. If you saw Lizzie the T-Rex stalk, you saw his hand and work. If you were in Black Rock City to see Lizzie stalk the playa, you too have seen his hand at work. He is Herman Van Wyk, he's an artist and blacksmith - and he's a deeply-loved member of our community who's brought positive vibes and much joy to many over the years. He's a bear of a man, who channels the good vibes of Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans and sculptors - all of which he is, with aplomb.
And he's losing one of his feet, due to Charcot Foot, a degenerative neuro-vascular disease. To assist him with this, his friends have set up the VetVoet Van Wyk Foundation - and you right there can contribute to helping our man Herman at this kak time, a time in which he's nonetheless maintained his characteristic good humour.
If you'd like to contribute, please do so, right here.
Herman, jou lekker ding, vok voort!
(Thanks to Burgher Nortje for this shot of the Cuntstables, who volunteered a Greeters shift)
THANK YOU, VOLUNTEERS!
From Liz Blom, our Volunteer Co-ordinator:
"Thank you to each and every one of you who fulfilled one (or many) volunteer shifts at this year's event!
We had the biggest turnout of people willing to gift their time and energy (very often with gusto) this year. You are what makes this event tick and without you, many things would not have been as brilliant and smooth. From Gate to Greeters, Fluffers and Booth Faeries, Lost & Found, Airport, Ice, and Off-Centre Camp performances, volunteers were everywhere!
In total you filled over 3 800 shifts to help make this year's event happen - from everyone on the Volunteer team, thank you!"
Ever wanted to know what it's like to work on this roller-coaster ride? Here's your chance: we have three positions open right now.
- Operations Manager
- Volunteer Co-ordinator
- Finance Assistant
For info on all positions vacant, and for full job descriptions, please head to the Vacancies page on our site.
We'd like to know how your journey was, what you thought of Tankwa Town, what kind of camp you were in, and whether you got the plague. Oh - and a whole lot more. If you'd like to help us understand our event from your perspective, good news: our tech team and Rangers and a bunch of others, including the indomitable Loz Tanner of Outreach fame, have knocked together an all-singing and dancing survey that will help us get close to data.
Got a little time, and an opinion? Perfect: smash them into this year's survey right here.
JOZI BURNER SUMMIT
We're a big family now, with members strewn not only across South Africa, but beyond in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Namibia and elsewhere in Africa - hell, we've got folks from every corner of this humanly-challenged spinning blue ball. And up in Jozi, we have a particularly active community - and they're staging the very first Jozi Burner Summit soon. Here's word from them:
"The Jozi Burner Summit 2017 is inspired by similar summits held in Europe & the US and is hosted by the Burning Man regional contacts in Gauteng. It's purpose is to create a regional engagement platform where burners can interact and network, showcase their art and/oir outreach programmes and have constructive dialogue about the issues that confront our community collectively."
Date: Sat June 10th from 10am
For more info, head to the Facebook event page or email [email protected]
POSTCARDS FROM THE DUST
They've been there since 2007 when things all began, and they're still at it - 'they' are Burning Mail, who were in attendance once again for the 11th year in a row, and their team sent a total of 4 626 postcards to 68 countries. Which, we can all agree, is a stupendous effort.
To send those cards - which so many of you have enjoyed writing out in the dust - takes actual, real-world, postage stamps, which could be considered a form of currency. If you'd like to support the Burning Mail team with donations of stamps, or cold hard cash, so they can keep sending your Wish You Were Heres, you can always do the thing by mailing Postmaster BillyRich on [email protected]
THAT'S ALL FOLKS!
Not by a long shot: we've got work to do, and it's gonna take all year. Get on board, get reading, get active and get involved - and if you have content, get mailing it to [email protected]
Minister of What In The Actual Hell Is This Huge Private Camp?
Hey! You still reading? Hell, you're dedicated, nicely done. If you'd like to check out some amazing gadget fidgeting, take a look at Roger Van Wyk's video of Kite Phil and Dr Borland messing around with aeolian kite strings and amplification, right here.