Every year since 2007, a tent city has risen over a remote swath of desert outside Cape Town, South Africa. Thousands of people descend for the weeklong gathering, complete with crazy costumes, art installations, and all-night parties. The pop-up city disappears in seven days.
Sound familiar? It’s Africa’s version of the famous Burning Man festival.
Founded in 2007, AfrikaBurn is a regional event sanctioned by the organisers of Burning Man. It’s similar to the annual counterculture gathering in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, but with more nudity and smaller crowds. Some have described the festival as what Burning Man was like 10 years ago, before it became a cultural phenomenon.
These photos give us a glimpse of what it’s like to attend AfrikaBurn.
Organisers say the most dangerous part of AfrikaBurn is getting there. The way to the tent city includes a pass on the longest road without cell service or roadside assistance in Africa.
A spiral shell sculpture played with the concepts of geometry and light. The makers intended it to symbolise love and connectivity, according to their Facebook page.
Music blasts from stages big and small across the grounds and through the night. Attendees can expect to hear a wide range of genres, from hip-hop to electronica.
The thing that perhaps most sets AfrikaBurn apart from Burning Man is its commitment to decommodification -- the belief that the community is strongest when it's unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising.
At Burning Man, participants with funds to spare can pay up to thousands of dollars a night for luxury accommodations in RVs and 'glamping' camp sites. These are known as 'plug-and-play' camps -- and they are banned from AfrikaBurn because their intent is to make money.
When the last embers from the bonfire burn out, attendees pack up their stuff and conduct a deep cleaning of the festival grounds. The goal is to leave no trace of their presence.