AfrikaBurn: A Magical and Manic Experience
AfrikaBurn is not your average festival. It's a unique celebration of art, creativity, self-expression, and community participation, located in the Tankwa Karoo desert in South Africa. As a participant-driven event, it offers a truly immersive experience, free from commercialism and vendors.
The philosopher Lao Tsu once wrote, "Be at one with the dust of the earth. This is primal union." This advice is particularly relevant for this dusty event.
My first visit to AfrikaBurn was in 2018, and it was one of the hardest experiences of my life. Yet, I knew I had to go back. On April 24th 2023, I will return to the dusty playa and immerse myself for 8 days.
AfrikaBurn is not a spectator sport. It's an immersive, participative, full-body contact experience. Here are my reasons why I would travel across the globe to attend this magical and manic event.
This year, 2023, is my year of awe, and AfrikaBurn is the perfect place to cultivate this precious emotion. Imagine standing in a crowd of thousands and peering up at art installations and sculptures up to 100 feet high as they burst into flames in symbolic offerings. You would come away with feelings of awe, wonder, humility, and even dread. That feeling of 'awe' challenges our sense of mortality and gives us new perspectives. Here is a link to a recent blog I wrote about THE WONDER OF AWE. ARTICLE
Replacing Gratification with Gratitude
At AfrikaBurn, I know that I will have countless opportunities to see how gratitude can replace gratification as currency in life.
The thousands of people that attend Afrikaburn bring gifts. Everything you receive is a gift, from the drinks at every bar to the vegan ice cream from a truck that just appeared through the dust cloud when you were about to die from the heat to the long hugs or spare sunglasses or other delicious treats. Instead of a 'barter economy', Afrikaburn is actually based on gifting. It is wonderful. I will be gifting silicone earplugs and eye masks to those I meet along the way that may (also) struggle with sleep!
Happiness is not about having what you want, but wanting what you have. This realisation can change the way you approach life.
Embracing the Intensity
The last time I attended AfrikaBurn, I was completely unprepared for the intensity of the experience. The constant 24-hour music, lights, thousands of people, abundant love, prolific costumes, and emotions that ebbed and flowed without any familiar trend. On day 4, I cycled as far as I could go to lie under a camelthorn tree and cried my heart out. I felt a sense of release and gratitude that I have never quite felt before. This time, I will listen to my body and block everything out and listen to my own instincts. The body has its own intelligence, and the ability to listen and honor its messages helps us achieve mental and physical peace and calm despite the chaos we may find ourselves in.
Building Resilience and Agility
The sensation of 'island fever,' being in a place you can't get out of, provides opportunities for building resilience and agility. AfrikaBurn gives you what you need, not what you want. Things won't always work out in your favor. It will be hot, dusty, and cold. This sort of understanding can give us grace and tolerance in the face of difficulties.
Living in the Present Moment
One of the founding principles of AfrikaBurn is immediacy, implying living in the Present Moment. There is no digital connection at AfrikaBurn. This alone will be so good for me to reset my relationship with my phone and access to social media. As a culture, we are sadly losing the present moment by constant interruption through technology and digital input. Coming back to present experiences and making time for self and others is crucial for our mental wellbeing.