AfrikaBurn 2023: 24 to 30 April

The First Time I Came

Simon O'Callaghan 2013

(words: SunFire)

The first time I came, I thought this is never going to work. As we drove onto the playa I thought we are ALL going to die – you can’t have a festival here…in this…no thing…I mean come on, this is South Africa, land of Boerewors and Beer Guzzlers. Sharing, radical self reliance – no money – only exchange – you even have to bring your own water. REALLY? Never going to work. Yet, in my heart of hearts I wanted it – then it came to RSA…

(photo: Graham Abbott, 2007)

I remember clearly after a hard, hot day’s walk around the Playa approaching a Saloon, thirsty without a cent in my pocket – the insecurity of ‘how does this work again?’. Walking through the swinging door I was greeted with a menu that included dusty dicks and handed a linedancing form which looked more like Celts on mushrooms than any line. A smiling face offered me a cocktail at sunset, I plonked my dusty bones on a bean bag with a rag tag assortment of dust dwellers and I thought – hey – this is alright…there were no funny looks when I went back for seconds or thirds – actually they kept it up for 3-5 days straight – I don’t remember exactly – it was uhmm…8 years ago. Legends – who were unprepared when I came back and said I was here for the linedancing a couple of days later.
The first burn was an endless expression of endless giving and IT WORKED…!!! Its working –  some guys came from the US to check it out and we finished off quite a bit of Vodka together – they remarked: this is better than Burning Man, less people try to burn themselves, less policing. And I thought I just love the way we do things. I have no need to check out anywhere else – this is ohm.

(photo: Simon O’Callaghan, 2013)

Years have flown by and I missed one – it’s now an EVENT, a PARTY but in REALITY it’s none of these things, all of them and more. To me it’s a Tribal Gathering, an evolutionary event. Practice for the real world. It doesn’t end when I leave the gate – THIS IS MY LIFE – this is how I choose to live and express to my fellow man every day that my spirit can afford it. It’s a window shop to how we as humans really are.
Year on year I love coming back, love watching the day trippers, party bunnies and assorted colourful flotsam and jetsam – have that AH HA moment. This isn’t just a party – there is a core of solid (watery) people who Live like this – this is my/our Tribe – I belong – we are home. I love that moment – radical giving, humility, power, humble, forgiveness and re-adjustments to all we can be. Random kindness from Sunset to Sunrise – all day long – our numbers have grown but the spirit remains the same.
Yes there is more moop and those who do should be strung out in the sun, covered in honey and left to the ants the good old fashioned tribal way – unless you were really trashed and it was dark and well hell you simply couldn’t keep it together – this is family after all – I pick up trash every day in the “accepted reality” and I contribute to it – even as I try to make the changes in myself – it’s OK to moop if you pick up more than you left behind the next day. Small walk-around bags are a good idea, our numbers have grown – even the biggest pockets get full and most avid burner makes mistakes…still…

(photo: Simon O’Callaghan, 2013)

I love that feeling when the burns start, the childish joy on faces when you realise, even after all the softly costumed mayhem – there is more – actual radical self expression in non-commercial burnings, months of efforts – made only for this shared moment – a family, a circle – joy. Over the years seeing burns – burn badly due to winds on the night – imperfect – perfection. The most fun you can have as an adult, with or without your clothes on.
Its Always humbling, always we learn but most importantly realise that This is the world, beyond the hangovers and freakiness – this is who we are –  given a chance we will make these Loos permanent and the gifting economy real – we will unite as Tribal South Africa to take the next cosmic step in our journey. Like my young daughter (youngest Tankwa citizen this year) our species is learning to crawl and take the party/life/default world into our own hands and shake it for all we are worth. How do I know we will do this? Because year after year I see Tankwa Town rise from the dusty ash, each one a unique gift – its not enough to practice for a few daze – no – this is how we live – every year the glow stretches longer as I burn it forward – because I have seen it work. I feel it move inside me and that is enough.

(photo: Simon O’Callaghan, 2013)

I come to fill my cup, I build no effigies – I professionally enjoy, I unofficially ranger to help with the birthing as the fire renews me – no hierarchy – only us.
Please don’t burn your feet running across the ashes, there are nails and all sorts in there, watch out for Scorpions when you pack up your tent – practice the no trace so you do it always, smile and talk to everyone in all Queues, planes, trains and automobiles everywhere.
You have been blessed to attend the world’s best….uhm – yea – parties (comes close) – a cosmic event – a seed of things to come. Beyond the Windows and after the apples of no ledge – there is a door – with a whole new world to explore….

Leave a Reply

Share this article:


Related news:

  • All
  • About Art & Performance
  • Art
  • Binnekring Blog
  • Building & Burning
  • Burning Man
  • Children at the burn
  • Community
  • Decommodification
  • Development News
  • Ecological Responsibility
  • Gifting
  • Hard Questions
  • home
  • Homeburn
  • International Burning
  • International Burning
  • Job opportunities
  • Latest News
  • Light Art
  • Mutant Vehicles
  • Photos & Videos
  • Quaggafontein / The new site
  • Ranger
  • Sanctuary
  • Tales of the Orange
  • Tankwa Tales
  • Tankwa Tips
  • The Eleven Principles
  • Traveling to the Burn
  • Uncategorized

Aren't Pop-up Messages Annoying?

Not as annoying as Viagogo and the other ticket tout companies that want to steal your hard-earned money.

If you're looking to buy AfrikaBurn tickets, please do not purchase from any website other than our Quicket Page.